Knee Cap Pain

Knee Cap PainBefore understanding knee cap pain we have to understand the knee cap itself.

The knee cap, also known as “patella”, is a triangular bone that guards the joints in the front of the knee. It is attached by ligaments to the muscles around the knee and increases mobility in the leg by acting as a support for the leg muscles. We highly recommend seeing our Knee Diagram for a better understanding of knee anatomy.

So, the next time you hit your knee, kneel down or bounce a soccer ball on your leg, thank your knee cap for being there to protect you.


There are various causes which lead to knee cap pain. Below is a list of the various ways that it occurs. If you believe your knee cap pain stems from one of the causes below you can click the “here” link after each description to read more in depth about the specific cause. These knee cap pain causes include:

  • Runner’s knee or Chondromalacia Patella – results from cartilage wear and changes leading to the blistering of the cartilage surface and therefore causing anterior knee pain. To read more about runner’s knee please click here.
  • Housemaids knee or Prepatellar Bursitis – results from kneeling for an extended period of time wherein the bursa becomes irritated or inflamed causing knee cap pain. To read more about housemaids knee please click here.
  • Tendinitis – results inflammation, irritation, and swelling of the knee tendon which is the structure that joins the knee muscle to the bone. To read more about tendinitis knee pain please click here.
  • Kneecap Dislocation – kneecap dislocation due to knee injuries or deformities. To read more about kneecap dislocation please click here.
  • Patella Fracture – a broken knee cap. To read more about a broken knee cap please click here.
  • Arthritis – painful inflammation of the knee joint. To read more about arthritis knee pain please click here.


Knee cap pain can be determined through the following signs and symptoms. These include:

  • Pain around, on the sides, in front or deep within the kneecap.
  • Pain felt on the kneecap when walking (especially downstairs), kneeling, sitting or running.
  • Swelling, stiffness, inflammation or bruising of the knee particularly in the front.
  • Difficulty to bend the knee or walk when using the affected knee.
  • Limited or painful knee movement.

If you are feeling any other knee pain symptoms see our Diagnosis page to determine the proper cause and relief.


Proper diagnosis of the knee is essential to determine the primary knee cap pain causes as well as providing the appropriate treatment for it. Here are some ways to diagnose knee cap pain:

  • Physical examination by a physician to determine the location of the pain and evaluate for swelling, bruising, abnormal movement and other abnormalities within the knee.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI Scan) or Knee x-ray to get accurate images for the knee condition particularly for dislocations or deformities.
  • Ultrasound, CT or bone scans to photographically diagnose your knee.
  • Drawer tests to detect a rupture of the cruciate ligaments in the knee.


Knee cap pain can be treated through:

  • RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate). Rest the knee with the painful kneecap for at least a period of three days. Apply ice or cold pack to the injured kneecap to reduce inflammation and provide relief to the injured tissue. Compressing the affected kneecap with some knee brace, elastic bandage or even with a rag can help to relieve the pain and reduce the swelling. Elevate the injured leg to reduce the swelling or inflammation. To read more about the RICE method for injuries please click here.
  • Medications – Over-the-counter prescription drugs to relieve the pain and reduce the inflammation and swelling.
  • Knee brace, cast or splint – Braces can provide additional support and relieve pain.
  • Knee surgery – Surgery should only be used as a last resort.
  • Physical therapy – Special exercise program aimed to increase the stability of the knees and strengthen the knee muscles.
  • Acupuncture – To relieve knee pain.

Patella Femoral Solutions (ebook)Read Now


Sometimes you can’t prevent accidents from happening, especially if you are very active. Naturally this includes knee cap pain. However, there are ways to prevent it. These include:

  • Warm-up and stretch before major physical activity.
  • Exercise intelligently to condition the body and the knee.
  • Stay in shape and maintain a healthy weight to avoid stress to knee joints and the kneecap.
  • Use of appropriate shoes.
  • Knee brace or support.
  • Proper body form when running or walking.
  • Listening to your body

Our knee strengthening exercises are a must read. We included multiple warm up, stretching, strengthening, endurance and other exercises you should be doing.

Have You Ever suffered knee cap pain? Please Comment Below.

Article last updated on January 8th, 2019, first published on July 23, 2013.

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