Running is certainly a great form of exercise for most people, but injuries are always a possibility considering the wear on a runner’s joints (particularly the knee). Whether you’re an experienced marathoner, or you run for exercise and log fewer miles, knee pain can strike at any time.
Our sports medicine specialists commonly treat the following runner injuries:
Chondromalacia of the patella, or runner’s knee, occurs when a person’s kneecap does not track properly, causing pain and cracking or popping noises. As a result, the cartilage underneath the kneecap becomes inflamed and can eventually soften and deteriorate.
One cause of chondromalacia could be overpronation, which occurs when a person’s foot rolls excessively inward while running, pushing the kneecap to the outside. Orthotic devices could be used to correct abnormal foot mechanics.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Runners often experience outer knee pain caused by iliotibial band syndrome. The iliotibial is a band of tissue that runs from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserts just below the knee. The band helps stabilize the knee and rotate the leg inward from step to step while running, but a tight band can repeatedly rub on the femur and cause pain and swelling.
To avoid this injury, avoid running on sloped surfaces, which can cause the iliotibial band to stretch too tightly over the femur. Stretch your legs daily and before you run to increase flexibility, and decrease your mileage to reduce stress on the band. The iliotibial band can become aggravated if you jump into long distance running too quickly.
Tears to the menisci (cartilage that act as shock absorbers) can cause pain and disability and can result from twisting movements or degeneration of the cartilage, especially among the older population. The R.I.C.E method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) and other conservative treatment methods are effective for treating minor tears, but more severe tears often require surgery. Arthroscopic surgery allows physicians to use a less invasive approach when removing a torn meniscus and repairing the cartilage.
Stress and strain from high-intensity activity can cause inflammation of the patellar tendon, resulting in tendinitis.
Patellar tendinitis is often called “jumper’s knee” because it is common in sports that require jumping and kicking activities, like basketball and soccer. However, runners, too, are susceptible. Pain, stiffness, swelling, and tenderness below the kneecap are all characteristics of patellar tendinitis.
Like other knee injuries, strengthening your leg muscles can help you avoid patellar tendonitis.