Anterior Knee Pain: Relief is Available
Anterior knee pain is one of the most common presenting symptoms seen in runners, jumpers and other athletes that place heavy stress on their knees. Anterior knee pain refers to discomfort at the front and center of the knee. Pain in the front of the knee is a very common complaint at all ages, especially in women. Evidence suggests that greater pelvic width and leg angulation, differences in muscle function and unique gender related issues such as estrogen in women may all play a role in the development of anterior knee pain.
According to Derrick Burgess, M.D., Orthopaedic Surgeon at South Central Orthopaedics in Laurel, “The “Q” (Quadriceps) Angle is the angle at which the femur meets the tibia. This angle tends to be larger in females than their male counterparts. An increased “Q” angle can lead to abnormal tracking of the patella. Over time this can lead to muscle imbalance and increased pain”.
Anterior knee pain is common in athletes who are too aggressive in starting a new fitness routine, workers that must climb and bend daily, grandmothers and young mothers who repeatedly squat to pick up children and those who have had a dislocation, fracture or other injury to the kneecap.
“Obtaining a thorough history is the first important step in diagnosing a patient with anterior knee pain,” states Dr. Burgess. “Patients often complain of pain during prolonged knee flexion or when climbing or descending stairs.”
Symptoms of anterior knee pain include a dull, aching pain that is most often felt behind the kneecap (patella), below the kneecap or on the sides of the kneecap. One of the most common symptoms is a grating or grinding sensation when the knee is flexed known as crepitus. These symptoms may be more noticeable with deep knee bends, going down stairs, running downhill or standing up after sitting for a while.
While the pain of inflammation or muscle soreness may be temporary, pain due to structural damage (for example: arthritis) can be made worse by ignoring symptoms of pain, swelling, catching and stiffness. An accurate, early diagnosis is critical to avoid irreparable damage from improper activity or training.
“Nonsurgical management of anterior knee pain tends to be very effective when implemented early in the disease process. A good program must emphasize activity modification, stretching, and strengthening of the hip and knee,” states Dr. Burgess.
A quality physical therapy program prescribed by your orthopaedic surgeon after proper evaluation is the best place to start. At South Central Orthopaedics, we teach improved exercise or work behaviors combined with patellofemoral specific rehabilitation to meet the needs of each patient with anterior knee pain. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call South Central Orthopaedics at 601.649.5990.