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Feeling Dull Pain Under Your Kneecap? Here’s What It Could Be

Kneecap, Steven E. Nolan, MD, Dr. Nolan, RICE method

It may start only after a period of rigorous activity, but all too soon, dull pain under your kneecap can become a constant companion, plaguing you throughout the day and night. As with pain anywhere else in your body, those aching knees are trying to tell you that something isn’t quite right.

At our practice, Steven E. Nolan, MD, Dr. Nolan has extensive experience helping his patients in Sugar Land, Texas, overcome knee issues of all kinds, including nagging pain under the kneecap. Using the most advanced diagnostic and treatment tools, including arthroscopy, our goal is to help you jump out of the bed each morning and take on the day with knees that are up to the task.

If you’re feeling dull pain under your kneecap, here’s what it could be.

A pain in the knee

Dull pain under your kneecap has a medical name ascribed to it — patellofemoral pain syndrome. In order to better understand this mouthful of a condition, let’s first take a step back and review the anatomy of your knee.

Your knees are the largest joints in your body, and for good reason. Every time you stand up, walk, run, jump, and sit back down, your knees are constantly working to provide you with support, mobility, and range of motion. To do this, they rely on the following components:

Your kneecap is held in place and stabilized by your tendons, namely your quadriceps and patella tendons. To enable your kneecap to move, there’s a slot on your femur called the trochlea, which is lined with articular cartilage for easy gliding.

By reviewing this anatomy, you can see that knee pain of any kind can stem from a number of sources. When it’s centered near your kneecap, however, there are a couple of primary suspects.

Behind the pain

Pain under your kneecap is often due to a breakdown in cartilage (especially under your patella), which causes inflammation. It can also stem from tiny tears in your tendons that cause inflammation, or tendinitis.

These conditions are often the result of wear-and-tear brought about by overuse and repeated stresses on your knees. If you engage in activities that require a considerable amount of running, squatting, climbing, or jumping, your knees may not be able to handle the added stress load, leading to a breakdown in your supporting soft tissue.

Another cause of kneecap pain comes from patellar misalignment, which is when your kneecap isn’t gliding through your trochlea properly. This condition can stem from a misalignment between your hips and ankles or muscular imbalances that prevent your patella from tracking correctly.

What to do

If the pain under your kneecap is persistent, and it doesn’t respond to the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), it’s time for you to come in and see us. To start, we’ll review your symptoms and your lifestyle, and then we’ll turn to advanced imaging, such as X-rays and MRIs, to take a closer look at what’s going on inside your knee.

But these tools can only get us so far. In many cases, we prefer to go in arthroscopically to both diagnose and potentially treat the problem while we’re there. With arthroscopy, we need only small incisions that allow us to insert a specialized camera and tools. This equipment gives us a firsthand look inside your knee, and we can make any repairs if we’re able.

Given the importance of your knees, any pain in these joints should be correctly identified and treated by an orthopedic specialist like Dr. Nolan. Please give us a call to get relief from your dull kneecap pain, or use the online scheduler to set up an appointment.

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