You aren’t sure how it started, but now you can’t get through a run without nagging knee pain! At first, it’s only when you are running, but over time, even ice, rest and anti-inflammatories are not enough to give you relief. Even simple tasks like getting out of bed or going up and down stairs is painful. How did this happen and how can you get back to running pain-free again? […]
What is Runner’s Knee?
Runner’s knee – a broad term used to describe pain in the front and around the kneecap – is arguably the most common injury among runners. Typically this is a repetitive strain injury and can refer to several different diagnoses, most commonly patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) and iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS). Runner’s may initially feel pain only with running which worsens as duration and distance increases; as symptom’s become more severe, pain can be felt with stairs, squatting, kneeling or even after sitting for a long time with knees bent. Other symptoms of runner’s knee include rubbing, grinding or clicking sound of the kneecap as you bend and straighten or leg, as well as tenderness around the kneecap.
What causes Runner’s Knee?
The pain experienced in athletes with runner’s knee is commonly due to irritation of the soft tissues or lining of the knee, worn cartilage, or strained tendons. This irritation and strain at the knee joint can be caused from a structural defect or faulty biomechanics with repetitive activities including running, jumping and squatting. Some of the most common causes of runner’s knee include:
Can I Run With Runner’s Knee?
Determining whether to continue to run with knee pain or stop temporarily is usually the toughest decision to make with runners and athletes; athletes usually are ok with working through pain, even if its not for their own good. The severity of the symptom’s help determine how much an athlete should be working through the pain, but sometimes shutting it down altogether can actually be counterproductive as it can derail your entire training program. Initially, attempts should be made to dial back the duration and intensity of your runs as well as attempting to get off the pavement and run on the track or off-road trails. If pain persists, the next attempt should be to switch to low impact exercises such as cycling and swimming, although only temporarily to allow pain to settle down. Once pain becomes so severe that it limits workouts altogether, then it is time to see a physical therapist or physician who specializes working with the running population, as the demands of running are unique to other sports such as baseball or tennis.
Runner’s Knee Treatment Options
Runner’s knee can be a very frustrating injury for runners to manage, especially when it impacts training for your next marathon. Here are a few good examples of treatment option’s commonly used to help decrease pain and swelling and therefore help return to sport as quickly as possible:
Home Treatment Options:
Medical Treatment Options:
Fortunately, there are a good amount of treatment option’s out there, majority of which are primarily conservative in nature, including some that can be done right away at home once you begin to feel initial pain around the kneecap. There are other times when a few home treatment options’ aren’t enough, and these require a more personalized and specific strategy. It is always best to seek out a physical therapist or medical professional that specializes working with runners and athletes for guidance on the most appropriate treatment option for each individual as it varies case by case.