Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain, is one of the top injuries incurred by avid runners. The femur, or thighbone, rests on the patella, or kneecap. This ball-and-socket setup allows the knee to bend and straighten. When a person experiences runner’s knee, the kneecap has not tracked correctly and this in turn causes the socket of the thighbone to become irritated and painful. This injury is not exclusive to runners, but can also occur in people who frequently bend their knees, either for work or during exercise. This injury makes up 42% of all overuse injuries in athletes.
While anyone can get runner’s knee, it is seen more commonly in women than men. The most common time of life when a person experiences runner’s knee is middle age, after the person has spent years overusing the joint and causing irritation. Also, according to the journal Gait and Posture, studies show that as women age, their knees become more misaligned. This can also lead to runner’s knee in middle-aged women.
Anatomy of the Knee
The knee is the joint that connects the thighbone and shinbone and allows the leg to bend. It consists of the following:
The knee works to stabilize the body. The thighbone connects to the top of the kneecap via ligaments that help hold it in place. As the joint gets overused, these ligaments may weaken and cause the kneecap to rub against the thighbone socket, causing friction and pain.
Types of Runner’s Knee
Runner’s knee can be divided into three main types of injury:
Causes of Runner’s knee
While it is difficult to say what specifically causes runner’s knee to occur, there are a few basic known causes:
Symptoms of Runner’s Knee
Different people have different symptoms of runner’s knee. However, in all cases, there is pain in the knee joint that tends to worsen with activity.
The following are common runner’s knee symptoms. Depending on the age and activity level of the person with this condition, these may vary:
Runner’s knee symptoms occur mostly during activity, but can also occur after sitting for a prolonged period of time. The condition can also be associated with other symptoms in this delicate part of the body. For this reason, any person experiencing these symptoms should see a medical professional for help and immediately reduce the number of miles put on the knee.
The multidisciplinary team of orthopaedic experts at North Shore-LIJ Orthopaedic Institute's Trauma Services in New York treats Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain) as well as a broad range of conditions that affect the bones within the body.