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Anterior knee pain (pain in front of the knee)

Anterior knee pain is pain at the front of the knee.


There are various conditions that cause this problem. Most of the conditions can be treated with non-surgical measures, however, if the knee pain is persistent or if it is associated with other mechanical symptoms, it may warrant surgery.The symptoms are usually:Pain in front of the knee- this tends to be worse onClimbing stairsWalking or running up a slopePain after sitting for long period of timeSwelling, a feeling of fullness or tightness around the kneeDiscomfort or pain when kneeling, squatting or sitting with knees bent Sometimes there may be associated mechanical symptoms like,Locking or catching of the kneeKnee giving way when walking


What are the causes of anterior knee pain?


The cause of knee pain can be quite varied. It may be a minor inflammation of some of the soft tissues underneath the skin and in front of the knee cap (bursa), or it could arise from inside the knee joint.Most often there may be a softening of the normal cartilage behind the knee cap or cartilage of the trough in which the knee cap sits. In some cases, the cartilage damage can be more extensive. This may be as a result of wear and tear or due to an injury. There is also the possibility of loose bits of cartilage or bone floating inside the knee causing mechanical symptoms. Mechanical symptoms can also be caused by meniscal cartilage, anterior cruciate ligament injury or unstable knee-cap.


What are the treatment options?


The assessment will include a clinical examination, followed by an X ray and sometimes a MR scan could be requested to obtain further information about the soft tissues around and inside the knee.


Initial treatment after appropriate investigations consist of activity modification, exercises to strengthen the thigh and leg muscles with physical therapy, ICE or cold compress application and pain-killers and anti-inflammatory medications. This usually helps to settle the symptoms.


If non-surgical treatment fails to improve symptoms or if there are mechanical symptoms like locking, catching or giving way, an arthroscopic (key-hole) surgery of the knee will be required.The procedure is done as a day case or overnight stay, wherein, a camera is introduced through small cuts into the knee and a thorough examination is performed. Special instruments are used to debride (clean) the softened or damaged cartilage


Rehabilitation and recovery


The usual recovery time is variable and also depends on the extent of damage and the intensity of the procedure performed. You can usually hope to be walking without supports by 3-4 weeks and usually back to routine activities by 6 weeks and sports by 3-4 months.


Consult your orthopaedic surgeon for further information



Dr Vinod Kumar Abu Dhabi

Sports surgeon Abu Dhabi

Shoulder surgeon Abu Dhabi

NMC Royal Hospital

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