Runner’s knee is a common ailment among athletes, not just specific to runners, but to anyone whose activities require a lot of knee bending. The pain is usually located around the kneecap or front of the knee. In order to understand the causes and the symptoms with Runner’s knee, it’s important to know the structure of the knee itself. The knee involves the connection of the femur (upper leg) and the tibia (lower leg) as well as the patella (knee cap) which rests at the center of the knee. The fibula (also lower leg) is connected to the joint but is not directly involved or affected by the hinge joint action. Surrounding the knee joint are ligaments that connect these bones as well as cartilage and menisci that disperse the friction between the bones.
Symptoms of Runner’s knee may include:
- Dull, aching pain behind or around the kneecap, especially where the thighbone and kneecap meet
- Pain when bending the knee such as walking, squatting, kneeling, running, or sitting with a bent knee
- Pain that worsens when walking downstairs or downhill
- Popping or grinding sensations in knee
There are a number of contributing factors that can affect runner’s knee. They include:
- Misalignment of the kneecap- physical stress won’t be evenly distributed and parts of the body may bear too much weight causing pain/damage to joints
- Complete or partial dislocation
- Injury or direct trauma, such as a fall or blow to the knee
- Tightness, imbalance or weakness of thigh muscles
- Flat feet
- Overuse which includes irritated or strained tendons
Some ways to prevent Runner’s knee include staying in shape with general conditioning, stretching before exercise and after a warm-up, gradually increase the intensity of your exercise instead of quickly jumping to a high intensity, use proper gear especially proper fitting shoes with good shock absorption, and use proper running form by leaning forward and keeping knees bent. It is also important to be aware of where you are running. Try to run on a clear, smooth, even surface and if there is a steep hill never run straight down it, but rather walk down or run in a zigzag pattern.
Typically minor to moderated cases of Runner’s knee should heal on their own, but there are ways to speed up the process. The initial treatment step should be R.I.C.E. or Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Taking anti-inflammatory painkillers will help with the pain and swelling however it is important to consult with your doctor before taking them. Getting arch supports will help with those who have flat feet.
After or while in the process of reducing pain and swelling, it is important to recondition the body in order to regain full range of motion, strength, power, endurance, speed, agility, and coordination. Physical therapy can address these limitations and help speed up the recovery for any patient suffering with Runner’s knee.
We treat patients with Runner’s Knee in the 34711 area!