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Runner's Knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome or PFPS)

Runner's knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is a common description of a confluence of different problems associated with degradation of the knee joint. Regarded as one of the most common injuries among athletes or runners, the name is simply derived because the typical runner visiting the doctor and complaining of runner's knee. Some of the common symptoms that can identify runner's knee are the pain that you feel in your knee or even at the back of your knee caused due to running.

If you think the cause of your knee pain is more related to the running than to any other causes such as meniscus tears, etc, symptoms to watch for maybe stiffness in your knee. It may feel sore and painful when you sit for longer than normal hours. The pain may also get worse when you walk downstairs or downhill. If your knees make some crunching or clicking sound while you get up or sit down then it is the right time to consult your appropriate physician.

If you still have some suspicion then consider this as another method to identify runner's knee. Sit down on the floor and rest your legs straight and stretched out straight on a chair. Squeeze your leg just above the kneecap pressing it towards the center. Tighten your thigh muscles and if you feel the pain then you "runner's knee" is possible diagnosis.

Some running experts suggest that improper movement of the feet and thighs can cause the kneecap to shift from its original position resulting in knee pain. The kneecaps get rubbed against the sides, which result in pain. The pain may only worsen when you continue walking and running along with your regular training schedule. After a certain period of time when the cushioning of the kneecap wears down you will feel greater pain which again maybe described and defined as runner's knee.

Pain because of the runner's knee maybe caused due to the irritation in the soft joint tissues, which are present around the front portion of the knee and through out the joint. Cases of strained tendon are also quite common amongst athletes. There are some cases in which the patients have been found with misalignment other areas of the knee. Excessive physical activity can cause the wearing of the cartilage present around the kneecap. This results into breaking down of the tendons, ligaments, and bone throughout the knee and lower leg region. The pain can also be the result of enhanced irritation of the joint.

The knee joint is very complex because of the articulation between the tibia and femur (leg and thigh) and the patella (knee cap). The most common knee problems in running relate to what is called the "patellofemoral complex". This consists of the quadriceps, knee cap and patellar tendon. What is now called patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is also known as runner's knee. For many years runner's knee was considered to be chondromalacia of the patella. This essentially means a softening of the cartilage of the knee cap.

Cartilage does not have the same blood supply that bone does. It relies on intermittent compression to squeeze out waste products and then allow nutrients to enter the cartilage from the synovial fluid of the joint. During running certain mechanical conditions may predispose you to a mistracking knee cap. Portions of the cartilage may then be under either too much or too little pressure and the appropriate intermittent compression that is needed for waste removal and nutrition supply may not be present. This may result in cartilage deterioration, which at the knee usually occurs on the medial aspect or inner part of the knee cap. All patello-femoral pain though may not be caused by this mechanism, although uneven stresses across the joint are believed to play an important role in the development of pain in this area.

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