Runner's Knee: Anatomy and Symptoms

Runner's Knee

Runner's Knee damage occurs at the connection of the kneecap (patella) and the lower end of the thigh (femur). Injury to this location will often result in patellofemoral pain (around the front of the knee) that may require medical intervention. The degree of injury present can range in severity, resulting in different levels of associated pain and disability. However, common symptoms include:

  • Presence of a consistently dull ache around the kneecap
  • Difficulty walking, climibing, and/or kneeling
  • Difficulty in flexing the knee joint (extending and/or bending)

As these symptoms are also characteristic of other, more complex injury types, Dr. Haar will utilize a comprehensive examination process when seeking to diagnose a case of Runner's Knee.

Causes and Prevention

The development of Runner's Knee has been associated with a number of potential causes, including:

  • Kneecap misalignment
  • Partial or complete knee dislocation
  • Injury or infection
  • Exhaustion / overuse
  • Flat feet

While anyone is at risk of developing Runner's Knee, athletes are especially susceptible, as joint overuse and repetitive stress are both contributing factors. In addition, inadequate stretching either before or after physical activity can increase the likelihood and severity of Runner's Knee symptoms.

To avoid this condition, it is important to emphasize general physical conditioning and health during the pursuit of fitness activities. Overarching body strength and endurance will help prevent undue pressure being placed on the knee, which provides support for total balance and mobility during the majority of full-body movements.

Other recommendations for the avoidance of Runner's Knee include taking a gradual approach to increasing workout or training intensity. In addition, ensuring the use of proper running shoes and stride form are also key to protecting the knee joints.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Dr. Haar will employ a comprehensive approach to the identification and diagnosis of Runner's Knee.

In addition to documenting the patient's medical and symptom histories, the knee will be examined in regard to:

  • General leg alignment
  • Stability
  • Rotation and range of motion
  • Strength
  • Flexation (bending and extending)

Based on response to these basic physical tests, additional insight into connective tissue health may be sought before determining the best treatment approach. Imaging tests, such as an x-ray, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), or CT (computed tomography) scan, may also be employed.

Upon the initial diagnosis of Runner's Knee, Dr. Haar will likely recommend a non-surgical approach to treatment. In addition to employing an exercise program for the development of strength and flexibility, bracing and/or other orthotic solutions (such as shoe inserts) may be suggested for the relief of associated pain and irritation.

If the desired level of relief is not achieved through these non-invasive techniques, surgical intervention may be prescribed. While arthroscopy is often employed for the removal of damaged cartilage, a more comprehensive realignment operation may be needed to reduce detrimental pressure on the kneecap and its supporting structures.

While the risks associated with Runner's Knee treatment are minimal, it is important to adhere to Dr. Haar's recommended recovery regimen, reporting any symptoms of concern to the orthopaedic team immediately.

Meniscus Tear Treatment in NYC

Dr. Haar is nationally recognized for his expertise in the treatment of knee injuries through the use of non-invasive and minimally invasive techniques. To schedule an appointment, contact his New York City office at (212) 876-7000.