Review Article

Rehabilitation approaches to anterior knee pain among runners: A scoping review

Siyabonga H. Kunene, Nomathemba P. Taukobong, Serela Ramklass
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 76, No 1 | a1342 | DOI: | © 2020 Siyabonga H. Kunene, Nomathemba P. Taukobong, Serela Ramklass | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 May 2019 | Published: 27 January 2020

About the author(s)

Siyabonga H. Kunene, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nomathemba P. Taukobong, Institutional Planning Department, Faculty of Administration and Support, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa
Serela Ramklass, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: Many athletes complain of anterior knee pain (AKP) which is the most common clinical problem, with a prevalence of 15% – 45%, posing a threat to their quality of life. Owing to a lack of consensus among clinicians and researchers, the causes and management of AKP remain controversial.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to map the range of non-surgical and non-pharmaceutical rehabilitation approaches to AKP among runners.

Method: A scoping review was conducted in five stages: (1) defining the research question, (2) identifying relevant studies, (3) selecting a topic, (4) charting and collecting data and (5) summarising and reporting the results. Included in the study were English original articles on AKP rehabilitation strategies for runners prior to November 2019. Six electronic databases were searched: EBSCOHOST, CINAHL, SPORTDISCUS, PUBMED, COCHRANE and SCOPUS.

Results: Thirteen out of 1334 articles met the inclusion criteria. Two reviewers independently participated in the screening and extraction of articles. The identified articles included four randomised controlled trials, one systematic review, four observational studies, one cohort study, two case studies and one quasi-experimental study. The following rehabilitation strategies were found to be useful: education, gait re-education, exercise, foot orthoses and multimodal rehabilitation.

Conclusion: This study provided a range of rehabilitation strategies that were found useful in the rehabilitation of AKP. More comprehensive intervention studies are needed to address all physical and non-physical features of AKP.

Clinical implications: The outcomes of this study make explicit the usefulness of the identified rehabilitation strategies among runners with AKP. These will guide clinicians in the development of rehabilitation programmes for runners.


anterior knee pain; rehabilitation strategies; runners; scoping review; education, gait re-education, exercise, foot orthoses and multimodal rehabilitation


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