RUNNER’S KNEE

Overview

Runner’s knee is the common umbrella term used to describe any one of several conditions that cause pain around the kneecap, called the patella. Runner’s knee is commonly seen in runners but any activity that repeatedly stresses the knee joint can cause the disorder including biking, jumping, cycling, skiing. Underlying causes include Overuse (high-stress exercises), direct trauma, underlying malalignment of bones (mal tracking of the patella over the femur groove), weak or unbalanced muscles, softening of the cartilage of patella (a condition called chondromalacia patella), flatfeet causing knee symptoms, arthritis.

Symptoms

Pain- usually in front of your knee, though it could be around or behind the kneecap felt during bending, squatting, kneeling, running, getting up from the chair, getting worse on going uphill or downhill.

  • Swelling/redness
  • Grinding/popping sensation
  • Instability during movement

Diagnosis

  •  A thorough history and physical examination
  •  Blood test(Uric Acid, Rheumatoid profile, ESR, CRP)
  •  Knee X-rays (Merchant view), orthoscanogram
  •  MRI scan/CT scan

Merchant view showing malalignment of patella (left)

Treatment and Prevention

 

Rice therapy

Rest: Take rest. Avoid repetitive stress on the knee.

Ice: To reduce pain and swelling, apply an ice pack at least 4 to 5 times a day.

Compression: Wrap your knee with a knee cap/crepe bandage (NOT tightly, preferably by a doctor or a health professional)

Elevation: Place a pillow under your knee when lying down to prevent further swelling. Active toe movement.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Acetaminophen the mainstay as prescribed by the orthopedist.

Once the pain and swelling have subsided, specific exercises or physical therapy to restore the knee’s full strength and range of motion. Taping of the knee or a brace to provide extra support and pain relief. Specific shoewear inserts known as orthotics may be prescribed.

Surgery may be recommended if the cartilage is damaged or if the kneecap needs to be realigned either arthroscopically or open.

 

Preventive measures

Weight loss measures:

Stretching/Warming up before the run or physical activities that stresses the knee. Exercises to increase your knee’s flexibility.

Gradually increasing the training. Never increasing the intensity abruptly. Incremental changes in the regimen.

Use proper running shoes with shock absorption ability. Wear orthotics in case of flatfeet.

Try to run on a soft, smooth surface. Avoid running on concrete. Walk or run in a zigzag pattern when going down a steep incline.