Runner’s knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome) is actually a loose term for a number of different things that can go wrong with your knee. It’s aptly named, since it often occurs among runners, and it accounts for about 20% of running injuries. One of the frustrating things about runner’s knee is that isn’t something that shows up on an MRI, x-ray, or other diagnostic test. It’s pain that can be mild in the beginning and will continue to get more severe if the individual doesn’t rest the knee.
The most likely culprit for the pain is chronic stimulation of the pain nerves in the knee. What causes runner’s knee? There are generally three things that can cause runner’s knee: overuse, weak quadriceps, direct trauma to the knee, misalignment of the bones, or podiatric issues like overpronation or high arches.
How do you know if you have runner’s knee? Here are some signs/symptoms:
- Popping or grinding you feel in your knee
- Pain in the knee when walking down the stairs or downhill
- Swelling in the knee area
- Pain felt when bending your knee
The best thing to do if you think you have runner’s knee is to rest. Continuing to run on the knee will only make it worse, and it could lead to other injuries. Follow the RICE guidelines and gradually transition back into running when you no longer feel pain in the knee. It’s also helpful to take an NSAID like ibuprofen.