Runner’s knee is a nagging condition that affects many athletes. Whether you’re a runner, cyclist or skier, at one time or another you may have experienced this common problem.
According to the Mayo Clinic, knee pain can affect people of all ages and can be a result of several possible injuries. Runner’s knee pain isn’t typically a solitary condition; it’s more of a combination of different causes that ultimately can lead to pain such as:
- Trauma to the knee
- Overuse from repeated bending of the knee or overstretched tendons
- Misalignment of the bones or muscles that can cause damage to the joints
- Flat feet or overpronation that causes the arches of your feet to collapse, which often leads to overstretching of the tendons and associated muscles
- Excess weight that causes undue stress on the joints as well as the breakdown of cartilage
- Mechanical problems such as differences in leg length or misaligned knees
- Tight muscles that offer less support to your knee joints
- Degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis
- Sport specific movements that cause sharp turns and pivots can also increase your chance of the injury
Symptoms of Runner’s Knee
Runner’s knee is commonly referred to as patellofemoral pain, reports the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. There are many different injuries and potential causes; however, the symptoms generally include:
- Dull ache around the front of the knee, particularly where the thighbone and the kneecap meet
- Pain increases when walking downstairs or downhill
- Pain that worsens when you bend your knee
- Popping sensation in your knee
- Weakness and instability in the area
- Inability to fully straighten your knee
- Warm to touch
- Inflammation and swelling around the area
- Can’t put weight on your knee or leg
Specific Conditions and Injuries Associated with Runner’s Knee Pain
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
This is associated with pain that is felt between your patella and thighbone. This can be common in athletes due to overuse, and is often seen in young adults.
Itillobial Band Syndrome
This condition results when the ligament that stretches from the outset of your hip to your to be a becomes tight. The paint will manifest itself on the outside of your knee, because the type itillobial band rubs against your femur.
This degenerative condition is a very common type of arthritis that causes wear and tear on your joints. It often results from overuse and the normal aging process.
This can be a chronic disease of the autoimmune system and can spread to several joints of the body. This form of arthritis can be quite debilitating on your knee joints.
This condition is common in sports that involve jumping and running. Pain is usually present at the top of the shinbone and generally lasts for a few months. It’s mostly seen in boys and can reoccur until the child stops growing.
Meniscus is the tough, rubbery cartilage that helps absorb shock between the thighbone and shinbone. Tears can often result from sudden twists or turns.
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament connects the shinbone to your thighbone and is prone to injury in sports that require sudden pivots, or changes in direction, such as football or basketball.
Bursitis is caused by inflammation of the knee bursae, which are the tiny sacs of fluid which absorb pressure from tendons on the outside of your knee.
Prevention of Runner’s Knee
Regardless of the cause of the pain, it’s up to you to take preventive measures to safeguard the health of your knees. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends taking the following steps in order to prevent injury:
- Athletes should stretch before and after exercise.
- Always use proper form during exercise or activity and stop if you feel pain.
- Use proper gear such as running shoes with adequate support and effective shock absorption.
- Increase training gradually and avoid quick changes in intensity and distance.
- Exercise frequently to avoid excess weight that can cause pressure on the joints.
- Rest your knees to avoid overtraining
If you feel pain in your knees, apply ice and use a pillow to keep your knee elevated.