Patellofemoral pain syndrome, commonly referred to as runner’s knee, is a broad term used to describe a common ailment that causes pain in the area surrounding the kneecap in one or both knees. This condition is common among runners; however, participation in repetitive activities that strain and stress the knee structure, including biking and jumping, increases one’s risk of developing this condition.
The exact cause of runner’s knee is unknown. It is believed that this condition can develop as a result of overuse and trauma, torn cartilage, flat feet, inadequate and improper stretching, arthritis, structural defects (the kneecap being located too high in the knee joint), poor foot support, weak thigh muscles, and/or tight hamstrings. The most common symptom of runner’s knee is a dull, aching pain that occurs around or behind the kneecap. The pain is most noticeable when walking, ascending or descending stairs, or after long periods of sitting. There may also be pain when running, kneeling, and standing up or sitting down. Swelling or popping sensations may also be present in the knee.
Runner’s knee is diagnosed through a physical examination. An MRI, X-ray, CT scan and blood test may also be used to confirm diagnosis. Treatment options for runner’s knee include rest, ice, compression, elevation, stretching and strengthening exercises, arch supports and custom orthotics, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and knee sleeves. Surgery may be required in severe cases to correct the damage.