Patellofemoral pain syndrome – more commonly known as “runner’s knee” – is one of the most common running ailments out there and, unfortunately, it’s something that can either slow you down or sideline you completely, depending upon its severity. It should be noted that, while patellofemoral pain syndrome isn’t exclusive to runners (it can affect anyone), it does tend to occur a LOT amongst the running community (hence its nickname).
Runner’s knee can affect one or both knees and is often seen in younger, recreational runners (and twice as many women as men – this is due to the fact that women tend to have wider hips, which results in a greater angling of the thighbone to the knee which, in turn, puts the kneecap(s) under more stress. Symptoms of runner’s knee include tenderness behind or around the patella (knee cap), usually toward its center. You may feel pain toward the back of the knee, a sense of cracking or that the knee’s giving out. The condition tends to worsens when athletes run uphill, downhill, or up and down stairs. A popping sensation is sometimes audible. In the worst cases, the knee may swell.
This all due to the fact that the stress of running can cause irritation where the kneecap (patella) rests on the thighbone. The resulting pain can be sharp and sudden or dull and chronic, and it may disappear while you’re running, only to return again afterward. There are also muscular causes. Tight hamstring and calf muscles put pressure on the knee, and weak quadriceps muscles can cause the patella to track out of alignment. Just the repetitive force of a normal running stride alone can be enough to provoke an attack.
To prevent runner’s knee, try to run on softer surfaces, and keep any mileage increases less than 10 percent per week, and gradually increase hill work in your program. It’s also extremely important to make sure that you’re wearing the correct running shoes for YOU – that means that they’ll need to be appropriate for your foot type, gait, and stride. Strengthening your quadriceps will also help with the tracking of the knee cap, and stretching your hamstrings and calves can help you avoid over-pronation. If you start to experience knee pain while running, STOP! Do NOT try to just tough it out and run through the pain! Instead, at the first sign of pain, cut back your mileage. The sooner you’re able to lessen the workload that’s being placed on your knees, the faster healing begins.
If knee pain is something that you’re dealing with – be it from running or anything else – please don’t hesitate to give us a call! Prairie Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery is here to help get you back on the road to recovery.
source: runnersworld.com; aaos.org