An Overview of Runner’s Knee
One issue that athletes commonly experience is “runner’s knee,” also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). This condition refers to a dull ache around the kneecap (patella) in the area where it connects with the lower end of the thigh bone (femur).
Runner’s knee occurs gradually when the kneecap repeatedly scrapes against the thigh bone instead of gliding along a groove in the bone called the “femoral groove.”
Common causes of runner’s knee are injury and the overuse of the knee in activities such as running, skiing, and jumping. In addition to this, poor form can cause malalignment, i.e. an imperfect alignment that prevents the knee from moving smoothly through the femoral groove. This can result in runner’s knee. Overpronation is one example of poor form, as the feet move inwards and the kneecaps are pulled outwards during walking or running.
Certain states of the muscles can also lead to runner’s knee. Weak thigh muscles cause malalignment as the thighs, unable to support the body weight, rotate inwards, and add strain to the knees. Malalignment also occurs when muscles such as the hamstring and Achilles tendons are too tight and have a limited range of motion.
Furthermore, structural defects can cause the condition. These defects include knock knees, fallen arches or “flat feet,” and kneecaps that are excessively high in the knee joint.
The main symptom of runner’s knee is dull pain at the front or sides of the kneecap. The pain is usually worse during movements like squatting and when the person has been seated with bent knees for a long time. Sometimes there may be swelling, stiffness, and a grinding or clicking noise when the knees are bending.
When deciding on treatment, among the things that the orthopedic doctor will consider are the person’s age, health, pain intensity, and preferences. Treatment usually consists of stopping high-stress exercises until the pain is gone. Applying ice after exercising is also advised as this will relieve pain and swelling.
In addition to this, treatment may also entail anti-inflammatories, cold packs, compression knee wraps, and arch supports. Stretching and strengthening exercises may also be recommended to build thigh muscles and improve alignment. When sitting or lying down, it may also be advised that the leg is elevated on a pillow.
One of the main ways of preventing runner’s knee is avoiding overexertion. It is also important to strengthen muscles such as the glutes, quads, and adductors. Strong muscles will stabilize the knees during movement. Other methods of prevention include warming up before workouts so the muscles are not stiff, and increasing the intensity of workouts gradually rather than abruptly.
It is also essential that people are aware of their form when exercising. When the foot is falling during running or walking, the knee should be bent and the foot should be at an arch rather than being flat on the ground. For people with flat feet, arch supports will help with aligning the body and evenly distributing pressure.
Due to its symptoms, runner’s knee can be easily mistaken for other conditions by untrained personnel. Therefore, it is necessary to be checked by an orthopedic doctor for professional diagnosis and a proper course of treatment to prevent any permanent damage.