Resolve Front of Knee Pain

Knee injury on running outdoors. Man holding knee by hands close-up and suffering with pain

Resolve Front of Knee Pain

Morgan Kaufman, DPT

Have you experienced pain in the front of the knee? Hearing and “pop” or “snapping” sound when you bend your knee? Afraid to lunge or squat because of pain? Pain to the front of the knee or under/around the kneecap is a highly prominent injury in the population and is typically referred to as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).


What are common symptoms of font of knee pain/knee cap pain:

Symptoms consist of dull, achy pain to the front of the knee but can be sharp on occasion. Sometimes a popping sensation with or without pain can also be present. The onset of pain typically occurs without specific injury or trauma, with pain worsening with activities such as stairs, squatting, lunging, and jumping but can also be present with prolonged sitting. All of these movements increase the compressive force at the patellofemoral joint as the knee bends which contributes to the pain.


What causes this knee pain:

The exact cause of the pain is often a combination of several factors so the treatment for anterior knee pain varies with each patient. Common reasons for PFPS include weakness in the quadriceps muscle, flexibility deficits of muscles around the knee and hip, altered alignment or tracking of the patella, overuse injuries, and weakness in the gluteal/outer hip muscles causing poor motor control patterns of the hip and knee during functional movements and sport.  Any of these factors, isolated or in combination, cause overloading or over pressure on the femur as the patella glides and moves with joint movement. All of this results in pain and irritation to the front of the knee.


How physical therapy can resolve knee pain:

Physical therapy is the primary conservative treatment for PFPS as imaging, injections, or pain medications do not treat the mechanical issues at play.  Rurgery is very rarely needed to treat the pain response. During the PT evaluation the knee, hip, and foot are evaluated as well as motor control patterns.  Specific, individualized exercises are given and manual techniques are applied.  Sometimes taping techniques with McConnell tape or Kinesiotape are necessary in helping normalize the patella alignment. All of these are aimed to reduce pain and normalize the movement of the patellofemoral joint. Then a progressive and targeted strengthening program with instruction in correct motor control training can then be very effective in fully treating this pain.


If you have stopped going up/down stairs or have stopped exercising because you are afraid of knee pain, now is the time to do something about it! Contact Empower Physical Therapy, where we will help you address your pain so you can get back to all your hobbies and daily activities.

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