Anterior knee pain

anterior kneeAnterior knee pain is pain that occurs at the front and centre of the knee. It can be caused by many different problems, including:

  • Chondromalacia of the patella — the softening and breakdown of the tissue (cartilage) on the underside of the kneecap (patella)
  • Runner’s knee (sometimes called patellar tendinitis)
  • Lateral compression syndrome – the patella tracks more to the outside part of the knee
  • Patella maltracking – instability of the patella on the knee

These issues can develop in isolation or alongside one another.


Your kneecap sits in a grove at the front of your knee joint. As you bend or straighten your knee, the kneecap glides forward and back over the bones that make up the knee. Anterior knee pain begins when the kneecap does not move properly and rubs against the lower part of the thigh bone. This may occur because:

  • The kneecap is in an abnormal position
  • There is tightness or weakness of the muscles controlling the knee leading to instability or muscle imbalance which alters the weight bearing forces at the patella.
  • You are doing too much activity that places extra stress on the kneecap (such as running, jumping or twisting, skiing, or playing soccer).
  • You have flat feet which alters the position of your ankle, knee and hip (we know! Who’d have thought flat feet could have such a big effect!?)


Anterior knee pain is a dull, aching pain that is most often felt:

  • Behind the kneecap (patella)
  • Below the kneecap
  • On the sides of the kneecap

One common symptom is a grating or grinding feeling when the knee is flexed (when the ankle is brought closer to the back of the thigh).

Symptoms may be more noticeable with:

  • Deep knee bends
  • Going down stairs
  • Running downhill
  • Standing up after sitting for awhile

As you can see, there are a number of reasons for a person to develop anterior knee pain. Its symptoms are varied and can be difficult to uncover by yourself. We advise that should you suffer from anterior knee pain that you seek a full assessment to catch this condition early. Chronic anterior knee pain can become very debilitating and it is better to treat it as early as you can!

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