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Anterior Knee Pain

Anterior knee pain is used as a general description for a number of conditions which cause pain at the front (anterior aspect) and centre area of the knee.  Pain is often associated with activity and can include patellofemoral pain syndrome, runner’s knee and jumper’s knee.

It is reasonably common occurrence in fit, healthy and young individuals and is more common in girls than boys.

Adolescent anterior knee pain

Knee pain in adolescents can be caused by overuse or incorrect balance of muscles and muscle groups, causing the knee and patella (kneecap) to be pulled out of correct alignment on exertion and during exercise.  Tightness of the fascia (tissue layer) on the lateral aspect (outer edge) of the thigh and reduced flexibility can also act on the knee.

Following examination, imaging including Xray, ultrasound and MRI may be used to check the structure and alignment of the knee.  In cases where the knee is structurally sound, a course of physiotherapy is often recommended as a first-line treatment along with resting the knee, using ice and pain medications including anti-inflammatories.

Incorrect exercise and sports training techniques can cause many of the problems listed above.  These can be addressed by the physiotherapist or knowledgeable sports trainer.

Anterior knee pain treatment

Physiotherapy can include exercises and treatments to increase flexibility, reduce tightness in the fascias, rebalance muscle groups (particularly the hamstrings and quadriceps) and to redress any problems of hip or ankle which may cause problems throughout the lower limb.  In some cases, orthotics or insoles are advised.

If physiotherapy is not successful in significantly reducing knee pain, or if there is a likely structural cause of the pain, joint injections and/or surgery may be considered.

Injections of a long lasting anaesthetic can relieve pain in the joint. These can also be used diagnostically.  If injecting a particular structure in the knee relieves pain, this structure can then be identified as the likely cause of the pain and surgery in this area may be helpful.

Patella pain

Pain around the patella (knee cap) is commonly caused by either patella maltracking, patella instabillity or patella tendonosis (or a combination).

  • Patella maltracking is when the patella does not run smoothly in it’s groove.  This is commonly due to muscle imbalance, pulling the patella out of it’s normal position, or by a structural problem of the patella or even the hip.  If physiotherapy is not successful or not suitable for readjusting the tracking, surgery may be considered to the affected structures.
  • Patella instability is usually either caused by a structural problem with the patella or from an injury. Depending on the cause and severity of the problem, surgery may be recommended.
  • Patella tendonosis. The patello-femoral ligament can become inflamed through activity, overuse or due to one of the of the above conditions.  If physiotherapy is not effective, injection therapies or a tendon operation can be performed.

Due to the complexity of diagnosing the cause of anterior knee pain, it is important to be fully assessed by an experienced knee specialist who can provide an individually tailored care plan.

Knee Clinic

The Knee Unit at St John & St Elizabeth Hospital comprises a dedicated team specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of knee pain and stiffness caused by knee conditions or injuries.

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Patient information

Our Hospital is renowned for providing exemplary levels of care across more than 90 services. From orthopaedics, to urology, our private GP practice and Urgent Care Clinic, our services are led by some of London’s leading Consultants. For more information, and to find a service suitable for your care, find out more about the services that we offer.

Make an enquiry

If you have any questions relating to treatment options or pricing information, get in touch with us by filling out one of our contact boxes or giving us a call on 020 7432 8328.

Our Appointments Team have a dedicated and caring approach to finding you the earliest appointment possible with the best specialist.

If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP for a consultation. You can simply refer yourself* and book an appointment.

If you have health insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa Health, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer to get authorisation before any treatment, and in most cases you will also require a referral letter from your GP.

If you are not registered with a GP, we have an in-house private GP practice you can use. Alternatively, we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstances.

*Please note – for investigations such as X-rays and MRIs, a referral will be required. However, we may be able to arrange this for you through our on-site private GP.

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