Unraveling the Mystery of Anterior Knee Pain: Understanding Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Unraveling the Mystery of Anterior Knee Pain: Understanding Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Anterior knee pain, a common discomfort experienced in the front of the knee, can stem from various structures such as the patellar tendon, the knee joint, the knee cap (patella), or the fat pads surrounding the patellar tendon. At Aspire Physiotherapy, a prevalent condition we encounter is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS), where pain arises around or beneath the patella. This type of pain is often linked to irritation of the patellofemoral joint (PFJ), the joint beneath the patella.

Exploring the Causes of PFPS:

1. Direct Trauma:

  • Examples of direct trauma include motor vehicle accidents where the knee impacts the dashboard or prolonged kneeling on a hard surface. These incidents can trigger PFPS by causing irritation in the patellofemoral joint.

2. Prolonged Overuse:

  • Overactivity of the quadricep muscles, located at the front of the thigh, is a common cause of PFPS. The quadriceps play a crucial role in straightening the leg, and when overloaded, they can exert pressure on the PFJ, leading to irritation.
  • Activities contributing to quadricep overload include repetitive running, jumping, squatting, climbing stairs, and walking up/down hills.

Signs and Symptoms:

People experiencing PFPS may notice pain or discomfort in the front of the knee, particularly when engaging in activities that stress the patellofemoral joint. This pain can range from a persistent ache to sharp discomfort during movement.

Physiotherapy Approach:

Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in managing PFPS. Treatment strategies often focus on addressing muscle imbalances, improving joint stability, and providing targeted exercises to alleviate pain. Additionally, physiotherapists may recommend modifications to activities that contribute to overuse, facilitating a gradual return to regular physical activities.


Anterior knee pain, particularly PFPS, is a complex condition with various causes. Understanding the triggers, whether direct trauma or overuse, is pivotal in developing effective management strategies. If you're grappling with persistent knee pain, seeking guidance from a physiotherapist can pave the way to a tailored treatment plan, helping you regain comfort and mobility in your daily activities. Stay tuned for our next blog, where we'll delve deeper into effective physiotherapy interventions for PFPS.

Andrew Huynh

Hi everyone, I’m Andrew and I head ESPR Therapy & Training. I’m passionate about helping people discover their potential and achieving their goals. For me, that means building resilience and strength (both physical and mental) in you to overcome whatever obstacles you’re facing. I completed my Bachelors in physiotherapy at the University of Sydney in 2017 which has taken me to both public and private sectors. A key highlight of my career is working within an elite NPL 1 soccer team which involved modifying training loads and integrating rehab programs to help athletes recover and return to the field ASAP. Over the years, I developed an interest in the area of strength and conditioning which led me to complete an internship at one of Sydney’s most renowned S&C gyms - Ethos Performance. From this, I learnt how to program training blocks so that athletes can gain the specific movement qualities that will enhance their sporting performance. I have also completed further study & training in pain science and dry needling which allowed me to understand and minimise patients symptoms. Outside of work, I train regularly in MMA and spoil my 2 beautiful pupperinos - Nala and Kira - to bush walks and hikes. If you have an injury or training goals, I’ve got your back!