From tough battles on the basketball court to finishing that 10k last weekend, a lot of stress is placed on our knees. And while they are tough to an extent – bearing the weight of our body, and helping with everyday balance – they’re not impervious to pain. Two syndromes associated with knee pain are Runner’s Knee and Osteoarthritis; understanding the difference between the two will help you adequately assess your mode of treatment.
You don’t have to run track or multiple marathons to experience what is known as “Runner’s Knee”, or patellofemoral pain syndrome. While people who do pound the pavement experience a high frequency of this ailment, the condition accounts for 17% of all doctor’s visits. Overuse – whether as an athlete or weekend warrior – can leave behind a wake of destruction in its path. One surefire sign of overuse is a dull aching while walking upstairs or downstairs, kneeling, or sitting cross-legged.
The body is resilient and adaptive, by design. However, when we push it beyond its limits, or move it in awkward directions – like those misaligned squats you pushed through at the gym – it can cause patellofemoral pain. It’s important to strengthen every part of your body; because when one area hurts, another can consequently suffer an imbalance or weakness. In the case of those squats, perhaps the hips weren’t strong enough to bear the weight. Strengthening the quadriceps and hip abductor muscles though targeted exercises are effective for preventing this condition.
Prior injuries and surgeries can also lead to runner’s knee. So, it’s very important to select a reputable board-certified orthopedic surgeon when going under the knife, and to follow their recommendations on how to recuperate afterwards. This will put you on the path toward being pain-free.
Many people believe they are suffering from runner’s knee, when in reality they are experiencing osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee – a degenerative condition that develops gradually and affects 3 million American each year. A natural shock absorber, the cartilage under our knees protect us from the impact we would otherwise feel. However, gradual wear-and-tear can lead to a breakdown of this cartilage. Unlike runner’s knee, which can occur in people of all ages, osteoarthritis mainly occurs in those over the age of 50. Much like your car has brake pads that wear away after so much use, the cartilage in the knees can wear down after years of weight bearing.
Listen to the ways your body signals you about pain; prolonging stress to the knee can exacerbate the issue in the long run. In fact, researchers at the University of Central Lancashire have found a correlation between runner’s knee and osteoarthritis later in life. 22% of those with joint arthritis in late life can recall experiencing joint pain in their younger years.
Take preventive measures to ensure you don’t experience knee discomfort in the future. One of the easiest ways to ease the pressure on your knee is losing excess weight. Those who carry extra pounds tend to report more pain in this region. Don’t skip the warm-up, stretch, and cool-down; in many cases this 5-10 minutes of your workout regimen is just as important as the “main event”.
If you’re experiencing pain in the knee, make a visit to an orthopedic specialist. Along with your physical therapist, they will be able to properly diagnose your condition – as well as suggest helpful exercises to optimize alignment and technique when participating in sports. Movement Orthopaedics stands by their slogan “Get back to it”, offering a variety of services to alleviate your musculoskeletal pain and get you up and running again. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, call (586) 436-3785.