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Knee Pain Health Center

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Runner’s Knee

What's the Treatment for Runner's Knee?

Regardless of the cause, the good news is that minor to moderate cases of runner's knee should resolve on their own given time and treatments that address any underlying causes. To speed the recovery you can:

  • Rest the knee. As much as possible, try to avoid putting weight on your knee.
  • Ice your knee to reduce pain and swelling. Do it for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days, or until the pain is gone.
  • Compress your knee. Use an elastic bandage, patellar straps, or sleeves to give your knee extra support.
  • Elevate your knee on a pillow when you're sitting or lying down.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Advil, Aleve, or Motrin, will help with pain and swelling. However, these drugs can have side effects, like an increased risk of bleeding and ulcers. They should be used only occasionally, unless your doctor specifically says otherwise.
  • Practice stretching and strengthening exercises, especially for the quadriceps muscle group. Ask your doctor to recommend a physical therapist for guidance.
  • Try arch supports or orthotics for your shoes. Orthotics -- which can be custom-made or bought off the shelf -- may help with foot position.

Severe cases of runner's knee may need surgery. An orthopedic surgeon can address cartilage conditions and, in extreme cases, correct the position of the kneecap so that stress will be distributed evenly.

When Will My Knee Feel Better?

There's no good answer to when your knee will feel better. Recovery time depends on your particular case. Keep in mind that people heal at different rates.

While you get better, try out a new activity that won't aggravate your runner's knee. For instance, if you're a jogger, do laps in the pool instead.

Whatever you do, don't rush things. Don't return to your old level of physical activity until:

  • You can fully bend and straighten your knee without pain.
  • You feel no pain in your knee when you walk, jog, sprint, or jump.
  • Your knee is as strong as your uninjured knee.

If you start using your knee before it's healed, you could wind up with permanent damage.

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