Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee at a glance

  • Runner’s knee is a general term used to describe several disorders caused by overuse of the knee joint.
  • Symptoms include pain around or behind the kneecap, swelling, and a grinding feeling in the knee.
  • Initial treatment for runner’s knee should include the RICE protocol: rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the knee. Over-the counter pain medication may also be used. Talk to your pharmacist before purchasing anti-inflammatories as these medications may be contraindicated as they may interact with other medications and medical conditions.
  • Severe cases of runner’s knee may require surgery to treat.

Causes of runner’s knee

Runner’s knee is caused by overuse and strain of the knee joint. Causes of runner’s knee include sports activities that require repetitive bending motion in the knee, usually running, and are commonly seen in sports medicine. This irritates the nerves in the kneecap or over stresses the tendons that connect muscle to bone in the knee joint.

Trauma to the knee (such as from a fall or direct blow) and weak thigh muscles can also cause runner’s knee symptoms.

Runner’s knee may also result from the misalignment of the bones in the joint, which can cause the weight of the body to be distributed unevenly in the knee.

Flat feet, also known as fallen arches, may contribute to runner’s knee by overstretching the tendons in the lower leg.

Symptoms of runner’s knee

People with runner’s knee typically experience pain around or behind the kneecap, swelling, and a grinding sensation in the knee. Pain from runner’s knee usually increases when walking down a flight of stairs or up an incline, such as a ramp.

Treatment of runner’s knee

Runner’s knee is commonly treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Over-the-counter pain medication may also be helpful for managing the pain associated with runner’s knee.

A healthcare provider may suggest special exercises or stretches that can help treat runner’s knee. For those with flat feet, arch supports may be inserted into the shoes to reduce the strain put on the tendons.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove damaged cartilage or correct the position of the kneecap.

If you experience knee pain and symptoms associated with runner’s knee, contact our orthopedic specialists to learn more about your treatment options.