Anterior Knee Pain: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention Tips

What is Anterior Knee Pain?

Anterior knee pain actually represents several different conditions that cause pain at the front and center of the knee. In most cases, the sufferers are sports people. This pain occurs when the knee cap becomes pain sensitive due to damage and irritation. Incorrect movement of the patella during knee bending or stretching triggers the pain. However, even though you are not a sports person, you still have a chance to develop pain behind the kneecap.

Adolescent Anterior Knee Pain

Anterior knee pain is a common problem in adolescents. The pain is considered as a chronic pain. It usually affects active and healthy young sports people especially girls. Overweight people, jumpers, runners, bicyclists, and football players usually develop pain behind the kneecap.
Adolescent anterior knee pain syndrome mostly does not relate to abnormalities in the knee but it is a condition that develops because of too much stress on knee.

Common Causes of Anterior Knee Pain

Basically, knee joint has a complex anatomy. A small problem in alignment or overuse can lead to pain behind knee. Anterior knee pain may occur from strained tendons and irritated or softened cartilage. When the kneecap moves improperly and rub against the lower part of the thigh bone, the pain occurs. In fact, this pain can be experienced by adolescents who overdo sport activities. Many young sports people think that doing lots of sport activities every day will give them all the benefits of sports. In fact, this condition can lead to a knee pain that will surely disturb their activities. Problems with the alignment of the legs between the hips and the ankles can promote pain behind the kneecap because the kneecap and the two other bones that make up the knee joint should always line up well. Arthritis in the knee can also cause this pain, because arthritis produces extra fluid in the knee. Swelling knee surely makes your knee feel painful.

Then, cartilage injury also causes anterior knee pain because this injury might initiate inflammation in the knee. The imbalance of thigh muscle that support the knee joints will create pain behind the kneecap so people who are usually active should realize the importance of moving properly. The use of improper sport technique or equipment might also lead to pain behind the kneecap because it makes people move improperly.

Anterior knee pain in adolescence

Anterior knee pain in adolescence

Signs and Symptoms

Pain behind the kneecap usually increases gradually. At first, you might feel mild pain but if the problem is not treated well, the pain can become severe, forbidding you from doing your daily tasks conveniently and easily. To know whether you are suffering from this problem, you should know some common symptoms of anterior knee pain. Here are the symptoms:

  1. Popping and crackling sounds in your knee when you are climbing stairs. You might also hear such sounds when you are standing up or walking after sitting for a long time.
  2. Pain at the front and center of the knee when you are doing activities that require you to bend your knee repeatedly. For example, you might feel the pain on your knee when you are jumping, running, or squatting.
  3. Pain at night. If you often wake up due to pain in your knee, you should try to find out whether you are suffering from anterior knee pain.
  4. Swelling can also become a symptom of anterior knee pain because inflammation causes swelling. It has been discussed previously that arthritis might develop pain behind the kneecap. Since arthritis can cause swelling, swelling should be considered as one of the symptoms of anterior knee pain.
  5. Tight feeling in the calves and thighs can become a sign of anterior knee pain because calves and thighs actually should be flexible.
  6. Feeling of instability with your knee can also become a sign of anterior knee pain that needs to be considered.

Anterior Knee Pain Treatment

Treatment for anterior knee pain is intended to give rest to the knee until you can do a sport activity without pain.If the pain is mild and not severe, you can try to put ice to reduce the swelling, do exercise to gain range of motion back, and use aspirin or non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs to relieve pain. However, if the condition has become worse, there are a number of treatments to relieve your knee pain.


Physiotherapy can help to control swelling and relieving pain. Affected people can also use physiotherapy to strengthen their muscles and to stretch tight muscles. If muscles are strong and flexible, the pain usually can be eliminated.

First Aids

When an affected person experience a severe pain in his knee or develops severe swelling, he might need to use a walking aid to help him moving. People can go to a local clinic to get a walking aid that perfectly meets their needs.


Drugs can be used to treat anterior knee pain. In this case, anti inflammatory drugs and painkillers usually work well to help solve the problem.

Surgery Option

Surgery can become a perfect solution if other treatments fail to help people heal their knee pain. However, before undergoing a surgery, affected people should have contacted a specialist who can tell the real condition about their problem. As mentioned earlier, back of knee pain is developed from several conditions which means, anterior knee pain is not the root of the problem.

Avoiding Anterior Knee Pain

Because anterior knee pain happens mostly in sport people, this health problem is also called as  patellofemoral pain (WikiPedia), patellar tendinitis, jumper’s knee, and runner’s knee. This is really painful and it requires a certain treatment to heal and avoiding it is better than healing knee pain. Thus, knowing how to avoid anterior knee pain is important especially for those who frequently do sports.

  1. You should wear shoes that are appropriate for your activities. Like if you are going to run, you need to wear running shoes but if you are going to go hiking, you need walking shoes.
  2. Doing a warming up activity before doing a sport helps stretching your muscles so that tight muscles will not be formed.
  3. You should know your limit. You’d better stop activities that can hurt your knee.