Pain at the front and sides of your knee could be caused by impingement. The condition is also known as fad pad impingement and as infrapatellar fat pad syndrome, and it is a common cause of knee pain. As the condition is not the only one that can affect the joint, it is important that you have it diagnosed and treated properly. Find out about the options at Sports Med London.
What Are Knee Fat Pads?
Called Hoffa’s fat pads by many doctors, the fat pads are right behind the kneecap and the patellar tendon at the front of the knee. They contain many nerves, which makes them the knee’s most sensitive structures. The pads act as cushions that separate and protect your shin and thigh bones (tibia and femur) during movement.
What Is Impingement?
Repeatedly over-extending your knee by forcing it beyond the normal fully straightened position, overusing the joint, and a sudden injury such as a fall or direct blow can cause fat pad impingement. This happens when the fat pads are pinched between the kneecap and the prominent rounded end of the thigh bone (femoral condyles) or between the thigh and shin bones.
The pinching causes pain and swelling. Arthritis, meniscal tears, and patellar tendonitis are some of the other knee conditions that can cause impingement.
Symptoms Of Impingement
Common symptoms of fat pad impingement include:
- Pain or tenderness under your kneecap and at the bottom of the knee
- Pain on the front and/or sides of the knee
- Swelling may cause the bottom of your kneecap to tilt outward
- You may have a history of being able to over-extend your knee
Diagnosing Fat Pad Impingement
Sports Med London’s experts use various approaches when diagnosing fat pad impingement, as they need to rule out the possibility of other conditions. During the consultation, the specialist will ask you about your history with the condition, and they will perform a physical examination that may include Hoffa’s test. If the specialist needs to confirm the diagnosis, they will send you for an MRI or ultrasound scan.
Treatment For Impingement
In most cases, our specialists recommend non-surgical methods of treating fat pad impingement. The most common treatments include:
- RICE – Rest, ice packs, compression, and elevation.
- Bracing or taping the knee – The specialist may recommend that you wear a knee brace or use sports tape to tape your kneecap to allow more space for the other structures within the joint.
- Medication – Painkillers (analgesia) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) can reduce pain and swelling.
- Physiotherapy – The specialist may recommend that you do a course of physiotherapy exercises to help strengthen your knee.
- Cortisone injections – The specialist may recommend a cortisone injection supported by ultrasound.
Contact Sports Med London today if you are experiencing pain in your knees. Our specialists can help.