What is anterior knee pain?

Anterior knee pain occurs at the center and front of the knee. It occurs when the kneecap does not move properly and rubs against the femur, if there is tightness in the thigh muscles, or if the kneecap is placed under stress from physical activity. Anterior knee pain is a common sport injury.

  • Patella tendonitis
    Patella tendonitis is a tendon injury that is caused by overuse and stress on the tendons. Tears in the tendons cause inflammation, weakness and pain.
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome
    This condition causes knee pain in the front of the knee, and is caused by sport injuries, overuse or congenital abnormalities. It can be treated with physiotherapy, immobilization and anti-inflammatory medication although in some cases your orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery.
  • Lateral compression syndrome
    This condition occurs as a result of overuse, muscle tightness, dislocation or a direct knock to the knee, causing knee pain, and in some cases, a cracking or grinding sound in the knee.
  • Quadriceps tendinitis
    A common sport injury, quadriceps tendinitis causes knee pain during and after exercise. It occurs when the quadriceps tendon becomes inflamed.
  • Arthritis
    Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, causes the cartilage that surrounds the bone to wear away, decreasing the protective space between the bones. This causes stiffness, swelling and pain.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of anterior knee pain are felt in the following areas:

  • Behind the patella
  • Below the patella
  • On the sides of the patella

What are the treatment options?

If you are experiencing anterior knee pain, your doctor will perform a physical examination, and check for tenderness, swelling and other abnormalities. Your doctor may choose to use x-rays to confirm his diagnosis.

Some non-surgical treatment options include:

  • Special exercises
  • Weight loss (in some cases)
  • Orthopedic shoes may need to be prescribed
  • Physiotherapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medication

In severe cases, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery. In this case, Dr Pirjol will perform arthroscopy.


Dr Gabriel Pirjol is based at St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban and also consults and operates from Gateway Hospital in Umhlanga, Westville Hospital and Malvern Medicross.


Telephone : +27 31 202 5463

Email :

Address : Suite 24 Chelmsford Medical Centre
St Augustine's Hospital
107 J B Marks Road
Berea, 4001