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Runner’s Knee

by Dr. Jose J. Echenique

Lemak Sports Medicine & Orthopedics

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is pain in the “front” of the knee and around the knee cap. It is often seen in runners, hence its alternate name “runner’s knee”. However, it is commonly seen in non-runners as well. The pain may be exacerbated after a run, when using stairs (especially going downstairs) or when getting up after sitting with the knee bent for a prolonged period of time (ie. stepping out of the car).

The cause of runner’s knees is unknown but it is believed to have to do with “incorrect tracking” of the patella (knee cap) on the trochlea (the grove of the femur). This may place abnormal stress on the undersurface of the patella that may lead to pain.

The good news is that there are simple exercises that are often very effective in relieving the symptoms of runner’s knee. It is believed that they do so by strengthening the muscles that help the patella track appropriately, thereby decreasing the stress on the cartilage.

Exercises aimed at quadriceps strengthening and stretching, and hamstring stretching for 1 month may be all that is needed. Other tips that may accelerate recovery is to try to keep the knee straight when sitting and avoid running, squatting or using stairs if possible while in the rehab period.

If the pain does not resolve, or if there are other symptoms like clicking, catching, locking, instability or history of an injury, it may be worthwhile to see a sports medicine orthopedist.