Anterior Knee Pain

Anterior knee pain is a global term meaning knee pain felt behind the kneecap or around the front of the knee.

It is a very common problem, in particular in young active athletes. Compared to men, the incidence of AKP is 25% higher in females. It can occur in both knees at the same time, or just on one side.


Typically a person with anterior knee pain presents with pain that gradually worsens with certain activities, frequently running. Pain with squatting, walking up and/or down hills or stairs are some of the other common symptoms. Often the person will find the knee feels stiff after a prolonged period of sitting.

What causes Anterior Knee Pain?

There are many conditions in the front part of the knee which can cause anterior knee pain.  These include bursitis, patella tendinopathy, fat pad impingement, plica syndrome and of course Patello-Femoral-Joint syndrome.

What causes PFJ syndrome? Primary PFJ syndrome occurs when the joint surfaces of the patella and femur are anatomically incongruent.  Over time the joint surfaces may rub together causing wear and tear of the articular cartilage.

The second cause is excessive patella femoral joint reaction forces. Sports which involve jumping and running such as netball, basketball and volleyball can lead to joint overuse. Overuse is identified as micro-trauma of a repetitive nature.  The athlete may reach a stage where the body is not able to repair this microtrauma due to overtraining.

Both primary and secondary causes can be seen simultaneously.

Occasionally we come across a traumatic cause, where the knee has taken a direct hit.

How do we diagnose AKP?

To differentiate between the different types of anterior knee pain it is important for a physiotherapist to assess it fully.  If your physio suspects any pathology he or she may refer you for an x-ray, MRI or ultrasound.  In most cases, however, diagnosis is made by them in the clinic by testing each structure which could be problematic.  Your physiotherapist will also assess the strength of your hip and pelvis, look for leg length discrepancies and foot biomechanics.

Management of AKP

At Focus Physiotherapy we aim to reduce your symptoms as quickly as possible.  We achieve this by the use of taping, bracing,  deep tissue release or dry needling and specific exercise prescription.  We may have to temporarily modify the volume of sport you participate in,  The aim being to optimise recovery and preserve joint health. Download Physiapp before your visit so your physiotherapist can send you an individualised program.

For more information on the conditions we treat and services we offer, or to book an appointment please call 9939 0157 or email us at

Physiotherapy Treatments
At Focus Physiotherapy we provide expert treatment and care for a wide range of conditions, to patients of all ages.
Physiotherapy Rehab
Post-Surgery Physiotherapy Rehabilitation
Focus Physiotherapy offers Post-Surgery Physiotherapy Rehabilitation to patients of all ages.

Women's Health
One of our physios can objectively assess strength, endurance and quality of pelvic floor with the use of real-time ultrasound