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Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee is common among runners, basketball players, skiers, cyclists and soccer players. Pain is felt around the kneecap and specifically the patellofemoral tendon, which connects the kneecap to the quadriceps muscle. Runner’s knee refers to several medical conditions, such as anterior knee pain, patellofemoral malalignment, and chondromalacia of the patella.

Runner’s Knee Causes
The causes of runner’s knee include malalignment of the patella, dislocation or subluxation, excessive training or overuse, tightness, imbalance, weakness of the thigh muscles, or flat feet. Pain in other areas of the body, such as lower back pain or hip pain, can have its root cause in a knee injury. Malalignment of the patella can lead to a wearing away and softening of the tissue under the kneecap resulting in chondromalacia.

Runner’s Knee Symptoms
Dull, achy pain under or around the kneecap where it connects with the lower end of the femur (thigh bone) is a symptom of runner’s knee. Pain occurs with walking, especially up and down stairs, kneeling, squatting, and sitting for long periods of time.

Non-surgical Treatment of Runner’s Knee
Reconditioning the muscles that surround the knee joint may be necessary depending on the amount of time spent away from athletics. Gradually returning to running and stretching the muscles of the knee joint will increase the healing process. Taping the kneecap or wearing a brace may provide extra support. Orthotic shoe inserts may be beneficial for those with flat feet.

Rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) will decrease pain and swelling. Taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, will also provide pain relief.

Surgical Treatment of Runner’s Knee
Damaged cartilage may be removed arthroscopically using a small camera and surgical instruments. In some circumstances, surgical realignment of the kneecap may be necessary. The orthopedic specialists at Gwinnett Medical Center can help you explore such options should they become necessary.

Prevention of Runner’s Knee
Staying in shape, stretching, gradually increasing activity, investing in proper running gear and maintaining proper form are all good suggestions for preventing runner’s knee. Proper stretching technique is also very important.

Need help dealing with Runner’s Knee? Consult the Sports Medicine Program at Gwinnett Medical Center–Duluth. Our expert physical trainers and doctors can prescribe you a treatment plan that will help get you back to playing the sports you love.

For a free physician referral to one of Atlanta’s top sports medicine doctors, please call 678-312-5000.