Knee problems are common for runners and other athletes, whether those problems be from running injuries, arthritis, or something else. Whatever the cause, knee discomfort and pain can stop people from doing what they love.
Don’t let that discomfort stop you from enjoying your hobbies and daily activities. Keep reading to learn more about common causes of knee pain along with ways to treat it.
Common Causes of Knee Pain
Common knee injuries and conditions that cause discomfort around the knee joints include the following medical conditions.
- ACL tear – The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia) at the knee. Tears of this ligament are known as ACL tears.
- Bursitis – A bursa is a fluid-filled sac or cavity that cushions joints. When these sacs become inflamed, it is known as bursitis.
- Chondromalacia – Chondromalacia patella occurs when there is damage to the cartilage under the kneecap (patella), resulting in painful friction between the patella and femur.
- Iliotibial band syndrome (IT band syndrome, ITBS) – The IT band is a connective tissue along the outside of the leg. Sometimes the band tightens or becomes irritated and inflamed, resulting in ITBS.]
- Jumper’s knee (patellar tendinitis) – The patellar tendon is a ligament that helps connect the tibia to the patella. Injury and inflammation of the patellar tendon is known as patellar tendinitis, or Jumper’s knee.
- Meniscus tear – A meniscus tear is a tear of the meniscus. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that helps cushion the tibia and femur.
- Osteoarthritis (OA) – Arthritis is a common condition where joints become inflamed. OA is the most common type of arthritis, and it occurs from regular wear and tear over time, which is why it is most common in seniors.
- Runner’s knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome, anterior knee pain syndrome) – A common overuse injury, this condition occurs when cartilage underneath the patella becomes inflamed or otherwise damaged.
Ways to Avoid Knee Discomfort While Running
Pain while running is no joke. Fortunately, there are several ways to tackle this problem, including the following options.
- Attending physical therapy. A physical therapist is an expert that can help you determine just what is causing your knee pain. After determining the root cause, a physical therapist can help you determine the best course of treatment, which may include guided exercises to help your knee joints regain their full range of motion.
- Performing strength-training exercises. The body works together; that means that when one area is weaker than it should be, another part of the body has to pick up the slack. When surrounding muscles are weak, the knee joint has to take the added pressure. This extra force can result in discomfort, pain, and even injury to the knees. Strengthening exercises can help correct these muscle imbalances, specifically ones that focus on the quadriceps (quads) and hamstrings.
- Running on forgiving surfaces. Be kind to your knees and run, jog, or walk on softer surfaces like tracks or grass. It will ultimately place less undue stress on your joints.
- Stretching, warming up, and cooling down. Proper warm ups, cool downs, and stretches can go a long way to reducing current pain and reducing the odds of injury. To be effective, it’s important to always properly warm up and cool down with every exercise session.
- Taking NSAIDs. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications are a common go-to method for fighting discomfort, especially if that discomfort is due to inflammation. Popular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve).
- Trying low-impact exercises. High-impact activities are not for everyone, especially those with knee injuries. Instead, swimming and low-intensity biking are oftentimes great ways to exercise the knee joints without causing further harm. That said, anyone with knee pain should still clear these exercises with their physician first or contact us here at Kneecare Clinics.
- Using RICE. In sports medicine, the RICE method helps reduce pain and inflammation while promoting healing for recent injuries. RICE stands for “Rest Ice Compress Elevate.” In other words, someone needs to rest their injury, then ice, compress, and elevate it.
- Wearing a knee brace. Some people have reduced discomfort when wearing a knee brace. The idea is that the brace helps move pressure and weight away from the knee.
Wearing proper footwear. Running shoes with shock absorption can make a world of difference for people who enjoy runs and walks alike. Specifically, these shoes may help cushion joints during physical activity.
Treatments We Offer
We offer treatment options for the following medical conditions:
Treatments we offer include the following options:
- Knee braces
- Injections, including viscosupplementation, steroid, trigger point, and platelet-rich plasma injections
- Physical therapy
- Diet and weight counseling
Frequently Asked Questions
What is causing knee pain from running?
There are plenty of reasons why someone may feel knee pain while running. A physician will run tests, such as an x-ray or MRI, to determine the exact cause of someone’s discomfort. After diagnosis, the physician can help the patient decide the best course of treatment.
Is it common for runners to have knee pain?
Unfortunately, knee pain is incredibly common among runners, especially those with improper form, who constantly run on pavement, or who continue to run on an unhealed injury. Runners experiencing knee pain should talk with their physician or call Kneecare Clinics to determine the exact cause of their pain, so that they can craft an effective treatment plan.
How do I protect my knees when running?
Common ways to protect the knees when running include:
- Not running on new or healing injuries
- Running on forgiving surfaces
- Giving the body ample time to rest between runs
- Performing strengthening exercises
- Wearing proper footwear
How do you strengthen your knees for running?
Strengthening muscle groups around the knees, such as the thigh muscles, may help reduce pain as these muscles can take pressure off the knee joints. Exercises to discuss with a physician or those of us here at Kneecare Clinics include the following:
- Calf raises
- Hamstring stretches
- Leg raises
Get Started at Kneecare Clinics
Kneecare Clinics can help you get back to doing what you love by helping you fight pain and discomfort. Contact us now or speak to our patient advocate to get started.
Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal or medical advice.