The fat pad in your knee sits just below your knee cap and provides cushioning and shock absorption between the bones of your knee joint. It is also known as Hoffa’s pad and is one of the most sensitive components of your knee joint. Pain is most often caused by the fat pad becoming pinched between the end of your thigh bone and your kneecap.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Symptoms of Fat Pad Impingement
A direct blow to your kneecap is usually the cause of impingement, which leads to the fat pad becoming trapped and inflamed 1. This condition is often referred to as Hoffa’s syndrome and, if you have it, you are likely to notice some swelling and/or tenderness around the bottom of your knee and find it painful to straighten your leg. You might also hear a cracking sound when straightening your knee, which is the fat pad popping out of the joint. A health professional will usually diagnose the condition by pressing firmly on the tendons under your kneecap and asking you to straighten your leg. If you find this painful -- or even resist performing the action altogether -- it’s a good sign you are suffering from Hoffa’s syndrome.
- A direct blow to your kneecap is usually the cause of impingement, which leads to the fat pad becoming trapped and inflamed 1.
- This condition is often referred to as Hoffa’s syndrome and, if you have it, you are likely to notice some swelling and/or tenderness around the bottom of your knee and find it painful to straighten your leg.
What Causes Outer Knee Pain While Running?
Unfortunately, this condition can take a while to treat because the fat pad is aggravated every time you move your knee. The first step is to rest and apply ice to the area to reduce inflammation. Exercises to strength the muscles that support your knee can also help. Taping your knee cap is another effective treatment method. This gives the fat pad more room to move underneath, so that it is no longer trapped in the joint. Failure to treat the condition can lead to osteoarthritis, so see a health professional if you think you may have this condition.
- Unfortunately, this condition can take a while to treat because the fat pad is aggravated every time you move your knee.
Knee Strengthening Exercises
Your quadriceps and hamstrings are the main muscles that support your knee joint, so they are likely to be the focus of any strengthening exercises you are prescribed 2. It is important that you perform all knee exercises slowly and, while minor discomfort is normal, you should stop immediately if you feel any pain.
Knee Cap Pain & Stretches
Stand side-on to a wall with one hand against it for support. Make sure your feet are together and you are standing up straight then slowly bend your injured leg back, moving your heel towards your buttocks. Hold for a few seconds at the top then gently lower the foot back down to the ground. Use your hamstrings to perform both the lifting and lowering movements with control.
- Stand side-on to a wall with one hand against it for support.
- Hold for a few seconds at the top then gently lower the foot back down to the ground.
Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you and place a rolled-up towel under your injured knee, which should be slightly bent. Engage your vastus medialus muscle -- located above your knee cap on the inner side -- to straighten your leg and lift your heel a few inches off the ground. Lower your heel back down to the ground and repeat.
What Causes Outer Knee Pain While Running?
Knee Cap Pain & Stretches
How to Put on a Knee Brace Properly
Iliopsoas Tendon Pain When Walking
What Is a Healthy Serving Size of Peanut Butter?
Pain Above the Knee Cap With Running
Quadriceps Exercises for Knee Pain
Tensor Fasciae Latae Muscle Stretches
Therapist's Exercises for Knock Knee
Exercises to Get Rid of a Muffin Top
- Sportsinjuryclinic.net: Fat Pad Impingement
- Sportsinjuryclinic.net: Knee Exercises For Strengthening
- Lespasio MJ, Piuzzi NS, Husni ME, Muschler GF, Guarino A, Mont MA. Knee Osteoarthritis: A Primer. Perm J. 2017;21:16-183. doi:10.7812/TPP/16-183
- Kiapour AM, Murray MM. Basic science of anterior cruciate ligament injury and repair. Bone Joint Res. 2014;3(2):20-31. doi:10.1302/2046-3758.32.2000241
- Doral MN, Bilge O, Huri G, Turhan E, Verdonk R. Modern treatment of meniscal tears. EFORT Open Rev. 2018;3(5):260-268. doi:10.1302/2058-5241.3.170067
- Reinking MF. CURRENT CONCEPTS IN THE TREATMENT OF PATELLAR TENDINOPATHY. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2016;11(6):854-866.
