What is Runners Knee?
Runner's knee is a common umbrella term used for general knee pain. This condition typically occurs in the anterior portion of the knee. It's common among active individuals, especially runners, because of the constant stress the joint is under during training.
Runner's knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome occurs when there is increased tension and pressure in the quadriceps tendons connected to the patella. The quadriceps use the patella as a lever to help pull the knee into extension. Improper pull from the quadriceps or imbalances between the quadriceps, hamstring, and glutes may lead to this painful and possibly sidelining condition.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The hallmark sign of runner's knee is achy or dull pain around the patella. This sensation may be constant or increase, especially during movement such as: running, walking, hiking, going up or downstairs, or sitting for a lengthy amount of time. Individuals also report grinding or popping sensations in the knee during movement. In some cases, swelling may also be present.
Most commonly for runners, runner's knee is caused by:
Overuse - the repetitive stress the knee is under during movement.
Flat feet - fallen arches places increased medial pressure through the knee joint and can aid in misalignment of the patella, increasing wear.
Weakness or muscle imbalances
Failure to warm-up before running - tight muscles from an inadequate warm-up can increase the risk of developing runner's knee
How is it diagnosed?
You should schedule a consultation with a sports-specific physician in which he or she will compile a complete medical history. They should take you through a comprehensive physical assessment and if warranted, schedule X-rays, an MRI, or a CT scan.
How can you help prevent it?
Gradually increase weekly mileage
Increase strength and mobility
Myofascial release/muscle work of the quadriceps muscle group at home with a foam roller or massage gun and professionally by a physical therapist or chiropractor.
Mobilization and/or chiropractic adjustment of the knee and surrounding joints.
Rehabilitation to correct muscular imbalances of the muscles of the thigh, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes
Short-term use of patellar tendon straps or kinesiology tape can decrease pain.