runner’s knee pain

Did summer running season wear you down? How to cope with runner’s knee pain.

What is Runner’s Knee Pain?

Runner’s knee pain can encompass a wide range of aching pain around the kneecap that impacts runners and non-runners alike. Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, often presents as discomfort that is experienced when bending down, walking downhill or descending stairs.

The pain from runner’s knee may be an indication of bone misalignment or a muscular deficiency; however, it is frequently the result of repetitive movements, high-impact training or blows to the knee. Common symptoms of runner’s knee include swelling around the kneecap and a corresponding clicking, popping or grinding sensation that occurs during movement.

Recovering from Runner’s Knee

Given the connection between runner’s knee pain and overuse or repetitive motion, “RICE” (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is typically the first line treatment. Wrapping the knee for support coupled with the use of NSAIDs like Advil are effective to aid short-term relief of pain or inflammation. In all scenarios, activity should be limited until the condition subsides.

How long it takes for the pain to subside varies by body type and degree of injury. It’s important to not rush back into your running shoes before you are fully healed. Signs of recovery include the ability to fully extend and bend the knee without pain and being able to successfully walk, run or jump without a pain sensation. Your injured knee should be able to demonstrate that it feels and performs like your non-injured knee.

Whatever you do, don’t rush the run. If you try to get back to impact workouts before you’re healed, you could damage the joint for good. Instead, try mixing up your routine with swimming or yoga – just stick to movements that don’t put force or repeated range of motion on the knee.

And when you do ease back into your running routine, be mindful of power movements or actions that require significant range of motion such as lunges.

If you’ve tried the RICE regimen and your pain persists, seek an orthopedic evaluation to ensure things don’t get worse. Your orthopedic specialist will assess your condition to determine if you need medical care such as physical therapy as it can be a successful aid to recovery.

Preventing Runner’s Knee

No one likes being on the sidelines, and there are preventative measures that you can take to reduce your chances of experiencing runner’s knee. Effective prevention tools include the right equipment, the right preparation and the right routine.

Your feet power your stride and overall mobility. Treat them with the care they deserve. Proper fitting shoes with strong support provide a vital foundation for your body whether on the road, the trail or even in the grocery store. Too often, however, we choose fashion over function or ignore the signs of wear and tear.

After a season of running in the Colorado sun, watch for uneven shoe wear. Worn soles can place significant strain on your legs and joints that lead to conditions such as runner’s knee. Don’t wait until Christmas to replace those worn treads; the gift of proper support is a year-round treat all feet should enjoy.

Depending on your pain and level of activity, you may also want to consider orthotics which help address many conditions by providing support for those with high arches or redistributing the energy caused by your foot’s natural pronation.

Once you have the right equipment, the right preparation powers peak performance. Maintaining a healthy weight to help minimize the strain on your body can be a challenging cycle for many but excess body weight has a direct impact on joint performance.

All bodies benefit from a regimen of proper warm up and stretching. Help your joints perform better by fostering flexibility and an adequate warm up prior to putting yourself through the paces.

Strength training builds muscle stability and is also an effective course of preventative action. In addition to the benefits of cross-training, muscle development reduces the strain on your body’s joints and bones.

A well-rounded approach to preparation and full-body training offers maximum protection from overuse conditions. It doesn’t mean that you must be any less intense of a runner. Cross training options can actually help you become a stronger runner while leaving some signs of overuse – such as runner’s knee – behind.

Feeling pain today? Schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic knee specialists to find the right solution for you.

Best Knee Surgeons

Dr. Mark Failinger

James Ferrari, MD

Dr. James Ferrari

Wayne Gersoff, MD

Dr. Wayne Gersoff

dr harold hunt denver co

Dr. Harold Hunt

Jared Michalson, MD

Dr. Jared Michalson

Cary Motz, MD

Dr. Cary Motz

H. Andrew Motz, MD

Dr. H. Andrew Motz

Dr. Justin Newman

John Papilion, MD

Dr. John Papilion

Scott Resig, MD

Dr. Scott Resig

R. Presley Swann, MD

Dr. R. Presley Swann

numbness in hands

What to do if you experience numbness in hands or numbness in fingers.

Numbness in hands or fingers is a symptom that can be serious and should not be ignored. As with all health emergencies, call 911 or get emergency medical help if hand or finger numbness starts suddenly – especially if it occurs with weakness or inability to move, dizziness, or a sudden, severe headache.

