There are dozens of injuries associated with running, but perhaps the best well-known of these is runner’s knee. So, what is runner’s knee? This condition (formally known as “patellofemoral pain syndrome” or PFPS) refers to a dull pain that can happen around the front of the knee, also known as the patella. While runner’s knee is a concern for runners in particular, anyone could develop the condition.
Runner’s knee can often happen when someone runs or walks in a certain position that puts added pressure on the knee. There may also be structural defects in the body that could leave someone more likely to develop runner’s knee.
Some common runner’s knee symptoms include:
- Pain around or directly in the kneecap, especially when active
- A kneecap that is tender to the touch
- A clicking, grinding, or rubbing sensation when the knee is bent or straightened
- Pain after a long period of time seated with the knees bent
To diagnose runner’s knee, your knee specialist will likely ask about your health history and perform a physical exam. In some cases, your doctor may also order an X-ray to get a better look at the inside of the knee.
As we mentioned, those who run or play other sports are at an increased risk of developing runner’s knee. Women and young adults may also be at a higher risk of developing the condition.
Runner’s Knee Treatment
In most cases, runner’s knee can be treated completely at home.
Start by taking a break from the activity that caused your runner’s knee. You may be able to modify some exercises, such as riding a stationary bike instead of cycling with a traditional bike. If you are overweight, you can reduce pressure on your knee by losing weight.
The RICE treatment method can also be effective: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Try to avoid putting weight on your knee as often as possible. You can also use cold packs for 20-minute periods throughout the day to reduce swelling. Wrap your knee in an elastic bandage to provide extra support. Finally, when resting, elevate your knee to sit higher than your heart.
Some medications, such as NSAID pain relievers, can help reduce or eliminate runner’s knee pain. If your pain is not reduced with these treatment methods, or if it becomes increasingly harder to move your knee, contact your doctor.
Runner’s Knee Prevention
If you know that you’re particularly prone to runner’s knee, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your risk. Runner’s knee prevention can be simple and quick while still providing reliable results.
You will benefit from wearing the right shoes for whatever activity you’re performing. If you enjoy running, for instance, make sure you have shoes specifically designed for running. Using orthotic shoe inserts can also help reduce the pressure on your knee.
Ensure that you’re properly warming up before you start exercising. Warming up your muscles with some light walking or jogging can prepare your knees for more strenuous activity. You’ll also want to incorporate some basic stretching exercises into your daily routine, which can make your muscles stronger and more flexible.
If you want to train harder, work your way up to it. Taking on too much, too fast can result in muscle fatigue and conditions like runner’s knee.
Finally, if there is an activity that has previously caused you to develop runner’s knee, it’s recommended that you reduce that activity. Consider modifying your routine or finding a different activity to help you stay active and maintain a healthy weight for your body type.
Why Choose Comprehensive Orthopaedic Global?
The team at Comprehensive Orthopaedic Global knows that runner’s knee shouldn’t take over your life. That’s why our doctors are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of runner’s knee, allowing you to live pain-free and return to your daily activities. You’ll work with a doctor to create a custom treatment plan and may also work with our physical therapists at COG Restore in order to strengthen and increase flexibility in your knees.
To speak with a runner’s knee specialist on our team here at Comprehensive Orthopaedic Global in St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, or the Virgin Islands, please request an appointment using our online portal or contact us via phone at (340) 779-2663.