(November 2020) Amidst this ongoing pandemic, fall sports are back in full swing. With the disruption of our routine training and activities during the last several months, we are seeing an unfortunate increase in injuries in our athletes across all age groups. Knee pain in female athletes is especially common.
What Kinds of Knee Pain are There?
Anterior knee pain is one of the most common complaints with one of every ten musculoskeletal patients to our office. Adolescent anterior knee pain often occurs in healthy athletes, and can be extremely common in females. Typically athletes complain of pain in the front of the knee, usually underneath the kneecap (patella). Pain more distally (upper shin bone area) or proximally (lower thigh) are different conditions related to the tendons or secondary growth centers (apophyses) of the leg including quadriceps or patella tendinitis or Jumper’s Knee, Osgood Schlatter Disease, or Sinding-Larsen-Johansson syndrome.
Adolescent anterior knee pain is particularly common after changes in training routine without adequate stretching or strengthening. Fortunately, there is usually no physical abnormality and in most cases it will improve with simple treatments.
What are the Symptoms of Anterior Knee Pain?
- Dull, achy activity-related pain that begins gradually
- Popping when climbing stairs or standing from sitting
- Pain at night
- Pain during activities that involve repeated knee bending (jumping , squatting, running, weight-lifting)
What to do? If your knee pain will not go away after and interferes with activity, see your doctor to examine the knee and rule out other problems with X-ray and potentially MRI if internal joint problems are suspected.
How do I Treat Anterior Knee Pain?
- Stop and limit the activities that make your knee hurt until the pain goes away
- Change training routines
- Pursue low-impact activities that put less stress on the knee joint (biking, swimming)
- Weight loss may help if overweight
- Change training techniques with the guidance of a certified trainer or physical therapist
- Gradually return to higher impact sports and activities
Physical therapy exercises may be recommended to help improve your range of motion, strength, and muscle endurance. Additionally, ice may relieve discomfort after activities and over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and naproxen may help alleviate pain .
In sum, knee pain in female athletes is common but preventable and usually improves with simple treatments. Make sure to condition muscles with changes to training and activities to keep the pain at bay. Whether evaluation, treatment or physical therapy is needed – we’re here to help.
* American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: orthoinfo.org