How to Treat Knee Pain

Anterior knee pain (AKP) is the name used to describe a range of conditions that affect the front of the knee.

What causes knee pain?

As you bend and straighten your knee the kneecap moves up and down, held in position by various muscles, tendons and ligaments. If any part of this system goes wrong, the movement of the kneecap is affected.

These changes in the movement of the kneecap can damage the cartilage, fatty tissues and nerves near the kneecap, causing AKP.

Here are some common causes of knee pain for runners:

  • Overworking the Patellofemoral joint (the joint which sits under the kneecap at the end of the thigh bone).
  • Over pronation (the way your foot strikes the ground when you run doesn’t allow shock to be absorbed properly).
  • Stiff hip joints.
  • Tight hamstring, calf and quad muscles.
  • Lack of strength in the quad muscles.

What are the symptoms?

Here are some of the common symptoms of AKP. If you’re concerned, make an appointment to see your doctor or physiotherapist.

  • There’s pain across the front of your knee but you can’t pinpoint the source of it.
  • You feel pain while you’re running and it may be so bad you have to cut your training runs short. You may also feel pain after running.
  • You feel a pain when squatting or going up and down stairs.
  • There’s ‘creaking’ under your kneecap.
  • There’s stiffness and swelling around your kneecap.
  • You’ve lost muscle bulk in your quads (the muscles on the front of your thigh).
  • Your knees are ‘puffy’.

How is it treated?

If you’re suffering from AKP, it’s important to rest your knee to prevent the condition getting worse.

A physiotherapist will be able to help reduce swelling. Once that’s gone down, treatment often involves stretching and strengthening your leg muscles, particularly your quads.