Many runners contact our office via email or phone in a panic because they have developed knee pain from running. These may be runners attempting 5K and 10K races, to other runners doing marathon distances and beyond. The distance doesn't necessarily matter because when a runner experiences "runner's knee" he/she is not happy! Most runners love to run and have a plan that they want to follow so interruptions, such as runner's knee, are not a welcomed sight! Other names for runner's knee are patellofemoral pain syndrome or chondromalacia patella.
Definition of runner's knee: The patella, or kneecap, is covered on its back side with the thickest layer of articular cartilage of all the joints in the body. Runner's knee or Chondromalacia patella occurs when this cartilage deteriorates or erodes. The softening or wearing away and cracking of the cartilage under the kneecap, results in pain and degeneration. The cartilage becomes rough and causes the kneecap not to glide smoothly over the knee.
Causes of runner's knee:
Injury and/or overuse: Knee pain from running is one of the most commonly seen overuse injuries. About half of overuse injuries affect the knee joint in some way. Runner's knee is one of the most common overuse injuries that we see among runners, but also among other athletes participating in sports requiring a lot of running, such as soccer, football, lacrosse, or tennis. The patella, or kneecap, is covered on its back side with the thickest layer of articular cartilage of all the joints in the body. Runner's knee or chondromalacia patellae occurs when this cartilage deteriorates or erodes. An abnormal alignment between the patellae and the femur can result, which leads to a clicking or crunching in the joint when it is fully extended. Runner's knee or chondromalacia patella affects one out of every 5,000 people. The good news is that cartilage can be regenerated with Prolotherapy!
Malalignment: If your bones are not tracking completely correctly, then the stress to the knees from running will not be distributed properly. The good news is that tracking problems can be alleviated with Prolotherapy.
Weak thigh muscles or hamstring muscles. Working to strengthen these areas is somewhat helpful, but often Prolotherapy is needed to actually cure the problem.
Old shoes: if a runner has been running without pain, but all of a sudden develops a new knee pain, it's often time to change shoes. Most runners know that the life of a pair of running shoes is typically only about 300 miles.
Foot problem/weak feet or ankles. Pronation, supination, or other foot problems may also contribute to runner's knee. Sometimes correcting the underlying foot/knee problem is what needs to be addressed first.
Symptoms of runner's knee: Runners may experience pain behind or around the patella (knee cap), especially where the thigh and the knee meet; the runner may also experience pain when he/she bends - such as with walking, squatting, kneeling, running, or even sitting; pain going down hill or down stairs is often more painful than flat/upward; runners may experience swelling, popping, and/or grinding as well.
Traditional treatment for runner's knee usually involves RICE - rest, ice, compression and elevation. Standard treatment typically includes leg extensions and stretching exercises to help strengthen the thigh muscle so the patellae, or kneecaps, track better on the femur. Unfortunately, this does nothing to repair the deteriorated cartilage in the patellae and thus, does not alleviate the chronic pain that people with this condition experience. Another common practice is to inject steroids into the knee or to prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as Motrin, Aleve, Advil, and other similar products. In the long run, these treatments do more harm than good. Cortisone shots and anti-inflammatory drugs produce short-term pain relief but long term loss of function and even more chronic pain by actually inhibiting the healing process of soft tissues and accelerating the cartilage degeneration. It doesn't make sense, we know. But that's standard practice. Long term use of these types of drugs can lead to other problems such as leaky guy syndrome and allergies. When all else fails, these runners are referred to orthopedic surgeons. Unfortunately surgery often makes the problem worse. Surgeons will use x-ray technology to remove cartilage tissue and this will most assuredly result in arthritis down the road.
Runners are also often told to stop running or drastically reduce their running miles and avoid running on hills. Runners may need to do this for a short time, but often the runner who sees a Prolotherapy doctor, can get back to running much more quickly that just "waiting for it to heal."
Alternative treatment for Runner's Knee at Caring Medical:
We recommend MEAT - which stands for Movement, Exercise, Analgesia (natural pain medications), and treatment (such as Prolotherapy). Prolotherapy stimulates the body to repair the injury – in this case, the knee cartilage and surrounding knee ligaments. Malalignment problems can also be corrected with Prolotherapy. We also prescribe proper exercise regimes, analyze gait/running style, and also discuss proper nutrition/supplements for maximum healing.
To read more about the actual Prolotherapy procedure, click here.
You may also be interested in a 65-year-old patient who has benefited from Prolotherapy and been relieved from chronic knee pain, click here. Or read about a woman relieved of chronic knee pain as a result of cartilage repair and regeneration.
Proof that Prolotherapy works for runner's knee: Ross and Marion Hauser have published a number of research papers on curing knee pain, like that of runner's knee. In the Journal of Prolotherapy. 2009;1:11-21, in an article entitled,A Retrospective Study on Dextrose Prolotherapy for Unresolved Knee Pain at an Outpatient Charity Clinic in Rural IL, the results of this study showed that patients had a statistically significant decline in their levels of pain, stiffness, crunching sensation, and improvement in their range of motion with Prolotherapy. More than 82% showed improvements in walking ability, medication usage, athletic ability, anxiety, depression, and overall disability with Prolotherapy. Ninety-six percent of patients felt Prolotherapy improved their life overall. Conclusion: In this study, patients with unresolved knee pain, treated with dextrose Prolotherapy, showed improvements in many clinically relevant parameters and overall quality of life.
More research on knee pain treated with Prolotherapy:
Are you a runner who has been side-lined by a knee injury such as runner's knee? MRI, x-ray, CT scan, RICE, and stopping running are NOT viable options - consider Prolotherapy and an evaluation by Prolotherapy doctor Ross Hauser. Give us a call or email us at 708-848-7789 or email@example.com.
Dr. Hauser post Las Vegas Marathon. As an avid athlete, Ironman, and marathoner, Dr. Hauser definitely knows the plight of the injured runner.
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