Running is not only the king of cardio, but it also has mood-boosting effects that can last all day long. No wonder why so many people love to run! However, running can take a toll on your knees, putting you at risk of knee injuries. When you run, the knees experience pressure equal to approximately five times your body weight. In other words, a person who weighs 130 pounds puts roughly 650 pounds of pressure on the knee when landing after each stride. Not surprisingly, the knee is the most frequently injured joint in runners.
Learn about the different types of knee injuries and what you can do to continue doing what you love.
Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, means that you have dull pain around the front of the knee (patella). This condition is very common, affecting nearly 15% of all runners at some point in their running career. The most common symptom of runner’s knee is an aching pain around or behind the knee cap.
Common causes for runner’s knee include:
- Overuse and/or repetitive stress
- Trauma to the kneecap
- Inadequate stretching before exercise
- Structural deformities in the legs, such as patellar malalignment
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
If you experience nagging pain on the outer part of your knee, especially if you’re a runner, you may have iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome. The IT band is a thick piece of fibrous tissue that begins at the hip, extends along the outside of the thigh, and attaches to the top of the tibia or shinbone. If the IT band becomes too tight from strain or overuse, it can cause swelling and pain around the knee.
Jumper’s knee, also known as patellar tendonitis, is an overuse injury that occurs when a tendon is overloaded, causing it to thicken. This injury is more common in sports with a lot of running and jumping, such as volleyball, basketball, and track and field. Common symptoms of jumper’s knee include:
- Pain beneath the kneecap when moving
- Bruising or redness
- Leg or calf weakness
- Stiffness of the knee while squatting, jumping or kneeling
For most people, knee injuries from running can improve with treatments that directly address the pain’s problems. To help relieve pain and speed recovery, you can:
- Rest your knee. Try to avoid doing things that irritate your knee, especially running. Give yourself a few weeks of rest before getting on the track again.
- Ice. Ice can help ease pain and swelling. Ice your knee for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours for a few days or until the pain subsides.
- Wrap your knee. You may want to try wearing a knee brace to give your knee extra support.
- Take NSAIDs. If needed, take ibuprofen or naproxen. These can help with pain and swelling.
Knee injuries in runners can range from minor to severe, so it’s important to take some time off from running and see your healthcare provider if pain persists. Our team can examine your running-related knee problem and recommend the next steps to find relief.
If a 3-6 month trial of conservative, self-care treatments has not provided relief, schedule an appointment with one of the Center for Interventional Pain & Spine’s specialized providers! We offer advanced interventional and minimally invasive techniques to help treat chronic complex pain. Schedule your appointment today!
The following CIPS physicians have a special interest in the treatment of joint pain.
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