Understand Your Pain Summary

Only have five minutes to learn about your knee cap pain?


Below is a summary of all of the information contained within the ‘understand your pain’ pages. This information does not replace consultation with a physiotherapist or doctor.


Signs and symptoms:
  • Pain around, or behind the patella (knee cap).
  • Knee cap pain with knee crepitus (knee crepitus does not indicate that your condition is worse).
  • Tenderness on patellar palpation.
  • Pain during sitting, or pain when straightening your knee after sitting.
  • Mild swelling.


Aggravating factors: 
  • Squatting (80% of people with knee cap pain will experience pain during this movement).
  • Running.
  • Stair ambulation (going up and down stairs).


Associated factors:
  • Physical factors- anxiety, depression, fear of movement.
  • Altered movement patterns- running, climbing stairs.
  • Unaccustomed loading- doing ‘too much too soon’.
  • A combination of the above.


Pain monitoring:
  • It is common to experience some knee cap pain at the start of treatment.
  • Limit pain to less than 2/10 during activities.
  • Avoid exceeding 5/10 pain during exercise.
  • Monitor pain levels post-exercise (pain levels should return to normal 60 minutes after and should not be increased the following morning post-exercise).


Who is impacted?
  • Impacts 11-17% of the general population (adults).
  • Impacts 16.5% of runners.
  • 2nd most common knee complaint in adolescents
  • Women are twice as likely to experience knee cap pain, compared to men.


Expected duration:
  • Variable between each person.
  • 6/10 people reported favourable outcomes after 1 year.
  • 4/10 people reported unfavourable outcomes after 1 year.
  • It may be harder to achieve complete recovery if you have had knee cap pain for a longer period of time.

Published November 2023