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Runners Knee

What is Runner’s Knee?

Runners Knee

Common in runners, this condition occurs when the knee cap (patella) is pulled sideways and rubs against the thigh bone (femur) causing pain and inflammation. Runner’s knee is also referred to as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). One knee or both may be affected. Other sports besides running as well as day-to-day activities can exacerbate this condition.

Causes of Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee can be caused by a number of biomechanical reasons:

  • Flat feet-Pronation causes the patella to pull inward.
  • Being a female- Hips are wider causing more strain on the patella.
  • Muscle imbalance-Weaker muscles in the front of you leg (quadriceps) and tighter muscles in the back of your leg (hamstrings) cause abnormal tension on the patella.
  • Knees that turn in (genu valgum)- Also causes the patella to pull inward.
  • Patella shape and position-If the patella is larger on the outside or is positioned high in the patellar groove, there can be increased strain on the patella.


Stretching, gradually increasing running, and cross training are important factors in preventing runner’s knee. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) should be first line treatments. Avoid aggravating factors such as going up hill if possible. Choosing shoes that are appropriate for your foot type are important. Custom orthotics combined with a supportive running shoes are very effective in treating runner’s knee that is due to flat feet or over pronation.

An orthopedic surgeon should examine you if you have ongoing knee pain to ensure that another more serious condition is not present. If you have been diagnosed with runner’s knee, we would recommend that you schedule an evaluation with us also. The physicians at Ankle and Foot Clinics Northwest will perform a detailed biomechanical lower extremity exam, assess your gait, and evaluate your athletic shoes. We are able to provide shoe recommendations and when appropriate we can provide custom foot orthotics that will improve your biomechanics and help to keep you running.

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