Upstate Medical University

Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York

Anterior Knee Pain


A clinical syndrome characterized by pain perceived in the anterior region of the knee. The pain is usually mechanical, exacerbated by activity, and relieved by rest. While no specific etiology has been defined, Signs and symptoms are variable and multiple tissue sources and etiologies exist.

Clinical Presentation:

Adolescent knee pain

  • Onset usually at the beginning of the growth spurt either insidiously, or with overuse
  • Often pain eliminates the ability to do athletics
  • May continue throughout childhood
  • Life altering in that the individual must adapt to life with chronic pain

Direct trauma (dashboard knee)

  • May occur with or without fracture
  • Evidence of the acute injury disappears, but the knee dysfunction persists to the detriment of quality of life

Indirect trauma (knee ligament injury)

  • The knee injury that never gets better, despite apparent healing of collateral ligament sprains, anterior and posterior cruciate ligament sprains, or meniscal injury


  • Anterior knee pain may be the most common injury in sports
  • Often occurs after a change in training pattern, must may just present insidiously, or may follow virtually any injury to the knee
  • May terminate a promising athletic career


  • The common factor here is an abrupt change in activity involving running, biking, or a work situation requiring much more walking and stair climbing
  • Again, the problem just does not get better, leading to prolonged disability