Patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as “runner’s knee,” is considered the most common running ailment. The stress from running can cause irritation under, slightly above or below the kneecap, which is why runner’s knee isn’t a specific injury.
Common causes of runner’s knee include:
- Overuse, especially if you constant perform repeated bending or high-stress exercises such as lunges or plyometrics.
- Weak or unbalanced thigh muscles
- A direct blow to the knee
- Malalignment, when your bones are not lined up correctly
- Issues with your feet, including fallen arches, overpronation, and hypermobile feet
- A fractured kneecap
The main symptom of runner’s knee is a dull, aching pain around or behind the kneecap, especially where it meets the lower part of the thighbone or femur. You may feel pain when walking, running, kneeling, squatting, climbing or descending stairs, sitting down or standing up, or sitting for a long time with the knee bent. Other symptoms include swelling and grinding or popping in the knee.
For most people, runner’s knee can be successfully treated without surgery. The injury heals on its own with time and treatments which address the knee issue that’s causing the pain.
To speed up the recovery process, those suffering from runner’s knee should do the following:
- Rest your knee as much as possible by avoiding activities which may worsen the pain, including running, lunging, squatting, or standing or sitting for long periods of time.
- Ice your knee for 20-30 minutes every three to four hours for two to three days, or until the pain goes away.
- Wrap your knee with an elastic bandage, sleeves, or patellar straps for extra support.
- Elevate your leg on a pillow when you’re sitting or lying down.
- Take NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen to combat inflammation and relieve pain and swelling.
- Stretch and perform strengthening exercises.
- Use arch supports or orthotics for your shoes.
People heal at different rates, so your recovery time is based on your body and your injury. Whatever you do, do not rush it.