Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome or Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee affects many Australians, because we’re a pretty active bunch. This article helps you identify the symptoms of runner’s knee, understand what causes it, and explore some options for treatment.

What is runner’s knee?

Runners knee, technically known as ‘patellofemoral pain syndrome’ is a pain in the front of your knee when running, exercising, or even following exercise. The patella is the part where your knee connects to the lower end of the thighbone (the femur), and many runners often experience pain here despite having no other major knee injury.

The pain is usually defined as dull, but the area can also be sensitive to the touch.

Causes of runner’s knee

Your leg is one big organism that works together, so a number of other issues can be an underlying cause of patellofemoral pain syndrome. Physical issues that can cause runner’s knee include:
Weak thigh muscles
Tightness in the hamstrings
Tight Achilles tendons
Your kneecap is too high in the knee joint

You can do something about most of these issues, by strengthening your other leg muscles and increasing flexibility. But there are also some other things that can contribute to the injury, including:
Poor arch support in your shoes
Feet rolling in while walking or running
Impact injuries to the knee
Overuse, such as too much running

By making some changes to the way you exercise, and exploring options to correct potentially damaging foot movements, you can help to prevent the injury from recurring. Proper arch support in your shoes can help stop your feet rolling inward, therefore your kneecap won’t be pulled outward which leads to pain.

Runner’s knee symptoms

The obvious symptom is that you experience knee pain while running, however, there are other symptoms that can help diagnose runner’s knee.
Knee pain when squatting (or even sitting with your knees bent for a long time)
A rubbing or grinding sound when bending the knee
The kneecap is sore to touch

Fortunately, there are plenty of treatment options and exercises for knee pain available.

Treatment for runner’s knee

When treating runner’s knee, it’s a good idea to consult your physiotherapist first. This is because several things can help determine the best method of recovery. However, some common treatments include:
Knee pain exercises (stretching and strengthening)
Ice packs
Keeping the leg elevated
Arch support for your running shoes
Compression wraps
Anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen

Most of all, you’ll want to avoid running until you can do so without pain.

How to prevent runner’s knee

There are a number of things you can do to prevent runner’s knee, but the main thing is to not put extra stress on the knee. Here are some tips for avoiding re-injury:
Wear supportive footwear
Always stretch before exercise
Focus on bending your knees while running
If required, losing weight can reduce stress on the knee joint

If you have concerns about your recovery from patellofemoral pain syndrome, the friendly team at Burleigh Central Physiotherapy is here to help. Contact us today and make an appointment for expert advice on runner’s knee recovery and prevention.

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