Dr. Frank Collier is a board-certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician and Pain Management Specialist who specializes in the treatment of injuries and illnesses that affect how people move and function while living with pain.VIEW FULL BIO
Running is an excellent form of aerobic activity, strengthening the muscles and boosting cardiovascular health. However, running is also a leading source of injury, according to Jacksonville orthopedic specialists. One problem is so endemic around runners that it goes by the name “runner’s knee.” This issue is treatable with physical therapy and can be prevented with appropriate precautions.
What Are the Symptoms of Runner’s Knee?
Runner’s knee is known to orthopedic doctors by its medical title, patellofemoral pain syndrome. In a perfectly healthy knee, the cartilage under the kneecap keeps the knee joint moving smoothly. During the running stride, the thigh bone and shin bones must work together to allow the leg to move continuously. For people who run heavily, this continuous movement may stress the knee joint and lead to softening of this cartilage. Softened cartilage or loss of cartilage may contribute to pain as the thigh bone contacts the shin bone during the running stride. Some of the symptoms of runner’s knee include:
- Pain under the kneecap when running
- Swelling of the knee and surrounding area
- Pain in the knee when the leg is bent
- Feeling a grinding or popping sensation in the knee
How to Prevent and Treat Runner’s Knee
Fortunately, runner’s knee rarely leads to permanent problems with mobility. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends that those diagnosed with runner’s knee give their joint plenty of rest, ice, compression and elevation. This decreases swelling and can help to control pain. For persistent problems with knee pain, a sports medicine specialist may recommend specific treatments.
If you are worried about developing runner’s knee, there are several things that you can do to prevent it. First, staying in shape prevents additional weight from being placed on your knee joints. As excess weight can strain joints, it’s best to maintain a healthy weight. Next, always stretch before you begin to run. This keeps muscles and ligaments limber, allowing the knee joint to accommodate the running motion. When the small muscles and ligaments surrounding the knee get too tight, you risk a serious injury. Also, remember to wear running shoes with adequate shock absorbency, which can prevent excess impact from traveling up the leg to the knees.
The AAOS also recommends that runners take things slow when beginning a training regimen or returning from an injury. Finally, using good form is helpful to prevent runner’s knee. Proper running form includes keeping the back straight, leaning forward slightly and bending the knees. This decreases impact and keeps the knee joints healthy.