Do you get a dull, aching pain at the front or side of your knee? Do you feel a grinding sensation when you flex your knee? This kind of pain is known as anterior knee pain.
Anterior knee pain is most caused by damage to your muscles, tendons, cartilage, ligaments, or knee joint. There are several possible causes of anterior knee pain. Let’s discuss what causes anterior knee pain and what you can do to alleviate the pain.
The Science Behind Your Pain
Our kneecap, otherwise known as the patella, sits over the front of our knee joint. As we bend or straighten our knee, the underside of the kneecap glides over the bones of the knee. We have strong tendons in our knees that attach our kneecap to the bones and muscles surrounding the knee. The patellar tendon is where the kneecap attaches to the shin bone; the quadriceps tendon is where the thigh muscles attach to the top of the kneecap.
Causes of Anterior Knee Pain
As you can see, there are a lot of working components to our knees. If any of these components get misaligned or injured, it can result in knee pain. Below is a breakdown of the many possible causes of anterior knee pain:
- Too much physical activity that puts excess stress on the kneecap (e.g., jumping, skiing, running, bicycling, soccer)
- Runner’s knee (patellofemoral syndrome)
- Jumper’s knee (patellar tendinitis)
- Abnormal alignment of the knee joint
- Quadriceps tendinitis (where the quadriceps tendon attaches to the patella)
- Patellar dislocation (when the kneecap comes out of the groove of the femur)
- Lateral compression syndrome (a tilting of the patella)
- Chondromalacia of the patella (softening or breakdown of the cartilage in the underside of the kneecap)
- Weakness or tightness of the muscles in the front and back of the thigh
- Plica syndrome (pinching of the inner lining of the knee when you move)
- Inflammation of the underside of the patella
Additional Risk Factors
There are certain risk factors that put us at a greater likelihood to develop anterior knee pain. These risk factors include being flat-footed, overweight, having suffered a previous fracture, dislocation, or injury, as well as participating in sports or exercising. Anterior knee pain is also more common in females, children, and teenagers.
In order to treat your pain, you need to have your condition properly diagnosed. After all, you have to know the problem before you can fix it. Your first visit to the doctor may include an X-ray or an MRI so your doctor can see what specifically inside your knee may be damaged. Once your doctor determines the cause of your knee pain, he or she may prescribe pain management treatments, including physical therapy, medications, nerve blocks, or more.
Don’t let knee pain stop you from living a full and active life. The board-certified doctors, regenerative medicine specialists, and physical therapists at Lynx Healthcare are specially trained in treating knee pain. To make an appointment at one of our Lynx Healthcare clinics in Oregon, Yakima, Tri-Cities, or Goldendale, call us at (509) 591-0070, or contact our Spokane clinic at (509) 321-4575.