Runner's knee, known as patellofemoral pain syndrome by doctors, is a painful injury that can affect runners. It leads to an aching pain in your kneecap, and this pain can make it hard to for you to go up and down stairs, let alone go for a long run. Here are three treatment options your doctor may recommend.
The RICE Method
If you've experienced sports injuries before, you'll already be familiar with the RICE method, but if not, your doctor can explain it. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation, and these steps aim to reduce the inflammation in an injured area to help it heal more quickly and with less pain.
Sit or lie down and put an ice pack on your sore knee. You may find it more comfortable to use a bag of frozen vegetables (like peas) since they'll conform to your kneecap's shape. The ice should be used for a maximum of 20 minutes to avoid getting frostbite and making your knee feel even worse. Once you're done icing your knee, wrap it in a compression bandage and elevate it. Resting your ankle on a pillow is an easy way to elevate your knee.
New Sports (Temporarily)
As a dedicated runner, you may not want to take any time off of your training plan. However, running is a high-impact sport that puts a lot of stress on your knees. With each step, your knee joint is subjected to repetitive stress, and when you're trying to recover from a knee injury, this isn't helpful.
While you wait for your kneecap to heal, your doctor may recommend switching to new sports that put less strain on your knees. For example, sports like swimming, cycling or even using an elliptical machine at your gym are considered low impact. Sports that rely on your upper body, like rowing, may also be a good option for you while you're resting your knees. Before you start a new sport, ask your doctor if it's safe for your knees.
If your knee doesn't start to improve after using the RICE method and switching to lower-impact sports, your doctor may refer you to a physiotherapy clinic. This is because runner's knee can be caused by problems like weakness in your leg muscles, poor flexibility or poor balance, and a customized exercise plan from a physiotherapist can help you with all of these.
Your physiotherapist may have you do stretches to gain flexibility in your legs, strength training exercises to get stronger, or balancing exercises to help you control your movements.
If your kneecap hurts and it's keeping you from running or doing other daily activities, see your doctor.