Read below about pain in the front of the knee, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your pain in the front of the knee from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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5 Potential Pain in the Front of the Knee Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

    The kneecap (patella) is located directly in front of the thigh bone (femur), and should normally glide freely up and down. In this condition, called patellofemoral pain syndrome, the kneecap may rub against the thigh bone instead of gliding smoothly, causing damage and pain.

    Most people get better within weeks to months of physical therapy.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    knee pain, pain in one knee, knee pain that gets worse when going up stairs, dull, achy knee pain, knee pain that gets worse when squatting
    Symptoms that always occur with patellofemoral pain syndrome:
    knee pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Jumper's Knee (Patellar Tendonitis)

    Patellar tendonitis (Jumper's knee) is the inflammation of the patellar tendon, which attaches the knee cap to the shin bone (tibia). This condition is caused by frequently from sports and jumping.

    1 month with rest

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one knee, spontaneous knee pain, knee pain that gets worse when going up stairs, knee stiffness, knee pain that gets worse when squatting
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

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  3. 3.Repeated Kneecap Dislocation (Patellar Subluxation)

    Recurrent patellar subluxation is the continued instability of the kneecap, which causes anterior knee pain and usually occurs laterally. It occurs unpredictably with varying durations.

    Recovery timeline is dependent on treatment type.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one knee, dull, achy knee pain, pain in the front of the knee, pain in the inside of the knee, swollen knee
    Symptoms that always occur with repeated kneecap dislocation (patellar subluxation):
    kneecap dislocation
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Severe Kneecap Dislocation

    The kneecap connects the muscles in the front of the thigh to the shinbone (tibia). When the kneecap slips out of the groove, problems and pain often result.

    Physical therapy may be needed, but people usually resolve normal activities within 1 to 3 months.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    constant knee pain, pain in one knee, knee pain from an injury, knee injury, swollen knee
    Symptoms that always occur with severe kneecap dislocation:
    knee pain from an injury, kneecap dislocation, constant knee pain
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  5. 5.Osgood - Schlatter Disease

    This condition is a common cause of knee pain amount children and adolescents who play sports, and usually affects children 16 and younger. Osgood-Schlatter Disease usually develops due to overuse of the large quadriceps (quad) muscle which makes up the front of the thigh. The muscle pulls on the kneecap and the kneecap (patellar) ligament, which attaches to the upper part of the shin bone (tibia). With overuse, redness and soreness may develop in the knee.

    Pain typically only lasts a few weeks or months.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    knee pain, knee pain that gets worse when squatting, pain in one knee, knee pain that gets worse when kneeling, knee pain that gets worse during a run
    Symptoms that always occur with osgood-schlatter disease:
    knee pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Pain in the Front of the Knee

  • Q.Is the knee pain affecting one or both knees?
  • Q.How would you explain the cause of your knee pain?
  • Q.Is your knee pain:
  • Q.Which of the following describes your physical fitness:

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our pain in the front of the knee symptom checker to find out more.

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Pain in the Front of the Knee Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced pain in the front of the knee have also experienced:

    • 11% Knee Pain
    • 4% Knee Stiffness
    • 3% Knee That Clicks During Movement
  • People who have experienced pain in the front of the knee had symptoms persist for:

    • 40% Over a Month
    • 20% Less Than a Day
    • 19% Less Than a Week
  • People who have experienced pain in the front of the knee were most often matched with:

    • 56% Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
    • 14% Jumper's Knee (Patellar Tendonitis)
    • 2% Repeated Kneecap Dislocation (Patellar Subluxation)
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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