Knee Pain

Crackling and sore knees are often associated with aging, but it is not unusual for adolescents, especially those active in sports, to experience knee pain. Aching pain in the front of the knee is very common in athletes, especially girls.  Anterior adolescent knee pain is gradual and typically felt behind the kneecap.

Generally there are two categories of injury: chronic and acute. Chronic knee injuries occur gradually as a result of repetitive motion such as running, jumping or turning. Acute knee injuries are caused by immediate trauma like a sudden, hard fall or twist.

In many cases, the true cause of anterior knee pain may not be clear.  It is usually not caused by any particular abnormality in the knee and does not mean that the knee will be damaged by continuing to do activities.  A number of factors may be involved:

  • Imbalance of thigh muscles (quadriceps and hamstrings) that support the knee joint
  • Poor flexibility
  • Problems with alignment of the legs between the hips and the ankles
  • Using improper sports training techniques or equipment
  • Overdoing sports activities


The pain usually begins gradually. You might experience these common symptoms:

  • Popping or crackling sounds in the knee when you climb stairs or stand up and walk after prolonged sitting.
  • Pain at night
  • Pain during activities that repeatedly bend the knee (i.e., jumping, squatting, running)
  • Pain related to an increase in activity level or intensity, playing surface, or equipment

The adolescent anterior knee pain syndrome is not usually associated with symptoms like clicking, locking, snapping, or giving way of the knee. These symptoms suggest a mechanical problem in the knee and are reasons to see your doctor. 

If your knee pain is not to severe you can try rest and ice to alleviate the pain. Take a few days off from activities that stress the knee (practice, running, hiking, jumping, aggressive biking, etc).  If the pain persists a visit to your doctor or physical therapist is advised.

For more information visit: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00041