- Petersen W, Rembitzki I, Liebau C. Patellofemoral pain in athletes. Open Access J Sports Med. 2017;8:143-154. doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S133406
- Frush TJ, Noyes FR. Baker's Cyst: Diagnostic and Surgical Considerations. Sports Health. 2015;7(4):359-65. doi:10.1177/1941738113520130
- Huang YC, Yeh WL. Endoscopic treatment of prepatellar bursitis. Int Orthop. 2011;35(3):355-8. doi:10.1007/s00264-010-1033-5
- Beals C, Flanigan D. A Review of Treatments for Iliotibial Band Syndrome in the Athletic Population. J Sports Med (Hindawi Publ Corp). 2013;2013:367169. doi:10.1155/2013/367169
- Tsai CH, Hsu CJ, Hung CH, Hsu HC. Primary traumatic patellar dislocation. J Orthop Surg Res. 2012;7:21. doi:10.1186/1749-799X-7-21
- Ragab G, Elshahaly M, Bardin T. Gout: An old disease in new perspective - A review. J Adv Res. 2017;8(5):495-511. doi:10.1016/j.jare.2017.04.008
- Lee PYF, Nixion A, Chandratreya A, Murray JM. Synovial Plica Syndrome of the Knee: A Commonly Overlooked Cause of Anterior Knee Pain. Surg J (N Y). 2017;3(1):e9-e16. doi:10.1055/s-0037-1598047
- Vaishya R, Azizi AT, Agarwal AK, Vijay V. Apophysitis of the Tibial Tuberosity (Osgood-Schlatter Disease): A Review. Cureus. 2016;8(9):e780. doi:10.7759/cureus.780
- Zanon G, Di vico G, Marullo M. Osteochondritis dissecans of the knee. Joints. 2014;2(1):29-36.
- Hindle P, Davidson E, Biant LC. Septic arthritis of the knee: the use and effect of antibiotics prior to diagnostic aspiration. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2012;94(5):351-5. doi:10.1308/003588412X13171221591015
- Gwinner C, Märdian S, Schwabe P, Schaser KD, Krapohl BD, Jung TM. Current concepts review: Fractures of the patella. GMS Interdiscip Plast Reconstr Surg DGPW. 2016;5:Doc01. doi:10.3205/iprs000080
- Voskuil R, Evenski AJ, Montgomery C, Emory CL. Malignant Bone Tumors of the Knee: How to Identify and Treat. J Knee Surg. 2019;32(4):305-314. doi:10.1055/s-0038-1675828
- Gupte C, St mart JP. The acute swollen knee: diagnosis and management. J R Soc Med. 2013;106(7):259-68. doi:10.1177/0141076813482831
- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Unstable Kneecap.
- Bhatia D, Bejarano T, Novo M. Current interventions in the management of knee osteoarthritis. Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences 2013 Jan-Mar;5(1):30-38. doi:%2010.4103/0975-7406.106561
- Bronstein RD, Schaffer JC. Physical Examination of the Knee: Meniscus, Cartilage, and Patellofemoral Conditions. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2017 May;25(5):365-374.
- Browne K, Kurtz CA. How to perform a comprehensive examination of the knee. JAAPA. 2009 Jun;22(6):20-25.
- Hergenroeder AC, Harvey BS. (2017). Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD): Clinical manifestations and diagnosis. Bachur RG, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate Inc.
Jessica began her writing career in 1995 and is Senior Editor at a London communications agency, where she writes and edits corporate publications covering health, I.T., banking and finance. Jessica has also written for consumer magazines including "Cosmopolitan" and travel, home/lifestyle and bridal titles. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and journalism from the University of Queensland.