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Runners Knee

Runners Knee

Runners with knee pain often suffer from what is commonly known as Runner’s Knee. The condition also goes by Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS), anterior knee pain or Chondromalacia of the Patella. The cause and treatment is complex as several factors are involved. The knee consists of soft tissue components connecting the thigh (femur) and shin (tibia) bones. The joint can act as a pain center for anatomical and biomechanical problems with the source ranging from the hips to the toes. The cause could be age, overstraining, excess weight or biomechanical.

Snap, crackle, pop in the knee area is a common symptom of runner’s knee. Knee pain from running is due to a mis-tracking patella (kneecap) as it irritates the grove on the femur (thighbone). When the knee moves, the patella will glide across the front of the knee within the grove. Either one or both knees can be affected. Women are more susceptible, due to wider hips that pull on the kneecap.

 

Runner’s Knee Symptoms

Runner’s knee symptoms are aggravated with hills, uneven surfaces and stairs. Prolonged sitting can also add to the discomfort. Tenderness around or behind the patella is usually felt towards the knee center. Cracking or crepetious (grinding or clicking) occurs in the knee or a feeling that the knee is giving out. Runners with knee pain may also experience swelling.

Common Runner’s Knee Symptoms

  • Stiffness on the inside and front of the kneecap
  • Pain with deep knee bends
  • Hurts at the beginning of the run, but fades
  • Pain exasperates going down hills or stairs

 

Runner’s Knee Causes

Knee pain has several causes whether biomechanical, high arches or flat feet, muscular causes or simply overuse.

Are you prone to Runner’s Knee?

  • Poor biomechanics
  • Patella prone to dislocate
  • Patella size- smaller on the outside than on the inside
  • Increased Q angle- wider hips increase the Q angle
  • Femoral anteversion- kneecaps pointing inwards

Runner’s Knee Causes

  • overtraining
  • Muscle Imbalances
  • Tight hamstrings or calf muscles
  • Weak quadriceps
  • Feet pronation
  • Wide hips (female runners)
  • Genu Varum (bow legs)

 

Treatment for Runner’s with Knee Pain

With the initial onset of pain or minor twinge, begin taking steps to limit the long term damage and to speed up the recovery. Depending on the severity, self treatment can be administered but if the discomfort persists longer than a week, it is time to see the Running Doctor. The worst advice to give a runner is to stop running, but this may be needed for a short time to aid in the healing process. Avoid weight bearing activities and when possible elevate the foot. If you still want to be active, try swimming laps, pool running or cycling on a low gear. Enjoy these activities as long as there is no aggravation to the injured area. Apply ice to the area for 10 minutes 2-3 times a day. Work to strengthen the quads, only if the pain is not present.

If the pain persists, call 678.705.2709 to schedule an appointment with the Running Doctor to discuss your situation. Dr. Thomas’ goal is keep you running and to help runners with knee pain recover faster.

Runner’s Knee Treatment

  • Ice area for 10 minutes
  • Elevate the knee
  • Limit weight bearing activities
  • Cross train as long as no pain is present

 

Runner’s Knee Prevention

Prevention begins before the pain. The well known recommendations remain true – to gradually increase your weekly running mileage by 10% and remember to take a down week occasionally for recovery with less mileage and lower intensity. Keep the muscles loose and stretch after exercising or try incorporating yoga. Do basic squats and lunges or step ups to strengthen the muscles around the knee area.

With the onset of discomfort, it might be necessary to back down the intensity. The sooner you take action, the faster you will heal. Limit knee-bending activities and going down stairs or slopes. Begin icing the area for ten minutes.

Run Knee Pain Free With the beginning of discomfort:

  • Avoid activities that bend the knee
  • Avoid walking or running downhill, inclines or stairs
  • Stretch the hamstrings and calves
  • Lower mileage or rest
  • Get a biomechanic and shoe assessment for pronation or other contributing factors
  • Muscle Stripping
  • Consider orthotics

You may need orthotics to correct an imbalance or the problem will continue to re-occur. As runners with knee pain are typically lumped into the category of Runner’s Knee, it is important to get a proper evaluation to rule out other knee problems. Visit the Running Doctor and start taking the necessary steps to running pain free. Call 678.705.2709 to discuss your discomfort and begin treatment.

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