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Anterior Knee Pain Syndrome

Dr. Renny Uppal, MD

Dr. Uppal is board certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and is one of a few physicians in Nevada who has earned his Certificate of Added Qualifications in Sports Medicine from The American Board of Medical Specialties. He is also an active member of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine.

What is Anterior Knee Pain?

Pain in the front of the knee is often referred to as patellofemoral pain or anterior knee pain. This pain may be caused by soft cartilage under the kneecap (patella), abnormal tracking (or alignment) of the kneecap, an irritation of the soft tissues around the front of the knee, or referred pain from other areas such as the back or hip. It is one of the most common causes of knee pain in young active patients. Symptoms typically wax and wane for long periods of time, and are worse with squatting, stairs, and prolonged sitting. Patients may or may not have a specific history of trauma.

What Holds My Kneecap in Place? 

The kneecap is a flat triangular bone about two inches wide. It is just one of several parts that make up the knee joint. Other structures are the muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. The kneecap plays a special role: it protects the knee joint and also gives your muscles the extra leverage they need to straighten the leg more efficiently. The knee cap (patella) is a flat triangular bone about two inches wide. It is just one of several parts that make up the knee joint. Other parts of the knee are muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. The kneecap plays a special role: it protects the knee joint and also gives your muscles the extra leverage they need to straighten the leg more efficiently. Quadriceps muscles at the front of your thigh hold the kneecap against the thigh bone and help straighten the leg. Other muscles on the inside of your thigh (adductors), back of your thigh (hamstrings), and back of your shin (calves) help the quadriceps move your leg. The kneecap (patella) anchors your quadriceps muscles as they contract, and protects the bones and other tissues underneath it. Retinacula are fibrous bands on the sides of the kneecap. They help hold the kneecap in place. The patellar tendon is a fibrous cord that connects the patella to the shinbone.

What is the difference between “Jumper’s Knee” and “Runner’s Knee”?

“Jumper’s knee” and “runner’s knee” are often distinguished by the location of pain in the knee; whether that is the top or the bottom of the knee. Pain at the top of the knee cap, commonly known as “runner’s knee” is usually a result of quadriceps tendonitis and is often seen in the older athlete. Pain at the bottom of the knee is commonly known as “jumper’s knee.” It is usually the result of either patellar tendonitis or patellofemoral pain syndrome; pain is usually located directly over the involved tendon. Both conditions usually occur from repetitive activities and overuse and can be treated at the Reno Orthopedic Center through either physical therapy or, in some more extreme cases, surgery. Pain is usually located directly over the involved tendon. 

Common Anterior Knee Pain Diagnosis 

Listed below are the most common anterior knee pain diagnoses that our physical therapists and surgeons at the Reno Orthopedic Center might identify if you are feeling pain in the front of your knee. 

Patellar Malalignment (Subluxation) 

Some patellofemoral pain is caused because the kneecap is abnormally aligned. This can cause abnormal stresses to the supporting tissue around the kneecap, and possible wear to the cartilage under the kneecap. 

Chondromalacia 

Commonly known as “runner’s knee”, Chondromalacia refers to the softening and breakdown of the lining cartilage under the kneecap. This represents an early stage of arthritis. It may be caused by trauma, overuse, or malalignment. Many times the exact reason people develop this condition is unknown, and genetic factors may play a role. 

Patellar Tendonitis

Patellar tendonitis (also known as “jumper’s knee” or Osgood-Schlatter Disease, which is more common in adolescents) causes pain below the kneecap and is usually caused by inflammation and degeneration of the tendon that connects the kneecap to the shinbone. 

Plica Bands

Plica Bands are elastic fibers inside the knee that usually run along the side of the kneecap. These bands usually disappear early on in childhood. However, in some people, the bands never go away.

Services the Reno Orthopedic Center Offers

To help with patellofemoral pain you can visit the Reno Orthopedic Center. Physical therapy is offered at each ROC location that can help to reduce or even eliminate pain. In the case that the injury is too severe, surgery can be performed at the ROC. These services are offered in Reno, Sparks, Galena, North Valley’s, and Carson.