Fun fact: you don’t have to be a runner to suffer from runner’s knee. Sure, runners are probably most likely to experience this condition, but it can affect anyone who is active. Let’s take a deeper look into runner’s knee, including what it is, what causes it, and how you can manage the pain.
What Is Runner’s Knee?
Runner’s knee is essentially a term used for patellofemoral pain syndrome or patellar knee-tracking syndrome. This condition causes pain around the patella (the kneecap) because the kneecap does not glide smoothly in its track (trochlea). Any activity that causes repeated stress on the knee joint can cause the condition.
Running, obviously, is one of the most common causes of runner’s knee, as the pavement is pretty unforgiving on knee joints–even with the latest and greatest running shoes. But even walking can lead to runner’s knee, as can biking/cycling, skiing, jumping, and sports where a lot of running is involved, such as soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey.
There are plenty of non-sports-related causes for runner’s knee as well, including:
- Flat feet
- Dislocation of the kneecap
- Misalignment of the kneecap
- Weak or tight thigh muscles
- Trauma or fracture of the kneecap
- Lack of stretching before exercise
- Inflamed joint lining
Any of these can result in irritation of the soft tissue or lining of the knee, worn or torn cartilage, or strained tendons–all of which can cause the pain. The condition tends to be more common in middle-aged women, especially those who have been running for several years. Overweight people are also prone to runner’s knee, as the extra weight places more stress on the knee joints.
What Does Runner’s Knee Feel Like?
Short answer: it hurts. Longer answer: you’ll often feel a dull ache around or behind the kneecap, particularly where it meets the femur (thigh bone). This pain can occur during any activity that uses the knee joint, such as walking, squatting, kneeling, going up and down steps, and even sitting and standing up. You might also experience swelling as well as grinding or popping in the knee.
Treating Runner’s Knee
To confirm whether you have runner’s knee, you’ll most likely need to see a doctor and undergo either an X-ray, MRI, or another type of scan. Once diagnosed, most treatment involves the RICE approach: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. That, coupled with over-the-counter pain medications like aspirin, Advil, or Tylenol can help relieve the discomfort.
Physical therapy is also a beneficial option for treating–and preventing–runner’s knee.
Runner’s Knee Physical Therapy Treatment in Irving, TX
To get your knee feeling better again, a course of PT that involves range-of-motion and strengthening exercises is generally beneficial. Once the knee feels good and you’re back to activity, physical therapy is a fantastic way to help prevent further flare-ups.
At Physical Therapy Now in Irving, we’ve seen our share of runner’s knee, so you’re in good hands. Not only will our skilled, experienced physical therapists help you get your knee feeling great again, they’ll work with you to develop a routine that includes stretching and strengthening the muscles around your knee to help the joint withstand more wear and tear. Our professionals can even help you with your running form and shoe selection to help you avoid a recurrence of the injury.
Call us today at (214) 225-0291 to schedule your initial appointment at our Irving location, convenient to most people living or working in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We’re ready to help you pound the pavement without pain once again.