Runner’s Knee Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

runner's knee

Are you experiencing pain at or around the front of your knee? Do you have a sudden feeling of your knee about to buckle right from underneath you? No matter if you’re an avid runner or a sedentary professional, runner’s knee can happen to anyone. And it’s painful.

Here’s what you need to know about runner’s knee, how to prevent it and how physical therapy treatment can help.

What is Runner’s Knee?

Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a condition that can cause dull, aching or sharp pain on or around your kneecap. It can be aggravated by simply walking up and down the stairs in your house or standing for long periods of time.

In the majority of cases, runner’s knee symptoms are due to overuse injuries.

What are the Symptoms of Runner’s Knee?

As mentioned above, runner’s knee is not narrowed down to one specific diagnosis, but rather more of a cluster of symptoms, including:

  • Pain on or around the kneecap that occurs with activity.
  • Tenderness, weakness or instability after sitting or standing for long periods of time.
  • Clicking or grinding sounds from the kneecap that is present when the knee bends or straightens.
  • Tender-to-the-touch in the kneecap area.

Unfortunately, due to the variety of symptoms, runner’s knee can be misunderstood. Your physical therapist can help you through diagnosis, but an x-ray may be necessary for further evaluation of the knee.

Who Can Suffer from Runner’s Knee?

As the name suggests, runner’s knee is commonly suffered by runners but it can happen to anyone – young and old. Other common causes include structural defects, biomechanical issues, overuse or overloading, imbalances, poorly conditioned quadriceps or even tight hamstrings. Obesity also adds stress on the patellofemoral joint, which can cause patellar pain.

Some evidence (but not all) points to the relationship between gender and runner’s knee due to the “Q angle.” The Q angle is the angle that the upper half of the leg makes with vertical and women tend to have a bigger Q angle than men thanks to wider hips. In theory, this places additional stress on the lower leg and knee which leads to increased number of running injuries.

How to Prevent Runner’s Knee

Prevention is the best treatment for runner’s knee. And start early; kids are not immune to injury.

A recent study, “Evidence-Based Best-Practice Guidelines for Preventing Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Young Female Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis,” published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, suggests that anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) neuromuscular training programs (NMT) needs to target younger athletes.

It’s important to focus on flexibility, mobility and strength at the hips. In many runners who have weak hip stabilizers, the thigh tends to internally rotate as the foot makes contact with the ground. This unconscious compensation results in other muscles taking up the slack for stabilizing the pelvis.

Experience Twin Boro Physical Therapy One2Four Program

With proper treatment, runner’s knee can be fully recovered. If you think you have runner’s knee, don’t attempt to “run through the pain” a moment longer. Through personalized treatment, hands-on therapy and patient education, every one of our 23 Twin Boro Physical Therapy locations throughout New Jersey can help you reduce pain and improve function.

At TwinBoro Physical Therapy in NJ, we use a proprietary One2Four advanced physical therapy technique which helps us identify a unique path for patients to achieve a higher level of function and get back to doing what they love – faster. Read more about our One2Four approach >>

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Why Choose Twin Boro Physical Therapy

Having won a Best in NJ Readers’ Choice in Physical Therapy recognition, Twin Boro has provided NJ residents with high quality physical therapy and rehab for over 38 years! It’s our award-winning approach, proven results and reputation that sets us apart. By incorporating the One2Four program into each patient’s program, the latest and most reliable scientific research and techniques is incorporated into effective evidence-based practice, we deliver only the highest standard of care with the unique One2Four approach.

It’s no surprise that Twin Boro Physical Therapy has also been voted the best physical therapy practice in New Jersey by the readers of mycentraljersey.com.

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