What is the runner’s knee?
Runner’s knee is a general term that covers several conditions that cause pain at the knee. These conditions include:
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome – generalised pain at the front of the knee that can be caused by many different issues.
- Patellar malalignment – misalignment of the patella (kneecap), usually causing pain.
- Chondromalacia patella – abnormal softening of the cartilage beneath the patella due to improper alignment. This is one of the most common causes of chronic knee pain.
- Iliotibial band syndrome – irritation of the iliotibial band, usually due to overuse of the knees, causing pain at the lateral part of the knee.
There is a lot of overlap between these conditions, as they all present very similarly and similar things cause them. Therefore, they can be managed similarly, hence why they are all under the umbrella title of runner’s knee.
Cause and traditional treatment
Runner’s knee can occur by a number of things such as:
- Trauma to the knee
- Misalignment of the knee joint
- Overuse of the knee
- Flat feet
- Repetitive stresses from activities such as running, walking, biking, jumping, or sports like football.
It tends to be more common in women than men and is more common in middle age. People who are overweight are more prone to runner’s knee as the extra weight places extra stress on the knee joints.
With runner’s knee pain appears around or behind the patella. Pain is also usually worse by activities such as walking, climbing up or downstairs, squatting, kneeling, running, sitting down, or standing up. The knee can also sometimes pop or grind and can swell in some cases. The normal treatment for a runner’s knee includes rest, ice, compression, and anti-inflammatory pain killers. Medical professionals often recommend physical therapy and exercises, and in serious cases, surgery.
How can chiropractic help with a runner’s knee?
A large cause of the runner’s knee is a misalignment of the knee joint, causing extra stress to be placed on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage in and around the knee. This results in inflammation and pain. Chiropractors can adjust extremities and have a lot of knowledge around how the knee works. They know how best to adjust it, to keep it strong and stable so that it does not get worse during movement. This helps in preventing the runner’s knee from happening or helping it recover if it does happen. Not only does adjusting the knee help prevent and treat runner’s knee, but chiropractors can also adjust the pelvis and the ankle. Runner’s knee doesn’t always have to occur due to dysfunction at the knee. Our bodies are one big system so if there is dysfunction above or below the knee, this too can place extra stress. On the muscle, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage in and around the knee, causing the inflammation to happen.
By making sure everything in the leg is aligned, strong, and stable, this allows the knee to be able to do it’s job without excess stress being placed on it. This can prevent not only runner’s knee from happening but other conditions of the knee, ankle, and pelvis, as there is no excess stress in the system, and allows for fast, efficient healing if these conditions ever do come about. As chiropractors are knowledgeable about all parts of the body and how they can work at their best, chiropractors can give lifestyle advice, stretches, and exercises to increase strength and stability in the knee to prevent injuries, or to help them recover if they do occur6.
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