Anterior Knee (Knee Cap) Pain

Pain at the front of the knee or under the kneecap (patella) is commonly called anterior knee pain (AKP). It is more common in adolescents and young adults but can occur at any age.

It is  thought to affect 25% of people at some point in their lifetime. It can develop due to a fall onto the front of the knee but usually it is not related to trauma.

AKP is more frequently caused by overuse of the knee due to repetitive activities which increase the load at the front of the knee. This could be repetitive kneeling, squatting and walking up and down stairs or hills. It can also be caused by poor footwear, altered posture, muscle weakness and tight musculature around the knee.


  • pain/ aching over the front of the knee
  • Pain on squatting, walking downstairs or hills
  • A click when you bend or straighten the knee
  • Soreness when you have sat in 1 position for a while (“cinema goers knee”)

Click on the arrow below for an informative video about anterior knee pain.


Diagnosis is based purely on history taking and examination of your knee by your GP or healthcare professional.

Further tests such as x-rays are not normally required.


  • reduce repetitive activities such as kneeling, squatting or stairs
  • Weight loss if overweight – check here to see whether you are within a healthy weight range NHS BMI Checker

Being overweight increases the likelihood of developing OA of the knee. It is estimated that 4 x your bodyweight goes through the knee when walking. So for every 10lbs you are overweight an extra 40 pounds is being exerted through the knee! Weight loss will help to relieve knee pain symptoms, improve function and quality of life.

  • Good supportive footwear to prevent poor alignment of your feet and knees. Loose slip-on shoes can cause your foot and knee position to be altered exacerbating the pain
  • Regular exercise – Please click here to read more about the benefits of regular exercise.
  • If the pain fails to improve after 6 weeks of trying these measures see your GP for consideration of referral to physiotherapy to address any muscle imbalance

Click on the arrow below to view suitable exercises for anterior knee pain.

USEFUL LINKS – Information about anterior knee pain – Further information about knee conditions

https://www.nhsinform.Scot/injuries/muscle-bone-and-joint-injuries-problems – General advice about managing knee pain