An adolescent who is physically active and participates in sports is likely to come across varying injuries during their younger years. Anterior knee pain (pain over the front of the knee) is one of the most common injuries that physiotherapists see amongst children and adolescents.
Anterior knee pain is most commonly caused by an increase in the pressure from the patella (kneecap) over the front of the knee. This has the potential to lead to pain or discomfort.
Some factors that lead to anterior knee pain include:
- Structural differences of the kneecap and underlying cartilage
- Imbalances in the strength of the surrounding hip and knee joint muscles – most prevalent during rapid growth spurts where the bones grow first and the muscles play catch up
- Foot posture and shoe wear.
Even if all of the above factors are present in an adolescent, it does not mean they will get knee pain.
The main factor that determines if you will have pain is your activity levels, particularly a significant increase.
It is important to develop a plan around sport and loading of the knee during your recovery, and this should be started as early as possible! Rehabilitation should involve choosing activities which reduce the load on your knee while you manage your symptoms and address any biomechanical factors or imbalances contributing to the pain.
Common physiotherapy treatments include exercising muscles in the whole leg including the hips, knees and ankles, taping, orthotics or a combination of these things.
If you have anterior knee pain, speak to your physiotherapist about how best to do less and get better faster!