A Quick Tip For “Runners Knee

To begin, what is patellofemoral pain syndrome?

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a common cause of anterior knee pain that often occurs while performing sports that involve a lot of running or jumping activities. However, it can also occur when simply walking up/down stairs or squatting (activities that result in increased loads going through the knee).

Alternatively known as “Runners Knee” signs of patellofemoral pain syndrome may include an aching or burning pain in the knee, particularly at the front of the knee, or in, around and under the knee cap (the patella).

The patellofemoral joint is comprised of the patella and the femoral trochlea. That is, the kneecap and the distal end of the femur that has a groove in it specifically for the patella to “track” in (the trochlea groove). This part of the knee is constructed so the patella can run smoothly up and down the trochlea groove while flexing and extending the knee. It is believed that the anterior knee pain occurring during patellofemoral pain syndrome is subsequent to the lateral tracking of the patella in the femoral trochlea.


“Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome can be a result of both malalignment and muscular dysfunction that results in up to 25% of injuries to runners, and is twice as common in women.”


What causes runners knee?


Now there is general consensus that the anterior knee pain is from the lateral tracking of the patella, however the exact aetiology of patellofemoral pain syndrome is considered to be multifaceted, with numerous contributing factors. What we are looking at is, how is the knee tracking and what is causing the potential malalignment.


Why diagnosing the exact causative factor for patellofemoral pain syndrome can be so difficult is due to the various identified risk factors contributing to the condition. There is a multitude of potential causes, and hence the purpose of this article.

Things that lead to patellofemoral pain syndrome, starting from the foot and working our way up include:

All of these things can lead to abnormal tracking of the knee joint and subsequent anterior knee pain in people suffering from patellofemoral pain syndrome.


Why can this cause pain?


“Forces on the knee cap range from between one third to one half of a persons body weight during walking, three times body weight during stair climbing and up to seven times body weight during squatting.”

What are some tips to help alleviate the pain?

Well the number one tip from me to deal with your anterior knee pain is to have it assessed by a health professional. Someone with a solid understanding of the intricacies of the knee and how it functions.

As illustrated earlier, there can be many contributing factors leading to patellofemoral pain syndrome. One of the first things we do after diagnosing the condition is to investigate where the issue is coming from. In some instances the condition may be ascending, starting from poor foot and/or ankle mechanics and working the way up the body. Whereas in other cases the issue may be descending, in which dysfunctional muscles may have lead to altered biomechanics of the lower limb and subsequent injury. Then there are all the other things a professional who deals with these conditions on a daily basis is trained to find.

What treatment is used for runners knee?

Just as there is a variety in causative factors, treatment modalities also vary. Broadly, the evidence for the treatment of anterior knee pain in pattelofemoral pain syndrome strongly supports the implementation of customised treatment programs incorporating (but not limited to):

  • Education
  • Rest
  • Activity modification
  • Taping
  • Orthotic therapy
  • Muscle strengthening
  • Muscle lengthening

The aim of these interventions is to improve the dynamic function and mechanics of the knee. In severe, none-responsive cases in which attempts at rehabilitation have failed, treatment may warrant surgical intervention.

More commonly than not the condition can be resolved through the combination of orthotic therapy to improve structural alignment, a strength and conditioning program addressing any muscular deficits and while in the acute phase, taping techniques to help with alignment and muscle activation.

The condition should not be resolved by being told to stop running! Sure that may be good advice during your short-term treatment plan, but it should not be the advice for a long-term solution.

If you have knee pain and it is holding you back from doing the things you love, have it checked out by the qualified professionals at Bespoke Health and Performance. Our podiatrists deal with these things on a daily basis. 


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Focusing on results and high quality of care, Daniel’s main interest/passion is addressing biomechanical related issues such as the lower back, hip, knee, ankle and foot pain. This is where he makes the biggest difference in people’s lives. Incorporating the latest in evidence-based practice, technology and utilising a broad network of health professionals, Daniel aims to ensure his patients achieve the best possible outcomes.

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