Sore Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)
It’s not just for runners. Anyone who spends time doing things that make you bend your knees a lot, like walking, biking, and jumping, can get an aching pain around the kneecap. It’s a broad term that describes the pain you feel if you have one of several knee problems. For example, chondromalacia patella, a condition in which the cartilage under the kneecap breaks down, can lead to runner’s knee symptoms.
Can happen for several reasons:
- Overuse. If you do a lot of repeated bending or high-stress exercises, such as lunges or plyometric, they can irritate your knee joint.
- A direct hit to the knee, like from a fall or blow.
- Problems with your feet, fallen arches (flat feet), or over pronation. They may change the way you walk, which can cause knee pain.
- Weak or unbalanced thigh muscles. The quadriceps muscles in the front of your thigh keep your kneecap in place when you bend or stretch the joint. If they’re weak or tight, your kneecap may not stay in the right spot.
What Are the Symptoms?
The main symptom you’ll notice is pain. It can happen:
- In front, behind, or around your kneecap
- When you bend your knee, such as when you walk, squat, kneel, run, or even get up from a chair
- When you walk downstairs or downhill
You might also notice swelling around your knee or a popping or grinding feeling inside the joint.
What’s the Treatment?
For most people, the knee gets better on its own with time and treatments that address the knee problem that’s causing your pain. To speed your recovery, you can:
- Ice your knee to ease pain and swelling. Do it for 20-30 minutes for 2-3 days, or until the pain is gone.
- Wrap your knee. Use an elastic bandage, patellar straps, or sleeves to give it extra support.
- Elevate your leg on a pillow when you’re sitting or lying down.
- Take NSAIDs, like ibuprofen or naproxen. These drugs fight inflammation and help with pain and swelling.
- Do stretching and strengthening exercises, especially for your quadriceps muscles.
- Try arch supports or orthotics for your shoes. They may help with the position of your feet.
When Will My Knee Feel Better?
Whatever you do, don’t rush things. Don’t return to your old level of physical activity until:
- You can fully bend and straighten your knee without pain.
- You feel no pain in your knee when you walk, jog, sprint, or jump.
- Your knee is as strong as your uninjured knee.
How Can I Prevent:
- Keep your thigh muscles strong and limber with regular exercise.
- Use shoe inserts if you have problems that may lead to runner’s knee.
- Make sure your shoes have enough support.
- Avoid running on hard surfaces like concrete.
- Never suddenly make your workouts more intense, especially with squats and lunges. Make changes slowly.
- Wear quality running shoes and swap them for new ones once they lose their shape or the sole gets worn.