Runners Knee

What is Runners Knee?

Runner’s knee occurs when the kneecap (patella) becomes out of alignment preventing it from smoothly sliding up and down the groove in the femur. Owing to its name, this injury is one of the most common amongst long-distance runners.

Causes

  • Overpronation
  • Weakness or imbalance in the quadriceps
  • Tightness in the hamstrings, calf muscles or IT band
  • Poor footwear
  • Poor running technique

Symptoms

  • Pain and soreness behind and around the knee cap
  • Pain when resuming activity
  • Aching and stiffness
  • Clicking sensation when bending the knee

Treatment

  • RICE method
  • Taping and strapping techniques
  • Physiotherapy
  • Good fitting running shoes
  • Orthotic Insoles from a podiatrist

Overpronation is a condition in which the foot rolls whilst walking and running and is a common cause of runner’s knee. As the foot rotates it causes the rest of the leg to become out of alignment which in turn causes the kneecap position to become unaligned. This can be caused by tightness in the calf muscles and hamstrings as the foot and rest of the leg has to accommodate the tightness to gain the same movements. Overpronation can also be down to poor biomechanics and inadequate and unsupportive footwear.

Weakness or imbalance in the inner quadriceps is another cause of runner’s knee as the stronger outer quadriceps can force the patella out of alignment.

Diagnosis

In order to diagnose runners knee, a doctor or physiotherapist will give an examination of the area. Often a doctor will carry out and X-ray or MRI scan in order to confirm the diagnosis and also to rule out any further complications.

Runners Knee Recovery Time

Two weeks. It usually takes around two weeks to heal a runners knee, but it may take up to six weeks for the pain to fully subside.

Does Runners Knee Require Surgery?

This depends on how severe your injury is. Often it is not needed, but rare cases may require surgery. If you require replacement of cartilage or re positioning of the kneecap then surgery may be necessary.

Where Does Runners Knee Hurt?

Pain experienced through runners knee can be felt in the kneecap, either just under or just above.

Further Info

Patients who suffer hamstring tendonitis are likely to feel pain in the back and around the knee cap which gradually becomes more apparent through continued activity which involves bending and straightening the knee. Pain may also be felt when sitting for long periods of time and also performing activities such as climbing stairs or hills. Patients often complain of a ‘clicking’ or ‘grinding’ sensation whilst moving and in more severe cases a feeling of the knee giving way or collapsing can be felt.

Patients are likely to feel aching and stiffness which becomes more apparent first thing in the morning and often the knee joint will feel a weak.

In order to treat runner’s knee, rest is crucial in order to allow the injury time to heal and to prevent any further activity which could cause damage or discomfort to the injury. Applying ice to the injury is an important aspect of healing as it will reduce any swelling and inflammation as well as providing cooling pain relief to the injury. Using the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation) is beneficial for the first 72 hours of the injury occurring as it will reduce swelling to the area and by keeping the injury elevated blood flow is restricted which can prevent further inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory medications can also be taken in order to reduce swelling as well as relieving pain or achiness from the injury.

When the injury has begun healing and you are advised by a physiotherapist or doctor, it is important for the patient to undergo a rehabilitation program such as strengthening and stretching exercises which will keep the area strong and make it easier to return to sports once the injury has fully recovered. These exercises should not be carried out if the patient feels pain in the area and the advice of a physiotherapist should always be sought in order to obtain an exercise regime suitable for the individual.

Knee supports and braces can be found here at Firstaid4sport which may help to aid recovery of runners knee.

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