Runner's knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome or PFPS, is a term used to describe a number of different types of conditions that cause pain around the front of the kneecap. This includes patella tracking issues and chondromalacia patella. Runner's knee can affect one or both knees, and typically is observed in young adults.
Causes of Runner's Knee
Runner's knee can result from a number of different causes. The most common is an overuse injury. As its name suggests, repetitive activities that use the knees, such as running, can cause this condition. Direct force or blunt trauma to the area can also cause runner's knee. This most often happens in sports when athletes fall or come in contact with other players. Some patients are born with flat feet or misaligned bones, which can cause stress to the knee joint as it bears your body's weight. Weak muscles around the knee can also be a factor in runner's knee.
Symptoms of Runner's Knee
The most common symptom of runner's knee is pain around or behind the kneecap. This pain may be accentuated when the knee is bent during walking, kneeling, squatting, running, or going down stairs or downhill. Sitting for long periods of time may also cause aching. In some cases, there may be swelling and even a popping or grinding sensation in the knee.
What to do for Runner's Knee
If you think you are suffering from Runner's Knee it's best to check with your doctor. Often initial treatment includes the RICE method.Rest - Give your knee time to recover and stop the activities that cause pain.
Ice - Cold therapy helps reduce pain and swelling. Ice your knee every few hours until the pain is gone.
Compression - Wrap your knee with a compressive bandage or wear a knee sleeve.
Elevation - This also helps reduce swelling in the knee.
Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin may also help reduce pain and swelling.
Return to activity is allowed after the pain has gone away. Make sure that you have proper footwear and try to run on softer surfaces when possible. Some doctors may prescribe a physical therapy program to strengthen and stretch the muscles around the knee. A knee brace for runner's knee is often recommended, such as the DonJoy Reaction Knee Brace. It has a web-like design that helps distribute the forces on your knee during activity. It also helps stabilize the kneecap on all sides to help alleviate pain. Runners and cyclists sometimes prefer the DonJoy Cross Strap, because it was designed with these athletes in mind.