This article is part of the Ultimate Guide to Knee Pain Relief and was updated in May 2021.
If you’re an athlete or a jogging enthusiast, you could be at risk for runner’s knee.
Any sport or exercise that forces you to regularly bend your knees, can put you at risk. Low impact sports (such as bicycling) and high-impact sports (such as basketball) carry some level of risk of developing the symptoms of runner’s knee.
Keep reading to learn more about this condition and how it’s treated.
What Is Runner’s Knee? What Does It Feel Like?
Runner’s knee is the name commonly used to describe two different medical conditions:
- Patellofemoral Syndrome (which feels like sharp pain below your knee cap)
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome (which causes tenderness, aching, and burning on your knee’s side)
The disorders that often cause runner’s knee include:
- Knee Injury Due to Trauma
- Repetitive Motion
- Tendons Stretched Too Far
- Bones That Are Slightly Out of Place
- Excessive Weight
- Weak Muscles in the Upper Leg
- Foot Problems That Cause the Patients to Walk Differently
Some of the Symptoms Associated with Runners Knee Are:
- Pain When Your knee Is Bent
- Pain Near the Top of the Knee
- Swelling in Your Knee
- Painful Popping Noises When You Move Your Knee
- Going Downstairs Makes Your Pain Worse
- Pain Behind Your Kneecap (Patella)
- Grinding Noise When You Move Your Knee
- Pain After Sitting for a Long Time
- Pain When Transitioning from Sitting to Standing
- Pain When Squatting or Lunging
Common Running Mistakes that Can Cause Runner’s Knee
IBJI’s Dr. Sean Sutphen says, “Patients with runner’s knee have unequal distribution of stress or contact about the knee cap that is causing pain. Continuing to run when having pain could increase the intensity of pain and lengthen the recovery time.”
To help prevent the likelihood of getting runner’s knee, Dr. Sutphen advises, “If you’re a runner, you should consider changing your shoes every 300-400 hundred miles. Stretch before running, the most important muscle groups to stretch before running are the quadricep muscles and IT band.”
At the time of diagnosis, Dr. Sutphen says that the patient should stop running or at least decrease running to give your knee a chance to recover and build strength in the weak muscles.
Healing From Runner’s Knee
In many cases, runner’s knee treatments are relatively simple. Your knee doctor may just advise you to use R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) as an initial treatment option. Dr. Sutphen recommends icing for 20 minutes, three to four times a day.
Patients should refrain from any activities that are exacerbating the knee pain, including lunges, squats, high-intensity workouts, and impact sports for the time being. An orthopedic physician can prescribe anti-inflammatories or physical therapy.
You should start a physical therapy program to improve the strength throughout the leg. You may also require orthotics.
“In some cases when physical therapy does not allow for significant improvement over six to eight weeks, further advanced imaging, such as an MRI, can detect possible cartilage injuries. At this point, depending on the findings of the MRI, you may need to discuss surgery with your provider,” explains Dr. Sutphen. Surgical options include arthroscopy and possible realignment of the patella.
Getting Back into Gear
Take precaution as the injury heals. Be sure to consult your doctor for clearance to exercise. If you are looking to ease back into your routine after injury, knowing your running technique can help.
Attend one of our IBJI Running Clinics to assess your running style, minimize the risk of injury, improve your running performance, and safely return to running after an injury or running hiatus. IBJI physicians and physical therapy staff will assess:
When accidents do happen, seek treatment. If you believe you have symptoms of runner’s knee, ensure the best possible outcome by making an appointment now with board-certified orthopedic knee physicians at IBJI. If you need immediate assistance for your injury, visit one of our OrthoAccess immediate care locations.
Come to IBJI When You Have Knee Pain
Our highly-trained surgeons and knee doctors are experts in sports medicine, orthopedic treatments, and pain management. We work with every patient to create a personalized care plan based on the best options for alleviating their pain from runner’s knee and other injuries and conditions.
Move better and live better with help from IBJI. Our practice has more than 150 physicians, 100 locations throughout the greater Chicago area, expertise in knee care and all other orthopedic specialties, and comprehensive diagnostic and rehabilitation services.
Request an Appointment with a Knee Doctor →
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