Runner's knee pain can be debilitating, but chiropractic care can help. Despite the name, runner's knee can affect anyone, and it is a common name for any pain that is localized to the area of the knee cap. It is due to repeated stress on the knee joint and can be caused by walking, bicycling, gymnastics, basketball, or those who work in manual labor.
Even if you're not an athlete, if you put continuous stress on your knees through any activity, you may be susceptible to the condition. Chiropractic care can treat runner's knee, alleviating symptoms, and helping heal the condition.
Common Causes of Runner's Knee
While athletes are undoubtedly prone to suffering from runner's knee, there are other risk factors as well. It has been shown that women over the age of 40 and individuals who are overweight are more prone to the condition in comparison to the average population. Runner's knee is a result of repeated impact to the knee joint, which causes a variety of issues. These include:
- Trauma to the area
- Overuse of the knee
- Misalignment in the joint
- Knee dislocation
- Foot conditions that result in extra weight on the knees
- Problems with leg muscles
- Previous breaks and fractures
- Inflammation in the knee joint
Each of these causes can result in friction and wear in the knee joint, and if left untreated can lead to more severe problems such as arthritis further down the road.
Symptoms of Runner's Knee
Runner's knee can come with a variety of symptoms, though the pain is typically localized. In rare instances, it may begin in the back or hips before spreading to the knee. If you suspect that your knees are being exposed to detrimentally high-impact and you experience pain in your back or hips, seek chiropractic care for a consultation. The problem may be in your knee. Common symptoms of runner's knee include:
- Pain when kneeling, sitting with your knees bent, sitting and standing up, going up or downstairs, walking or running, or riding a bicycle
- Pain around or behind the kneecap
- Knees that point inwards or outwards, instead of straight ahead
Treatment for Runner's Knee
If you are seeking treatment for runner's knee, or are experiencing pain in the area, consult with a chiropractor who specializes in sports medicine. A sports chiropractor will be able to assess the condition and the severity of the problem to help you develop a course of treatment. Each person is unique, and the treatment plan for each individual will be as well. There are several common chiropractic approaches to treating runner's knee.
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger point therapy is a type of massage therapy that identifies the most significant point of pain. The areas described as "triggers" are defined as points in the muscle tissue that are constricted and tight, causing pain in either a localized or referred area.
The trigger point may not necessarily be in the knee. A point in your back, shoulder, hip, or neck may have a constricted muscle that is causing the pain in your knee. This type of massage therapy is a targeted approach to addressing just those points. Your chiropractor will rub or apply pressure to that area to help the muscle release, alleviating pain, and tension.
Your chiropractor may recommend the use of Kinesio, or elastic therapeutic tape, to help relieve pain associated with runner's knee. Kinesio tape is a special kind of tape that was specifically developed to treat pain and works by microscopically lifting the skin. This allows for lymphatic fluid to flow more freely through the area, resulting in decreased inflammation, improved circulation, and support for the muscular-skeletal system.
There are many different ways that this tape may be applied. It ranges in length, shape, and direction, and your chiropractor will determine the best application method to address your pain.
Gentle stretching may help with symptoms of runner's knee, especially if it is the result of tightened or constricted muscles. For those who aren't experienced with sports medicine and treatment, physical therapy may be recommended so that a professional can help with the stretching process. Patients must be careful when stretching an area that has been injured, so as not to cause further damage.
If your runner's knee is the result of a bone misalignment, chiropractic adjustments may help the healing process. An adjustment should never be attempted on your own or done by someone who is not a trained chiropractor. Doing so can cause extensive damage to the area that may be impossible to reverse.
Cryotherapy consists of exposing the body to extreme cold for a very short period of time in a special cryogenic chamber. It's often recommended that patients ice their knee when recovering from runner's knee, and cryotherapy is a great way to speed up the process of healing. Patients enter the chamber and stand for two to three minutes maximum, as the temperatures dip as low as -100 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is done using liquid nitrogen, though it will never come in contact with the body. This process is entirely non-invasive and will not cause patients any pain. Cryotherapy helps reduce the swelling, soreness, and inflammation that is associated with runner's knee.
How to Prevent Runner's Knee
Runner's knee is not inevitable, even if you are an avid athlete. There are steps that you can take to protect your body and prevent runner's knee before the condition even forms.
It's been shown that runner's knee can be caused by muscle weakness in other areas of the body. These areas mostly include leg muscles, such as hamstrings, quadriceps, and hips. To keep your legs and knees healthy, it's important to ensure that all of the muscles are working correctly and able to support each other. Try strength training exercises such as leg lifts and presses, bridges, and lunges to promote leg strength.
Stretching for Prevention
While stretching is a form of treatment for runner's knee, proper stretching before a workout can help prevent the condition as well. This can help with the "trigger points" identified earlier, making it less likely for muscles to constrict or tense up, causing pain in the knee.
Before going for a run or participating in any other activity that's going to put stress on your knees, make sure you spend 5-10 minutes stretching out. This helps improve flexibility and range of motion, and your knees will be less likely to have to carry the burden of other muscles in your body. Stretches should typically be held for 30 seconds each.
Pay Attention to Your Body
Staying in-tune with your body is just as important as any exercise you could do to prevent runner's knee. If you start to notice pain, make a note of where that pain is and what you were doing before it occurred. Discuss this with your chiropractor, and remember never to try to "push through the pain." This can cause further damage if your knee is injured.
Use Custom Shoe Inserts
Runner's knee can be caused by preexisting, or biological problems with the feet, such as poor arches or flat foot. If you are an avid runner, or you know that you have a foot condition that can lead to runner's knee, consider getting custom shoe inserts made.
Use these shoe inserts when working out, or when you will be standing or walking for extended periods of time. They will help even out the distribution of weight between your legs, taking pressure off of the knee you are favoring. Custom shoe inserts can help with back pain as well.
Avoid Hard Surfaces
If possible, try to avoid running on hard surfaces, such as concrete. This may be hard if you're used to running outdoors or on a treadmill. Instead, try running on a surface with a little less resistance, such as a dirt path. If you're a sports player, try playing on the grass instead of a hard court. This can be hard to avoid depending on what your sport of choice is, but it can be extremely beneficial in preventing runner's knee.
Seeking Chiropractic Care
You don't have to live with the pain and discomfort of runner's knee. If you are suffering from pain in your knees, legs, back, or any other part of your body, contact us today to schedule an appointment. Your appointment will consist of a thorough examination and a chiropractic assessment. Based on the results, a course of treatment can be developed.