Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)

Runner’s knee (also known by the medical term patellofemoral pain syndrome) is a dull pain at the front of the knee. It occurs where the patella (kneecap) meets the femur (thighbone). It is often caused when the patella cartilage is stressed by overuse or poor alignment. In some cases, the pain may be due to degeneration of cartilage inside the knee joint.

Runner’s knee is a common complaint among runners, jumpers, and other athletes such as skiers, cyclists, and soccer players. People who are at risk also include manual laborers, those who are overweight, and people who have had an injury, fracture, or dislocation related to the kneecap.

Runner’s Knee Treatment

Runner’s knee can usually be treated without surgery. The best way to start is to avoid activities such as running and jumping, which causes pain. Non-surgical treatment includes the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Other treatments or self-care include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain
  • Exercises to improve the flexibility and strength of thigh muscles and stretch the lower extremities
  • Orthotic shoe inserts and support devices

You can help prevent runner’s knee by losing weight if needed, stretching before running, increasing your activities gradually, wearing the right running shoes, and running leaning forward with your knees bent.