Pain at the front of the knee is often caused by your patellofemoral joint, which is the joint between your knee cap and the end of your thigh bone at the knee. This pain is referred to as patellofemoral pain and is caused by an increase in load to the tissues in and around the joint, such as bones stress or fat pad irritation. The increase in load stresses the tissue to a point where it cannot adapt and leads to pain.
What may cause an increase to the load at front of the knee?
- Altered alignment of the knee cap
- Reduced muscle strength or control
- Change in training frequency or intensity
- Trauma or illness
- Change in equipment used
Activities which may aggravate the pain at the front of your knee include:
- Stepping up or down off a step, particularly a large step
- A deep squat or lunges
- An activity which loads your knee when bent
Studies show that people with pain at the front of the knee tend to move differently at the hip, knee and ankle when they squat, land from a jump and run. For example the knee or foot may roll in during weight bearing. A Physiotherapist can assess for these changes and provide you with strategies to correct them and a suitable rehabilitation program.
Treatment for pain at the front of the knee may include:
The goal of rehabilitation is to improve the knee’s tolerance to load. Even with poor knee alignment, injury and pain can be prevented if the load is controlled.
- Reduce your activity levels so that you are not overloading your knee – It is important to keep as active as you can, without causing more stress to your knee
- Taping or bracing to help reduce the load going through your knee and minimise pain
- Hands on techniques to help better align your knee cap (tight tissues on the outside of the knee may be pulling it more off to that side)
- Modify your activity to change the amount of load going through the knee. Visual and verbal feedback is crucial with this, so ask your Physiotherapist what cues you should use, such as feedback from a full length mirror.
- A tailored strengthening program, which focuses on the quadriceps and gluteal muscles.
If you have pain in your knee it is likely that you would benefit from being assessed by one of our Physiotherapists. Call us on 8555 4099 or click here to book online.
Written by Luci Minogue (Physiotherapist)