hempstead valley therapy centre

Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)

Runner’s knee is a term used to describe pain experienced around the front or behind the kneecap. The term encompasses a range of pathologies but as the name suggests, it is most common in those who place repeated stress on the knee, such as runners. Other activities that can cause such pain are cycling, jumping, walking and football.

Relevant Anatomy: 

The knee is a hinge joint made from the thigh bone, shinbone, and knee cap. It is stabilised by 4 strong ligaments and cushioned by cartilage and meniscus that sits in-between the bones.

The kneecap plays a vital role in the bending and straightening of the knee and partakes in a ‘pully’ mechanism alongside the quadriceps (thigh muscles) to do so. During such movement, the kneecap glides within a grove at the base of the thigh bone called the trochlear groove.

In patella-femoral pain syndrome/runners this, it is often this movement that is considered stressful causing pain and symptoms.

HTC Blog - kneecap diagram (1)

Symptoms of Runner’s Knee:

  • Pain at the front of the knee
  • Pain during squatting
  • Pain during running
  • Climbing or descending stairs
  • Pain when kneeling
  • Popping, clicking or grinding of the knee
  • Pain when standing up or sitting down

Potential causes of Runner’s Knee:

  • Overuse of the knee or over completing a certain exercise or movement
  • Weakness or malalignment of the lower limbs
  • Flat feet
  • Poor footwear
  • Tight muscles
  • Mal-tracking of the knee cap
  • As a secondary symptom to other issues e.g.:
    • Arthritis
      • Narrowing of joint space between the thigh and shin bone +/- loss of cartilage
    • Plica syndrome
      • Irritation of the thin fold of tissue that lines the inside of your knee joint
    • Chondromalacia patella
      • Softening of the cartilage behind the knee cap
    • Patella bursitis
      • Inflammation of one of the bursae surround the knee cap (see picture)
    • Hoffa’s fad pad syndrome
      • Irritation or trauma to the fat pad underneath the knee
    • Patella tendinitis / tendinopathy
      • Aggravation of the tendon attaching to the knee cap
    • Meniscal or ligament injury
      • Damage to the stabilising structures to the knee, normally occurring via trauma or repeated force applications.


How to treat Runner’s Knee: 

It is advised that you should seek professional opinion to officially diagnose Patella Femoral Pain and to avoid misdiagnosis. Each treatment will be individually tailored and specialised to every individual and will focus on their specific cause for the onset of the pain and symptoms.

Some generalised treatment ideas can be seen below:

HTC Blog - Runner's knee - treatment

Are you suffering with knee pain? Worried about running or maintaining your activity levels? …. Visit a qualified & highly skilled therapist for a thorough knee assessment and rehab programme at Hempstead Therapy Centre!