Runner’s Knee Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Runner’s knee is a broad term used to describe the dull pain around the front of the knee. It is also known as Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).  

In this day and age of work from home leading to lack of sun exposure, people wanting to be active for health reasons, increased sports among kids, and weekend trips involving physical activity and age-related issues has ensured anyone irrespective of age, gender and profession can end up with this problem. This is one of the top 3 complaints I see in my clinic on a regular basis. 

What causes the runner’s knee?

Overuse of the Knees: If you consistently bend your knee or are into doing a lot of high-stress exercises/physical training like lunges and squats can precipitate the pain.

Trauma to the knee 

Chondromalacia Patella –  which means softening of the cartilage under the kneecap.

Weak thigh Muscles: Your quadriceps or those muscles in the front of your thigh keep your kneecap in place when you stretch or bend the joint. If they are tight or weak, your kneecap may not stay in the right spot.

Other causes include the following: 

  •  Malalignment of the knee cap
  • Tight hamstrings
  • Tight Achilles tendons
  •  Flat foot

Symptoms of Runner’s Knee

The main symptom of a runner’s knee is dull and aching pain around or behind the knee cap or patella.

The pain can be felt when you are:

  • Walking after being in the chair for a long time
  • Sitting for a long time with your knee bent
  • Climbing or descending stairs
  • Kneeling
  • Running
  • Standing up from a low seated position
  • Squatting

 The area around your knee could have slight swelling, or you hear a popping or grinding feeling in the knee.

This condition is easily diagnosed in the clinic with minimal or no tests except a routine x-ray of the knee.

What is the treatment for Runner’s Knee?

Runner’s knee is a self-limiting problem and gets better with time provided we do the following: 

Rest to the knees All aggravating factors causing knee pain should be avoided at any cost. Avoid lunging, squatting, or sitting and standing for long periods.

Use of pain Medication –  Short duration of medication < 7 days to break the pain cycle is important and should be taken.

Stretching and strengthening exercises –  One of the most important and crucial aspects of treatment is exercising the knee. Mainly involving the muscles around the knee.  

Ice and elevation – Apply an ice pack around the knee 15-20 min after exercises.. 

Knee Cap – Use a knee cap only during the exercises. Prolonged use can cause wasting of the muscles around the knee.

If your knees continue to hurt, seeing an orthopedic surgeon is important. As other causes of runner’s knee like chondromalacia, alignment and tracking issues of the patella, flat feet need further assessment and treatment accordingly. 

If you have any further queries regarding Runner’s Knee, please contact Dr. Suhas @..

About The Doctor

Dr. A.B. Suhas Masilamani is a Consultant Robotic Joint Replacement Surgeon and Program Director of Sunshine OrthRobotics at Sunshine Hospitals, Hyderabad. He is one of the best orthopedic surgeons trained in New York, USA, and obtained fellowships in adult hip and knee replacement and robotic surgery. He is also one of the few certified trainers in India for Robotic Joint Replacement. 

Dr. Suhas practices all the modern techniques in Orthopedics, like robotic joint replacement, minimally invasive techniques for total knee and total hip replacement, Unicondylar knee replacement, and patella-femoral replacement. He is one of the very few surgeons from the city to become a member of the American Academy of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS). He is also a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the International Congress for Joint Replacement (ICJR).