If you’ve determined that you do, in fact, have runner’s knee, there are some things you can do to help reduce the causes for pain.
Because the problem is often caused by maltracking of the patella (your kneecap is out of whack, in other words), treatment addresses both correcting the maltracking and reducing any swelling or inflammation.
How is Runner’s Knee treated?
Usually, runner’s knee can be treated without surgery. Ice and an anti-inflammatory medication may do the trick, or you may have to cut back on your running (or walking) for a while. As always, if your doctor tells you to cut back … CUT BACK! You won’t be able to start improving unless you give your body the time it needs to heal.
For me, physical therapy did the trick. The secret to having success with PT is doing what your therapist tells you! They can help you improve or even out strength in your leg muscles, increase flexibility; which can improve your running beyond your non-injury running abilities.
The exercises that Bhavana Reddy of Kaiser Permanente had me do really seemed to help, even though they were very simple. In one, I laid flat on my back, turned my foot out to about a 45-degree angle to isolate a specific muscle, and then lifted that leg up about 6-10 inches. Easy, right? But because that muscle was weaker than my other leg muscles, it was actually pretty hard! Some of the other ones she had me do included leg lifts (like were so popular in the Jane Fonda workout videos!), and one where I had to squeeze a pillow between my knees.
Even though only my left knee hurt, she had me do the exercises with both legs, because frequently, an injury in one leg is likely to occur in the other leg if the cause isn’t addressed.
You may also have to have your gait and footwear analyzed. Worn shoes often are a contributor to knee pain – it’s how some runners determine that it’s time for new shoes – so you may be advised to invest in orthotics. If you have recently noticed knee pain and haven’t replaced your shoes lately, visit a local running specialty store where employees have received training in fitting runners with proper shoes.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at things you can do to prevent runner’s knee.
Part 1: What is Runner’s Knee?
Part 2: How do I know if I have Runner’s Knee?
Part 4: How can I prevent getting Runner’s Knee?
Part 5: Can you “cure” Runner’s Knee?