Runner's Knee: Everything you need to know about Runner's Knee
If you have ever experienced pain in and around the knee joint while running, jogging or even walking up and down stairs, you could be suffering from a common knee problem called Runner's Knee.
You may be wondering "What is Runner's Knee?", and you would not be alone. Which is why we have put together this comprehensive run down of everything you need to know about runner's knee. We will cover:
what is runner's knee,
the causes and symptoms of runner's knee, and
most importantly how to treat and prevent runner's knee.
If you are a regular reader of our website, you would know we always recommend if you feel any doubt or uncertainty, the best course of action is to consult your local medical professional.
Runner's Knee Definition
Runner’s knee is an umbrella term that covers pain anywhere on the side of the knee, from the hip to the top of the knee. It can be the result of a number of different injuries, and is often easy to diagnose with a physical examination.
However, it can be difficult to distinguish between the different causes of runner’s knee, and the early diagnosis of the condition is often the key to a speedy recovery.
It’s important to note that not all runner’s knee causes are the same, and treatment will vary depending on which injury is to blame.
What is Runner's Knee Called?
Runner's knee, also known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, is an overuse injury that occurs when the kneecap doesn't track properly, causing inflammation, pain and swelling.
You might also hear it referred to as “patella-femoral syndrome,” “jumper’s knee,” “chronic patellar tendinosis,” or “femoral-patellar syndrome.”
Once you know the symptoms and causes of runner's knee, you can take steps to prevent it from happening to you.
What Causes Runner's knee?
One of the most common causes of runner's knee is the overuse of the knee joint caused by repeating the same movement over and over (like running).
However, the difficulty is there can be many 'other' causes of runner's knee. These include genetic or structural deformities within the body. Some structural issues that can lead to runner's knee are:
tight muscles that support the knee joint (hamstrings and thigh muscles),
injury to the leg or knee,
abnormal location of the kneecap / patella (too high),
issues with the way you walk or run, causing unusual strain on the knee joint, and
poor foot support causing your foot to land awkwardly and placing unnecessary strain on the knee.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list, however it gives you a good feel for how other injuries or unusual movements can lead to issues like runner's knee.
What is Runner's Knee Symptoms? What does Runner's Knee feel like?
The symptoms of runner's knee vary from person to person but usually include pain and stiffness around your knee joint, especially while you are active and running.
Symptoms of runner's knee can include:
Sudden pain or stiffness in the knee when you first stand up after sitting or lying down. Sudden pain or stiffness when you change your stance while running.
Sudden pain or stiffness when you walk up and down stairs.
Muscle weakness in the knee.
Muscle weakness or pain in the calf.
If you experience these symptoms, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. If you are experiencing pain in or around your knee joints at any point in time during the day, immediately stop running, walking or squatting immediately.
How to Treat and Prevent Runner's Knee
Now you know about runner's knee and the causes, let's take a quick look at how you can treat runner's knee and prevent it from happening in the future.
Knee Braces for Runner's Knee
Knee braces are an effective way to treat the symptoms of runner's knee.
The main purpose behind a knee brace is to provide support to the knee joint. This is achieved by strengthening areas in the knee that may be weakened or misaligned. Therefore, it is extremely effective for treating runner's knee that is caused by structural defects in the knee.
The one thing you need to be aware of is you cannot simply purchase the first knee brace you see. There are many different types of braces for specific purposes. So it pays to do some research before you commit to your next knee brace. For some guidance on which knee brace is best for you check out our round up of the Best Knee Braces for Running.
Knee Sleeves for Runner's Knee
An alternative to a knee brace is to use a knee sleeve for running.
We would recommend using a knee sleeve when you are trying to prevent runner's knee from occuring (or recurring).
Knee sleeves have the advantage of being a slim line knee aid that provides general overall support to the knee. It is perfect for those that have weakened knee joints of muscles. Due to their nature, they are also extremely customizable in that you can adjust the amount of compression you receive from the knee sleeve.
Knee sleeves, however, are not recommended in the cases of when your runner's knee is caused by a specific injury or when you need targeted support to a particular area of the knee.