One of the most important thing long distance runners can do to ensure they keep running is take care of their knees. But that’s easier said than done. Because of the constant foot to ground impact during long distance runs, most athletes will experience a knee injury at some point in their career. Here is all the information you need to know about the three most common:
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)
Related anatomy. The knee joint is made up of three bones: the femur, tibia, and patella. These bones are connected to one another by strong soft tissues called ligaments and tendons. Runner’s knee is said to occur when the ligaments and/or tendons that attach to the patella become irritated, aggravated, and/or inflamed.
Causes. There are two main causes of runner’s knee. The first, and most obvious, is overuse. The second is a patellar misalignment.
Symptoms and treatments. A dull, aching pain is associated with runner’s knee. This pain may limit or sideline athletes but is usually easily treatable. Conservative treatment options, such as rest, ice, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, decrease inflammation and help injured athletes quickly recover. Physical therapy and other active exercises focused on developing strength is also very helpful in treating this painful condition.
Prevention. Once runner’s knee has been effectively treated, injury prevention measures should be taken. Athletes should avoid increasing the intensity or duration of their workouts too quickly, and wear a knee brace if necessary.
Related anatomy. The meniscus sits between the femur and tibia and acts as a “shock absorber”—cushioning the bones during impact while walking and running.
Causes. Meniscus tears are caused by sudden twisting and turning movements while running. In many cases, a runner who sustains a meniscus tear had weak or damaged cartilage prior to the injury.
Symptoms. The first presenting symptom is a “pop” heard when the meniscus is torn. Other symptoms that can quickly follow are pain, stiffness, swelling, catching, and locking. Additionally, injured athletes often state that they feel their knee is going to “give out”.
Treatments. Non-conservative treatment options, such as rest, ice, medications, and physical therapy, are always tried first.
When they aren’t effective, surgical intervention might be necessary, where potentially the meniscus is repaired, or removed based on location and severity of the injury.
Related anatomy, causes, symptoms. When the muscles that attach to the inner portion of the tibia are overused, they become inflamed and cause mild to severe pain in a condition known as shin splints.
Treatments. Treating mild to moderate shin splints is relatively easy—rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications help injured athletes return quickly, if not immediately. Treating severe shin splints can be a bit more difficult. Often, immobilization in a walking boot is necessary. Downtime can be anywhere between a few days to weeks.
If you’ve injured your knee and it’s limiting your running, please contact our office to arrange an appointment with one of our Orthopedic or Sports Medicine Specialists. After an accurate diagnosis has been made, a personal treatment plan will be prescribed. You can expect to be back running very soon when under the care of our specialists.