Managing & Preventing Runner’s Knee
Runner’s knee, which is also called patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a type of pain that develops around the front of your kneecap. The pain often begins after an intense period of physical activity. As you continue playing and living an active lifestyle, you may find that the pain persists during light activity such as walking. Over time, the condition can worsen to the point that your knee always hurts.
Who Gets Runner’s Knee?
Runner’s knee is most common in people who are physically active and engage in activities with a lot of running and jumping. In addition to runners, basketball, soccer, and football players can get runner’s knee. Dancers, gymnasts, and other athletes may also develop this condition. Orthopedic doctors assess patients for runner’s knee based upon a physical exam. On some occasions, our doctors may order X-rays or MRI studies to rule out a fracture or loss of cartilage in the knee.
Symptoms of Runner’s Knee
You may notice a dull, achy pain around the front of the knee. The pain usually worsens when you bend your knees to squat or sit. Kneeling, walking, and climbing stairs may worsen the pain. Runner’s knee is worsened by overuse such as long workouts or intense exercise sessions. Poor posture, a past knee injury, or past knee surgery may trigger runner’s knee.
Runner’s Knee Treatment Options
Orthopedic doctors recommend rest and ice for a first case of mild runner’s knee. You may also be prescribed an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce swelling and pain. Taping your knee or wearing a knee wrap or brace may help to relieve pain on a temporary basis. Your doctor may also show you some strengthening exercises and posture exercises that you can practice at home in order to reduce pressure on your knee and strengthen the ligaments and tendons that connect your patella and femur. In severe cases, knee surgery to realign the joint or rebuild cartilage may be needed.
Preventing a Recurrence of Runner’s Knee
You can take action to prevent a recurrence of runner’s knee. Your doctor can help you select supportive athletic shoes to reduce the impact of movement on your joints. Stretching before and after a workout and gradually increasing the intensity of your physical activities can also help prevent knee pain. Using good posture and proper technique are also important for preventing pain.