Runner’s Knee Pain


Knee pain can be one of the disruptive elements of a good run. That dull achy pain in the front of your knee that won’t go away no matter what. Sometimes you can experience the same pain after sitting for long periods, and as time passes, the pain during activity or after long, sedentary periods continues to occur.

If you have experienced a scenario such as this, chances are your symptoms are the result of a condition known as patellofemoral pain syndrome—commonly referred to as runner’s knee.

Runner’s Knee: What is it?

Patellofemoral pain syndrome or runner’s knee is an orthopaedic condition that affects the tissues, nerves, and bone of the kneecap (patella). The symptoms of this condition result from the flaring of pain sensation in nerves located within the knee. This excess pressure can be caused due to poor biomechanics when running or jumping increasing the strain on all the structures surrounding the knee.

Typical runner’s knee symptoms include aching pain during repetitive activity that stresses or bends the knee, pain after an extended period of rest with bent knees (sitting), pain that flares in response to increases in frequency or intensity of activity and sounds or sensations of popping and cracking within the knee. Inflammation around the knee may also occur.

How Does Runner’s Knee Develop?

There are three main root causes of runner’s knee: Overuse (or high-impact use), chondromalacia patella, (wearing of the cartilage on the back of the knee cap) or malalignment of the patella.

The most common, and easiest to treat, cause of this condition among runners and other athletes is simple overuse or heavy, repetitious high-impact activity. As an activity that bends the knee (such as running) causes stress to the knee over time, the tissues of the patella can become aggravated, causing painful symptoms. This may likewise occur due to changes in your activity (especially an increase in the intensity or duration of activity).

Patellar malalignment, which will also play a role, this normally results from either weak and imbalanced muscles in the knees and legs (especially the quadriceps) or structural deformity that causes the kneecap to track incorrectly. Over time, this can cause pain and damage within the patella—which is exaggerated by intense, repetitive activity.

What to Do If You’re Experiencing Runner’s Knee Symptoms

The optimal treatment path for any knee condition is too first to improve the biomechanics of the knee joint so that any irritating factors are reduced, and you can get on with your daily life. From there we strengthen all the stabilising muscles in your legs and hips to make sure this pain never comes back again. At the Markland clinic, we pride ourselves on our ability to work around your running and the hole it can leave, by designing a personal plan getting you back to doing what you love as soon as possible.

As this is a condition that when left for a long time can increase the chance of developing longer-term conditions, the best thing to do is to book in with one of our physiotherapists. Give us a call on 01285 654059 to start your journey.

George Stacey-Stevens

Physiotherapist at the Markland Clinic

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