What Is Runner’s Knee and How Can It Be Avoided?

Your running program just started, and you are feeling great. Maybe you're preparing for a marathon? You start running farther, faster, and more often when you suddenly feel pain in the front of your knee and around your kneecap. With each run, the pain gets worse, and you realize you have what’s called Runner's Knee.

Runner's Knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, is one of the most common overuse injuries that cause pain on the front of the knee and around the kneecap. Runners are most likely to suffer from this condition, but it can also affect people who participate in cycling and hiking. Although most people recover completely from Runner's Knee after a few months of rehab, the injury can become chronic if not treated properly.

Symptoms of Runner’s Knee

As the name implies, patellofemoral syndrome is an ache inside the patella or knee cap. It might also feel like the patella is rubbing, grinding, or clicking. If the problem is acute, the knee cap may be tender to the touch.

If you have Runner’s Knee, you may experience pain while you engage in the following activities:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Squatting
  • Kneeling
  • Sitting
  • Going up or downstairs
  • Standing up or while sitting on a chair

It’s important to note that Runner’s Knee is different from a traumatic, sudden knee injury because it develops slowly over time.

Causes of Runner’s Knee

As discussed above, Runner’s Knee is an overuse injury caused by excessive and repetitive strain. Irritation of the soft tissues or the lining of the knee strained tendons, or worn cartilage may lead to Runner’s Knee.

Here are some of the risk factors for Runner’s Knee:

  1. Overtraining
  2. Poor alignment of the kneecap
  3. A shallow groove on your femur
  4. Muscle weakness or imbalances
  5. Trauma to the patella
  6. Improper warm-up

Treating Runner’s Knee

If you are facing Runner’s Knee, you should stop performing any activities that hurt your knee until the pain goes away completely. You should also follow the RICE formula:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Over-the-counter pain medication may also be used.

Preventing Runner’s Knee

The good news is that Runner’s Knee can easily be prevented. If you would like to reduce your risk of developing this condition, you should adhere to these tips:

  • Warm-up and stretch before engaging in any activity that requires knee movement.
  • Stay in good physical shape.
  • Use the right running gear. If you are a runner, invest in a decent pair of running shoes that offer good support.

Contact Matthew D. Barber, M.D.

If you are living with Runner’s Knee and longing for relief, contact Matthew D. Barber, M.D. today. We’ll evaluate your condition and design an appropriate treatment plan.