Repeated bending of the knee while running can cause repetitive use sports injuries. “Runner’s knee” is actually one of a few pain conditions that impact the kneecap or connective tissues around the knee. If you are a runner who is being held back by reoccurring knee pain, you may be suffering from iliotibial band syndrome or chondromalacia patellae. If runner’s knee is keeping you from reaching your stride, here is what you need to know about these two conditions.
Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome
The iliotibial (IT) band runs from the hip bone to the shin bone on the outside of the leg. This band of fascia tissue is instrumental in rotating, extending and abducting your hip, while supporting your upper leg and knee. When the knee bends, the IT band moves over the outside of the knee. Repetitive bending can cause irritation of the tissue, causing it to become tight and inflamed. IT band syndrome can cause knee pain or runner’s knee, with pain on the outside of knee when bending or running.
If you are diagnosed with IT band syndrome, conservative treatments with ice, rest, wrapping and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can help relieve the pain. Strengthening the supporting muscles and using stretching exercises can prevent further injury. For severe or ongoing IT band syndrome, treatment with physical therapy or steroid injections may be recommended.
Another type of “runner’s knee” is chondromalacia patellae which is a deterioration of the patella or kneecap. When the cartilage under the kneecap is worn away from repetitive use, it can cause friction when the patella slides over the leg bones when bending the knee while running. This can cause inflammation and pain in the knee, and there may be a sensation of grinding or crackling when bending the knee. Chondromalacia patellae is often caused by misalignment when running, allowing the kneecap to move incorrectly over the thigh bone and deteriorate the cartilage.
Treating chondromalacia patellae begins with conservative options like rest, NSAIDs and ice to relieve inflammation and pain. If the condition is more severe, physical therapy, steroid injections or regenerative medicine may be recommended to aid in healing the tissues in the knee.
At Caliber Pain™, we offer effective treatment for sports injuries including the various types of runner’s knee. Contact our clinic in Midtown Manhattan to schedule an exam if you have ongoing knee pain. We offer interventional treatments and regenerative medicine to help you get back to your training routine.