There is no question that knee pain is a common complaint amongst all of us at some point in our lives, but particularly the very active who are often at risk of overuse or even injury. Our Joy Lane Clinic in Whitstable of Osteopaths, Physio Therapists and Personal Trainers work with patients frequently to address the various presentation and the sometimes persistent perils of ‘Runner’s Knee’.
Runner’s Knee is the common term used to describe any one of several conditions that cause pain around the kneecap, also known as the patella. These conditions include anterior knee pain syndrome, patellofemoral malalignment, chondromalacia patella, and iliotibial band syndrome.
What are the symptoms of Runner’s Knee?
The hallmark of Runner’s Knee is a dull, aching pain around or behind the kneecap, or patella, especially where it meets the lower part of the thighbone or femur.
You may feel pain when:
- Climbing or descending stairs
- Sitting down or standing up
- Sitting for a long time with the knee bent
Other symptoms include swelling and popping or grinding in the knee.
What causes Runner’s Knee?
The pain of Runner’s Knee may be caused by irritation of the soft tissues or lining of the knee, worn or torn cartilage, or strained tendons. Any of the following can also contribute to Runner’s Knee:
- Trauma to the kneecap
- Misalignment of the kneecap
- Complete or partial dislocation of the kneecap
- Flat feet
- Weak or tight thigh muscles
- Inadequate stretching before exercise
- A fractured kneecap
- Plica syndrome or synovial plica syndrome, in which the lining of the joint becomes thickened and inflamed
How is Runner’s Knee treated?
- Rest: Avoid repetitive stress on the knee.
- Ice: To reduce pain and swelling, apply an ice pack or a package of frozen peas to the knee for up to 30 minutes at a time and avoid any heat to the knee.
- Compression: Wrap your knee with an elastic bandage or sleeve to restrict swelling but not too tightly as to cause swelling below the knee.
- Elevation: Place a pillow under your knee when sitting or lying down to prevent further swelling. When there is significant swelling, keep the foot elevated above the knee and the knee above the level of the heart.
- Treatment: Visit a health care professional such as an osteopath or physiotherapist.
- Rehabilitation: your health care professional will devise a rehab plan to strengthen the knee.
Surgery may be recommended if your cartilage is damaged or if your kneecap needs to be realigned.
How can Runner’s Knee be prevented?
- Stay in shape. Make sure your overall health and conditioning are good.
- Stretch. Do a five-minute warmup followed by stretching exercises before you run or perform any activity that stresses the knee.
- Gradually increase training. Never abruptly increase the intensity of your workout. Instead, make changes incrementally.
- Use proper running shoes. Buy quality shoes with good shock absorption, and make sure they fit properly and comfortably. Don’t run in shoes that are too worn. Wear orthotics if you have flat feet.
- Use correct running form. Keep a tight core to prevent yourself from leaning too far forward or backward, and keep your knees bent. Try to run on a soft, smooth surface. Avoid running on concrete. Walk or run in a zigzag pattern when going down a steep incline.