How to Avoid Getting Runner’s Knee
Also called patellofemoral pain syndrome, runner’s knee is pretty common for many people, especially among runners, from whom the condition is named. But what exactly is runner’s knee?
Your kneecap usually moves back and forth as you bend your leg, but several factors, such as muscle weeakness and imbalance, can throw off its alignment and drive the kneecap to rub against the thigh bone. This results in knee pain and swelling, and usually gets worse the more you move the affected area around.
Who Can Get Runner’s Knee?
While it’s a common condition for runners, any activity that can place a lot of repeated stress on the knee joint can cause runner’s knee, whether it’s jumping, cycling, playing soccer, or even simply walking. Anyone can also get runner’s knee, but this condition tends to be more common in women than in men, as well as people who are overweight.
The Symptoms of Runner’s Knee
The main indicator for runner’s knee is a dull pain in the kneecap area, particularly in the area where the kneecap meets the lower part of the femur. If you feel this pain during these instances in your daily activity, you might be experiencing runner’s knee syndrome:
- Climbing stairs
- Sitting down or standing up
Keep in mind that if you do experience this symptom during any of these activities, be sure to consult a doctor as soon as possible to get the right diagnosis and treatment. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor will need to know your complete medical history as well as conduct a thorough physical examination, and even include an X-ray or a CT scan i needed.
Treating Runner’s Knee
In most cases of runner’s knee, the good news is that it’s possible to treat it without using surgery. The first step to doing so is usually to practice RICE, which is an acronym for the following steps:
- Rest – Avoid placing stress on the knee at all costs
- Ice – Applying a cold compress, such as an ice pack or a package of frozen peas on the knee for thirty minutes at a time, can help reduce the pain and swelling
- Compress – Restrict swelling of the affectea area by wrapping it with an elastic bandage or sleeve
- Elevate – Prevent any further swelling by placing pillows under your knee whenever you sit or lie down. For significant swelling, it’s important to keep the food elevated above the knee, and the knee above heart-level
Your doctor may also recommend anti-inflammatory medications that you can get over the counter. Once the pain and swelling has disappeared, getting started with physical therapy can help you regain your knee’s full strength and range.