Runner’s knee is an extremely common condition that, oddly enough, doesn’t always stem from running. While many runners are familiar with the condition and its commonalities, the condition is medically referred to as patellofemoral pain syndrome. It is simply an aggravation of the knee, but running is one of the most well-established triggers of the condition.
In order to fully understand, overcome, and prevent further instances of runner’s knee, one must first understand a few facts about the human knee.
The Purpose of the Knee
The knee is a crucial part of the body responsible for absorbing shock, protecting the joint between the calves and thighs, protecting the nerve running through the legs at its most vulnerable point, and supporting blood flow while the legs are in motion. When the knee is damaged or injured, the body’s natural response is to fire its pain signals at a rapid rate to let us know that there’s an issue with what we’re doing. The knee is far too important for our health and livelihood to ignore, which is exactly why our body communicates painful sensations to us when it is at risk.
Identifying the True Problem
The biggest issue in diagnosing a problem in the knee is that the knee supports a massive percentage of our weight from a variety of angles, so it is highly susceptible to damage from a variety of different sources. It can feel impossible to understand the issue when multiple factors are to blame for the pain.
For example, while some runners may believe that they need to improve the way they are running, they might simply be spending too much time at their desk with their knees at an uncomfortable angle. However, a person might simply be shifting their weight too far to the left or right while standing, causing a host of compound, posture-related injuries that take their toll over time. The absolute biggest problem associated with runner’s knee isn’t the pain itself, it is diagnosing the true underlying, compound sources of the pain. Long-term damage can typically be prevented very easily with a few adjustments, but without those adjustments, damage can become permanent.
Treatment and Recovery
The easiest way to get help with a painful knee is to speak with an orthopedic professional. Many patients believe that they can diagnose and fix the problem themselves, but if they do not fully identify the root cause or causes of the issue, they will merely delay the inevitable relapse of pain. At that point, treatment becomes much more difficult due to the effects of aging and repeated strain. Because runner’s knee is a common condition, professional orthopedic surgeons are quite experienced at figuring out the factors that are causing the pain and ensuring that the knee is not damaged any further. Orthopedic surgeons can save years of pain and confusion, and their value in fixing this problem quickly and effectively cannot be understated.
Some of the most common treatments for runner’s knee are as simple as resting the knee in certain positions, using support braces, eliminating specific activities, or visiting a massage therapist. Unfortunately, surgery is sometimes required to fix these issues, but physical therapy is a choice if the damage has not yet reached the point of invasive options. In any case, getting a professional opinion is the absolute safest and most reliable course of action, as a risk to the knee is a risk to our mobility, health, fitness, and lifestyle.