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Physiotherapy for anterior knee pain

What is anterior knee pain?

Anterior knee pain (AKP) describes pain that comes from the joint between the kneecap and the thigh bone. It is usually a gradual pain and is often exercise related. It can be associated with:

  • clicking
  • grinding
  • difficulties with squatting
  • stairs running
  • jumping

Any knee pain caused by damage to internal structures such as ligaments and cartilage do not fall into this category.

How can physiotherapy help my child?

We aim to treat or reduce the knee pain for your child by giving exercises for the muscles around the knee to improve the stability. If the pain has stopped them from doing their sports, we can guide them with a phased return to sport.

What problems associated with AKP can physiotherapy not help with?

Sometimes the causes of the knee pain are because of the alignment of the thigh and shin bones. This cannot be influenced by physiotherapy by itself.

What exercises will my child be expected to do?

The exercises usually involve a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises for the muscles around the knee. We may also ask you child to do other activities such as balance work and sport specific rehabilitation. Each child is different and so we tailor the physiotherapy treatment to the individual.

How long will it take for my child to get better?

You should notice a reduction in the symptoms within 3 weeks, although it may take up to 2 to 3 months to fully resolve. 

How often will my child be expected to come to physiotherapy?

Around 6 sessions over the course of a few weeks or months. However this does vary depending on the severity of the child’s symptoms and how well they are responding to treatment. Most children only need 2 to 3 sessions if they do their home exercise programme.

Will braces, knee supports or insoles help?

There is no benefit from braces or supports for this condition so we do not provide them.

Where will my child receive physiotherapy?

Your child will be requested to be seen at the out patient physiotherapy department on E floor on the Stephenson building at the Sheffield Children’s hospital. Unfortunately if your child does not live in Sheffield or if they are over 16 years old, they will not be seen by our team. Also children are not able to be seen at your local GP surgery.

What happens if physiotherapy is not making my child’s pain better?

If physiotherapy is not making your child’s symptoms better, we will write back to the doctor that referred them. We may need to investigate further and discharge them from physiotherapy.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: PT3

Resource Type: Article

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