Context: Causes of anterior knee pain (AKP) in jumping athletes include patellofemoral pain and patellar tendinopathy. Differential diagnosis of AKP is challenging, with variation in clinical presentations. No previous research has used pain location to describe AKP in basketball athletes.

Objectives: To describe the prevalence and pain distribution of AKP in college basketball. To report the prevalence of focal inferior pole pain using two outcome measures.

Design: Cross-sectional study

Setting: University and college basketball facilities in Alberta, Canada.

Patients or Other Participants: 242 collegiate basketball athletes

Main Outcome Measure(s): The single leg decline squat test (SLDS) was used to capture pain location using pain mapping (dichotomised into focal/diffuse) and pain severity (numerical rating scale). The Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre Knee questionnaire (OSTRC-Knee) and adapted version for patellar tendinopathy (OSTRC-P) were used to report the prevalence of anterior knee pain (AKP) and patellar tendinopathy respectively. Focal inferior pole pain during the SLDS was used to classify patellar tendinopathy.

Results: Of the 242 players (138 women, 104 men), 146 (60%) reported pain with the SLDS [unilateral n=64, (26%); bilateral n=82 (34%)]. 101 (43%) reported knee pain using the OSTRC-Knee. Pain mapping captured variability in pain location. Diffuse pain was more prevalent [left 70%; right 72%] than focal pain [left 30%; right 28%]. There was low prevalence of patellar tendinopathy with either outcome measure; OSTRC-P [n=21, 8.7%] and inferior pole pain during the SLDS [n=25, 10.3%]

Conclusions: Diffuse AKP was common in Canadian basketball players, however pain mapped to the inferior pole of the patella was not. Few players reported tendinopathy using the OSTRC-P, suggesting that patellar tendinopathy was not a primary knee pain presentation in this jumping cohort. Pain location rather than presence or severity of pain alone may better describe the clinical presentations of AKP in jumping athletes.

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