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Runner’s Knee: What You Should Know

POSTED BY: Florida Hospital

Regular physical activity is an important part of your whole health. After all, exercise has been proven to benefit more than just your body: It can help boost your mood and help you find balance in a busy lifestyle.

When pain keeps you sidelined from enjoying your favorite activities, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis of what’s causing your discomfort. Runner’s knee (pain felt in the front of the knee or around the kneecap) is one of the most common knee injuries among active adults, and it doesn’t just affect runners.

Also called patellofemoral pain syndrome, runner’s knee can have several causes, including:

  • Excess weight
  • Injury
  • Misaligned bones
  • Overuse
  • Problems with your feet
  • Weak thigh muscles

Symptoms of runner’s knee include:

  • Grinding or crunching feelings within the knee
  • Pain in the front of the knee
  • Pain that worsens with movement
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling

Treating Knee Pain

Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something’s not quite right. When you experience pain or unusual soreness during physical activity, listen to your body and take a break. Fortunately, most knee pain can be treated at home with RICE:

  • Rest – Take a break from physical activities or exercise that place stress on your knee. Try swimming, biking, or walking instead of running, jumping, or intense sports (such as basketball, soccer, or football).
  • Ice – Ice the knee for 20 minutes, four to eight times a day.
  • Compression – Wrap the knee in an elastic bandage to help reduce swelling.
  • Elevate – Prop your injured knee on a pillow, elevating it above your heart to promote blood flow, reduce swelling, and relieve pain.

If your knee pain continues over a few days with proper self-care at home, then it’s time to contact your doctor.

Diagnosing Knee Conditions

Diagnosing your injury is the first step you need to take to get back the activities you love. Your primary care provider will do a complete evaluation of your knee, including asking you about when your first noticed knee pain and your physical activity level.

If runner’s knee is suspected, your doctor will also order imaging tests, such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. These tests will provide a clear image of what’s happening in your knee, which helps your doctor understand the cause of your symptoms and create a treatment plan that’s right for you.

  • MRI – This imaging test allows your provider to see soft tissue around the knee and diagnose issues with your meniscus or the tendons and ligaments that help stabilize your kneecap.
  • X-ray – X-rays use electromagnetic waves to create pictures of bones inside your body. This helps your doctor identify anything that may be causing knee pain, such as a fracture, bone spur, or arthritis.

Helping You Get Back to Whole Health

We know that when you’re injured or not feeling well, you want answers. We’re committed to delivering the care you need to help you feel — and be — your best. When it comes to knee pain, there’s a network of orthopedic experts, access to the latest imaging technology and physical therapy to support your journey back to whole health.

Learn more here