Runner’s Knee: How to Deal with Common Knee Injuries
What is Runner’s Knee?
Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), or runner’s knee, got its nickname for an obvious and very unfortunate reason—it’s common among runners. The stress of running can cause irritation where the kneecap (patella) rests on the thighbone.
The resulting knee pain can be sharp and sudden or dull and chronic, and it may disappear while you’re running, only to return again afterward. While bio-mechanical issues may be to blame for runner’s knee, the cause can often be traced back to poorly conditioned quadriceps and tight hamstrings. Often treatments address the symptoms, rather than the cause. In order to identify the root issue of an injury such as runner’s knee, it is important to perform a comprehensive Kinetic Chain Evaluation.
There are many types of knee pain, the most common of which is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), or runner’s knee. Of course, you don’t have to be a runner to experience knee pain. Something as simple as going up and down stairs, stepping up or off of a curb can be painful if you have PFPS. The resulting pain may be sudden and sharp or dull and chronic. It might even go away while you are exercising, only to return afterwards. Many sources will say it’s simply biomechanics or poorly conditioned leg muscles. Unfortunately, it’s never that simple and if you’re a runner, it’s not likely that your leg muscles aren’t strong enough. Pinpointing a single cause of knee pain can be difficult because it can be a combination of factors ranging from high arched feet, flat feet, leg length imbalance, decreased muscle activation or improper firing patterns of your muscles. Only a provider trained to analyze both muscles and structural components of your body will be able to complete the necessary steps required to find ALL causes of the problem.
Symptoms can include tenderness behind or under your patella, most often at its center. It’s possible you might even feel pain at the back of the knee or just to the left or right of your patella along with increased tension in your IT bands. Women tend to be more at risk for knee pain than men due to a larger called the “Q angle” and a greater angling of the femur to the knee based on hip anatomy.
Most efforts at treating knee pain are efforts at managing the condition instead of resolving it entirely. Foam rolling, stretching, changing shoes may lead to a reduction in symptoms but rarely solve the problem entirely, especially if your activity level is ramping up.
At the first sign of pain it is vital to get checked immediately by a provider familiar with the treatment and resolution of knee pain. It’s important to check both the structural and muscular integrity of your lower back, hips, knees and feet. Failure to perform a comprehensive Kinetic Chain Evaluation (KCE) makes it less likely you can find a solution that will allow you to remain active and keep working towards your goals. Align Joint and Spine is proud to be the only Chicagoland chiropractic office to offer Kinetic Chain Evaluation, which delivers sustainable and holistic results for knee injuries.
To set up a KCE, give Align Joint and Spine a call at (773) 852-3335.
Knee Pain, Physical Therapy