Runners Knee

Runner's knee is a broad term used to describe one of several knee problems that result in feeling dull pain around the front of the knee (patella). It may be caused by a structural defect, or a certain way of walking or running. Symptoms include pain, and rubbing, grinding, or clicking sound of the kneecap.

Runners Knee
Runners Knee
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Your Guide to Understanding Runners Knee

What is Runners Knee?

Patellofemoral syndrome, commonly known as runner's knee, refers to a condition characterized by patellofemoral pain, often felt behind or around the kneecap during activities like running, jumping, or squatting. This syndrome encompasses various conditions that cause pain around the patella due to physical and biomechanical factors, leading to discomfort and limitations in physical activities. Patellofemoral pain can result from factors such as overuse, muscle imbalances, or improper tracking of the kneecap within the femoral groove.

How can Physiotherapy help treat Runners Knee?

Physiotherapists play a crucial role in the treatment of runner's knee (patellofemoral syndrome) by employing various strategies to alleviate pain and improve function. They may utilize targeted exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee, particularly the quadriceps and hip abductors, which can help improve patellar tracking and reduce stress on the knee joint.

Additionally, physiotherapists may employ manual therapy techniques to address soft tissue restrictions and joint mobility, along with providing guidance on activity modification and biomechanical corrections to enhance movement patterns and reduce strain on the knee. Furthermore, they can educate individuals on proper stretching, strengthening, and home care strategies to support recovery and prevent recurrence.

What causes Runners Knee?

Runner's knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is often caused by a combination of factors such as overuse, biomechanical issues, muscle imbalances, and improper tracking of the kneecap within the femoral groove. Repetitive stress from activities like running, jumping, or squatting can lead to irritation and inflammation around the patella, contributing to the development of runner's knee. Weak or tight muscles, poor biomechanics, and structural irregularities in the knee joint can further predispose individuals to this condition.

What treatments might help Runners Knee?

Treatment for runner's knee aims to alleviate symptoms and address underlying causes. It may include the following approaches: first, rest is crucial, as taking a break from activities that exacerbate the condition can help reduce pain and inflammation. Second, ice and elevation are beneficial, as applying ice to the affected area and keeping the knee elevated can help alleviate swelling and discomfort. Third, physical therapy plays a vital role, as engaging in exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee can improve support and stability.

Supportive devices, such as knee straps or tape, can provide additional support to the knee joint during physical activity. Medication, such as over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, may help manage pain and swelling.

Furthermore, orthotics, in the form of custom shoe inserts, can assist in correcting any biomechanical issues contributing to the condition. Lifestyle adjustments, including modifying activities and adopting proper techniques for exercises like running or jumping, can reduce stress on the knee. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be considered to address structural abnormalities or persistent symptoms.

Signs of Runners Knee:

Runner's knee manifests through various signs. These signs include pain around the kneecap, particularly during physical activity, discomfort after extended periods of sitting with the knees bent, sensations of grinding or swelling around the knee joint, and exacerbation of symptoms during activities like running, squatting, lunging, or ascending or descending stairs.

Symptoms of Runners Knee:

The symptoms of runner's knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, include pain in and around the kneecap that occurs during physical activity, discomfort after prolonged periods of sitting with the knees bent, sensations of grinding or swelling around the knee joint, and an exacerbation of symptoms during activities such as running, squatting, lunging, or ascending or descending stairs. These symptoms are indicative of the condition and may warrant medical attention, especially if they persist or worsen over time.

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When is the right time to see a Physiotherapist for Runners Knee?

The right time to see a physiotherapist for runner's knee (patellofemoral syndrome) depends on the severity and persistence of symptoms. It's advisable to seek medical attention if the pain persists, if there's difficulty in walking, or if there's no improvement within approximately a month despite engaging in strengthening exercises.

Meet our Lead Registered Physiotherapist

Brittany Pereira

Brittany Pereira

Registered Physiotherapist

Registered Physiotherapist with a degree from the University of Toronto

Brittany enjoys working with patients across age groups and backgrounds to help them move better, get stronger, understand their bodies and ultimately, feel more confident. She combines her knowledge and clinical experience to best serve her patients.

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Physiotherapist Brittany Pereira working with client at Anchor Health and Performance Clinic Mississauga
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