5 Symptoms of Runner's Knee

Runner’s knee is a physical condition that causes pain in, around or behind the kneecap, or patella. It often affects runners, but can also bother anyone whose physical activities require repetitive knee bending. Runner’s knee isn’t a medical term, but merely a layman’s term for the condition doctors call patellofemoral pain syndrome, and it can have more than one cause. Here are the symptoms of the ailment commonly known as runner’s knee.

1) Pain Behind the Kneecap

Runner’s knee is often caused by a misalignment of the bones in the leg. Often, the femur, or thighbone, is misaligned to the kneecap (patella) and bones of the lower leg. Such misalignment means that your body weight isn’t properly distributed throughout your legs, and this can place undue pressure on your knee joints. In some cases, the kneecap itself becomes misaligned in the joint; this can cause damage to cartilage and tendons and may require corrective surgery.

Problems with the feet, such as fallen arches, can be responsible for abnormalities in gait and misalignment in the bones of the leg. Walking on fallen arches causes the muscles and connective tissues of the legs to stretch and become misshapen, so that they can’t support the knee joint properly. That’s why those with fallen arches or flat feet often experience the painful symptoms of runner’s knee. If your runner’s knee is the result of fallen arches, corrective footwear can help relieve your symptoms. 

2) Pain Upon Bending the Knee

Runner’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, is often the result of an overuse injury. This is common for runners, cyclists and others whose physical activities require repetitive knee bending. Repetitive knee bending can irritate the nerves surrounding the patella, causing pain. It can also stretch the connective tissues in your knee, which also results in the painful condition known as runner’s knee.

Runner’s knee can cause pain in the affected knee or knees when you sit, stand, walk, kneel, crouch or squat. It can make it difficult to sit comfortably with a bent knee.

3) Pain that Gets Worse When You Walk Down Stairs

The pain of runner’s knee often worsens when you walk down stairs or downhill, because walking down stairs and downhill places more pressure on the injured knee.

4) Popping in the Knee 

Runner’s knee often causes excessive popping in the affected joint. It can also cause a grinding sensation in the joint. These may be signs of damage to cartilage and corrective tissue in the knee, and may mean that you’ll need corrective surgery to treat your runner’s knee.

5) Swelling

Because runner’s knee often occurs as the result of irritation in the nerves, cartilage and connective tissues of the knee, you may experience inflammation and swelling in the injured knee. Treatment for runner’s knee usually involves icing the knee for 20 to 30 minutes every three or four hours; this can eliminate the swelling in the knee in two or three days.


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