Runner’s Knee: What is patellofemoral pain syndrome?

Runner's Knee

You don’t have to be an athlete to experience patellofemoral pain or “runner’s knee”. In fact, anyone can experience symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome. If you’re someone who feels a grating sensation when bending your knee or experiences anterior knee pain when kneeling or climbing stairs, your kneecap might have veered off the patellar groove, causing overpressure on that part of the femur. Any deviation of the patellar’s alignment could result in PFPS. When this happens over time, the area can lead to pain and discomfort.

If this is the case for you, pain above the knee cap could have been caused by weak thigh muscles or tightened muscles or tendons around the knee. Alternatively, it could be caused by a previous injury or trauma to the kneecap.

Runner’s Knee vs Jumper’s Knee

Home remedies for knee painAlthough two completely different issues, runner’s knee and jumper’s knee can both be caused by overuse. Jumper’s knee or patellar tendonitis is pain that is centralized to just below the kneecap and results when the tendon connecting your shin bone to your knee cap becomes inflamed. Runner’s knee happens when the nerves in the tendons, bone and tissue sense a dull, aching pain in the front of the knee. Symptoms of jumper’s knee include knee tenderness or pain when stretching or swelling in the knee. If you’re experiencing any knee pain, it’s crucial to receive a proper medical examination to determine what the underlying cause of the knee pain is.

Does Patellofemoral pain syndrome go away?

This condition will not simply dissipate without changing your approach to activities or adjusting your workouts to relieve some of the weight your knees bear with a brace or crutches. With any pain that’s preventing you from doing normal activities, it’s always best to get the issue examined by a professional orthopedic surgeon or sports medicine doctor like Dr. Van Thiel. The good news is that runner’s knee is very treatable and might only take a few months to recover.

What exercises can I do with patellofemoral pain syndrome?

When looking for pain relief from patellofemoral pain syndrome, make sure to consult with your doctor or physical therapist before trying any exercises. Beyond any lower-impact exercises like swimming or water aerobics, there are a few recommended stretches that focus on the quads to work into your routine. Exercises like isometrics and straight leg raises are great for knee pain because the stronger your quads are, the better they can control the movement of your kneecap. Others like hip, buttock and iliotibial stretches are great for both knees. Focusing on your outer hip muscles will prepare your knees for landing from a jump or squatting. Remember that overuse of the knee could be a reason why you’re experiencing these symptoms, so be cognizant of how much you’re straining your affected knee during any exercises. Make sure to avoid any high-impact exercises like lunging, running, jumping or stair climbing.

How else can I relieve pain from runner’s knee?

  • A patellofemoral brace: This device will help support your knee while stretching or working out to prevent the patella from moving too much.
  • RICE: A tried and true protocol for people dealing with pain from runner’s knee – rest, ice, compression and elevation is most effective after 72 hours of sustaining an injury.
  • Medication: Not recommended to take on a long-term basis, but NSAIDS or anti inflammatory medications will help with pain relief.
  • Support your feet: To reduce any additional stress on your joints, wear orthopedic shoes or a shoe insert.
  • Surgery: Depending on the severity of the injury, an arthroscopic procedure might be necessary to remove damaged cartilage or change the direction of the patella.

At OrthoIllinois, Dr. Van Thiel uses the most advanced techniques to diagnose and treat knee problems. To schedule your visit at our Rockford or Algonquin offices, use our online form or give us a call at (779) 774-1110.


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