Health Library

Health Library

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner's Knee)

What is runner's knee?

Anatomy of the knee joint

Runner's knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a condition characterized by dull pain around the front of the knee (patella), where it connects with the lower end of the thigh bone (femur).

What causes runner's knee?

Runner's knee may be caused by a structural defect, or a certain way of walking or running. Other causes may include:

  • A kneecap that is located too high in the knee joint

  • Weak thigh muscles

  • Tight hamstrings

  • Tight Achilles tendons

  • Poor foot support

  • Walking or running with the feet rolling in while the thigh muscles pull the kneecap outward

  • Excessive training or overuse

  • Injury

What are the symptoms of runner's knee?

The following are the most common symptoms of runner's knee. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain in and around the kneecap that may be felt with activity, or even after prolonged sitting with the knees bent, occasionally resulting in weakness or feelings of instability

  • Rubbing, grinding, or clicking sound of the kneecap that can be heard at times when the knee is bent and straightened

  • Kneecap is tender to the touch

The symptoms of runner's knee may resemble other conditions and medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is runner's knee diagnosed?

Diagnosis of a runner's usually is confirmed with a complete medical history and a physical examination.

What is the treatment for runner's knee?

Specific treatment for runner's knee will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the injury

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, surgeries, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the injury

  • Your opinion or preference

The best course of treatment for runner's knee is to stop running until running can resume without pain. Other treatment may include:

  • Cold packs, compression, and elevation

  • Medications such as ibuprofen

  • Stretching exercises

  • Strengthening exercises

  • Arch support in shoes

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner's Knee) - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Grantham, Paula, RN, BSN
© 2014 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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