Runner’s knee is one of the most common running injuries we see in the clinic. Runner’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a general term used to describe pain at the front of the knee. The patella (kneecap) lies within the quadriceps tendon and the back of the patella is covered with smooth cartilage. This allows the patella to glide smoothly over the lower part of the thigh bone (femur) when the knee bends and straightens
What causes Runner’s Knee?
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is most likely caused by a combination of factors that increase the pressure between the patella and the femur. This can happen during running, cycling, squatting and going up and down hills. It is common for there to have been an increase in training load around the time the pain started. Other factors such as biomechanics, muscle weakness or previous injury to the knee, also play a part in developing this condition.
What are the symptoms of Runner’s Knee?
- Pain at the front of the knee, normally around or behind the kneecap.
- The pain is generally quite vague and cannot be pin pointed
- The pain is normally worse going up, but particularly, downstairs
- Running, especially downhill can irritate your pain
- Sometimes there is swelling and a grating or grinding feeling around the kneecap
How is Runner’s Knee diagnosed?
The diagnosis is normally made from a good history taking and from the symptoms you present with. When you come into the clinic, we will spend time to understand how your symptoms first presented, what irritates them and what makes them better. We will also try and ascertain whether there were any changes to your training, footwear or running gait before the pain started.
How is runner’s Knee treated?
In the short term, symptoms will normally improve if you do not overuse the knee. That’s not to say you can’t still do some exercise, but it is important not to overdo it. If required, you can use some painkillers and/or anti-inflammatories such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. In some cases, taping the patella can be useful in the short term but doesn’t seem to have any long-term effect.
However, it is important that you are assessed by either a Physiotherapist or Sports Podiatrist. Using either 2D video or our state-of-the-art 3D gait analysis, we can begin to truly understand the biomechanics of why you developed the problem in the first place. By understanding the mechanism of your injury, we can then put in place a bespoke exercise plan to effectively rehabilitate your problem in the long term. We can also advise on whether orthotics/insoles may help your pain in the short to medium term and advise you what training is best to carry on with, and what best to avoid. The long-term outlook of patellofemoral pain syndrome is good, and most people make a full recovery with the correct rehabilitation and training modification.