How to tell if you’ve got runner’s knee

On Tuesday, the first part of our Runner’s Knee series explained what runner’s knee actually is.

Like many running injuries though, it’s hard to know if that’s what you’ve got. It’s important to see your doctor to rule out something more serious.

Here is some information about how to tell if your knee pain is caused by runner’s knee.

(Runner’s Knee Part 2) How do I know if I’ve got Runner’s Knee?

Well, for starters, you don’t have to be a runner. Athletes in all sports could develop runner’s knee.

Generally, if you have pain in or around the kneecap, you could have runner’s knee. Whether it’s in just one knee or both, the pain can vary from person to person from a dull ache to a sharp or burning pain. The pain may intensify on inclines or declines; usually downhills are more painful for runners with runner’s knee. In some cases, the knee may pop or “give out,” often without warning.

You may also notice symptoms when you’re not running. Pain in the knee when you are kneeling, squatting or sitting for long periods of time could be runner’s knee as well. Dr. Anita Rao of Kaiser Permanente says, “If your knee hurts after a long car ride or sitting in a movie theatre that may be a symptom of runner’s knee.”

If these symptoms sound familiar, you should visit your doctor. Whether it’s due to improper shoes, a compensation injury, or an overuse injury, it’s likely that your doctor will be able to diagnose this injury through learning your medical history and a simple physical examination. Sometimes, a doctor will use an x-ray to rule out other possible diagnoses or to find out if there is improper alignment of the kneecap or damaged cartilage.

A physical therapist may see you after your primary doctor. They’ll ask you all sorts of questions: how long you’ve had symptoms, where the pain is, your physical activities (if running is new to them or they are training for a race), if you stretch, what type of shoes you wear, what surfaces you train on, what positions or movements make you pain worse and what doesn’t bother you, what treatments you have already tried, what your occupation is (in case it could be contributing), their pain rating, and to look at the wear pattern of your running shoes.

Sometimes, the only way to officially diagnose runner’s knee is to see if therapy has an impact on your pain levels. So it’s very important that you’re honest with your therapist about your adherence to the stretching and strengthening plan they’ve provided.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at some of the treatments for runner’s knee.

Part 1: What is Runner’s Knee
Part 3: How is Runner’s Knee treated?
Part 4: How can I prevent getting Runner’s Knee?
Part 5: Can you “cure” Runner’s Knee?

About Author

We started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. We also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support local race organizers.

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