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Everything You Need to Know About a Runner’s Knee

 

“Runner’s knee” is a general term used in medicine to describe problems that can cause pain in the knee. Although it’s not only the runners who suffer from knee injuries, this term was made up because of numerous runners. The most common causes of a runner’s knee are patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) or iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS). 

Who may get a “runner’s knee”

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is chondromalacia or softening of the patellar cartilage. It is characterized by pain in the front of the knee, often in the kneecap. Most often, PFPS occurs while doing sports with jumps, squats, and landings: running, football, cycling, rowing, tennis, ballet, gymnastics, volleyball, weightlifting, skiing, etc.

Not only athletes suffer from a “runner’s knee” People who have a sedentary lifestyle, have underdeveloped leg muscles and insufficiently elastic fascia. So, they are also at risk.

Symptoms

The most common evidence of chondromalacia is a dull aching pain in the kneecap. It occurs or intensifies during or after squats, walking on stairs, and other exercises that involve the knee joint. Other common symptoms include:

  • pain during active work of the knee joint (while running, squats, jumping);
  • pain in bent knees when sitting for a long time (at the table, in transport);
  • limited mobility and range of motion of the joint;
  • crunching (crackling) in the knee when standing up or climbing stairs;
  • pain can spread to the femur. Sometimes acute pain in the hips or in the back is felt before the pain in the knee joint.

What causes a “runner’s knee”

The clinical symptoms develop due to a displacement of the kneecap trajectory. This occurs with injuries, violation of pronation, or for other reasons. At the same time, the cartilaginous surface of the kneecap is greatly worn out. The supporting structures are also overstressed, which causes pain. Permanent microtraumas, inflammation reduce the elasticity of the ligaments that stabilize the kneecap. This leads to the gradual destruction of the knee joint itself.

Often PFBS occurs due to poor muscle development. That is why a syndrome appears in people who don’t lead an active lifestyle.

Chondromalacia can be caused by:

  • heavy load on the knee;
  • knee injuries;
  • lack of synovial fluid in the joint;
  • too weak or too stiff thigh muscles;
  • flat feet;
  • no warm-up before running;
  • arthritic inflammation of the joint;
  • strong shock load while running.

Yes, the “runner’s knee” can also be earned because of jogging in the wrong shoes. Especially when running on a rough surface, so the knees get 3-5 times the greater load.

Treatment and prevention

In many cases, a “runner’s knee” can be treated at home. Stick to the RICE principle: rest, ice, pressure bandage, and elevated leg position. But firstly, you should plan the rehabilitation program with your pain management doctor.

In the acute phase, first of all, it is necessary to give rest to an injured joint. Keep your leg elevated when you sit or lie. This helps to reduce swelling and relieve inflammation. Also, it is recommended to apply ice for 20-30 minutes. 

Fix the knee joint with an elastic bandage to provide it with external support. In case of severe pain, you may take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.). Consult your doctor before taking medication. 

Curing a “runner’s knee” may be a long and struggling process. It’s better to think ahead and take preventing measures:

  • keep fit and keep track of your weight;
  • warm-up before training, at least 10 minutes;
  • increase loads gradually;
  • use good running shoes with ample cushioning;
  • use orthopedic insoles for flat feet;
  • work on your running technique;
  • avoid training on surfaces that are too hard.

 

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