Aside from emergencies, while numbness in your fingers or hands could be caused by several factors – including conditions like diabetes and various auto-immune diseases – it is frequently caused by some kind of nerve compression in your arm or wrist. A visit to your orthopedic hand and upper extremity specialist can evaluate for nerve-related causes, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and/or cubital tunnel syndrome.

What is cubital tunnel syndrome and how does it cause numbness in hands?

The ulnar nerve is one of three major nerves in your arm, and runs from the outside edge of your hand all the way up to your neck. Compression of this nerve occurs most frequently on the inside of the elbow, causing tingling and numbness in hands and fingers – specifically the pinkie and ring fingers. Your orthopedic hand specialist will work with you to relieve the symptoms using conservative treatments such as using a brace or adjusting the frequency and nature of daily activities. If these changes do not help, or if you have significant nerve or muscle damage, you may need to look at surgery.

Numbness in hands and fingers: How is carpal tunnel syndrome different?

While carpal tunnel may also present with numbness in hands or tingling in fingers, carpal tunnel typically causes pain in the thumb, index and middle fingers. Carpal tunnel is caused by compression of the median nerve, which runs down the length of the arm but passes through the carpal tunnel at the wrist, before going into the hand.

Without treatment, carpal tunnel syndrome generally gets worse over time. Early diagnosis is often the difference between non-surgical treatment to alleviate the compression and surgical options to avoid permanent damage to the nerve.

Pain and numbness in hands, fingers and thumbs from carpal tunnel can be influenced by a variety of factors including gender, genetics, age, occupation and activity level. Older people and females are more susceptible to carpal tunnel, and a small or “tight” amount of space in the wrist anatomy may be a hereditary factor. Prolonged or repetitive motions can lead to carpal tunnel. Medical conditions that range from pregnancy to thyroid imbalances, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis can also increase the occurrence of the syndrome.

If wrist pain or numbness in hands occurs at night, inadvertently sleeping with bent wrists (which is common) may aggravate carpal tunnel.

Although some patients experience relief by shaking their hands in an attempt to improve the numbness, the relief is fleeting. What’s worse, given the frequency that these conditions present gradually or come and go, it’s easy to ignore their signs. That can be a mistake, however, because early diagnosis can allow for the use of non-invasive solutions such as splinting and bracing as well as NSAIDS, or forgoing certain activities that aggravate the symptoms. Delayed diagnosis and treatment, on the other hand, can lead to permanent or irreversible nerve damage.

See a specialist to get the right diagnosis

If you have numbness in hands or numbness in fingers, see your orthopedic hand specialist for a proper evaluation, diagnosis and treatment. Your orthopedic hand surgeon will carefully examine, bend, flex, and test your wrists and arms. Strength assessments identify muscle weakness or atrophy and tapping along the corresponding nerve reveals sensitivity and numbness correlation. In addition to physical tests, nerve conduction studies can provide clear indication of nerve impingement.

Don’t ignore your symptoms – numbness in hands or fingers requires attention. Early diagnosis of hand and finger numbness can offer many non-surgical treatment and positive outcomes. Knowing what to look for makes a world of difference.

Best Hand Surgeons

A. Todd Alijani, MD

Dr. A. Todd Alijani

Davis Hurley, MD

Dr. Davis Hurley

Dr. Micah Worrell

Dr. Micah Worrell

Dr. Ng Success Story

Success Story: How endurance athlete Ryan Law got back on the race course after surgery with Dr. Ng

Ryan Law loves to run. So much, that in the past seven years, he’s run 11 marathons and seven ultra-marathons/endurance events (3X50 milers, 4X55k+, and Half Ironman – this guy knows how to #BeActive – we are talking serious distance here people!). But for years, he had been fighting through a chronic injury that was painful and performance-depleting.

After extensive online research to better understand the risks and potential upside of having surgery, in October, 2017 Ryan chose Dr. Alan Ng to perform surgery on his inflamed peroneal tendon. Due to an osteochondroma – a growth that forms on the surface of a bone near the growth plate – the tendon was inflamed and causing chronic pain.

Dr. Ng removed the osteochondroma and some damaged tendon tissue, carved out the channel along the ankle bone, and reattached the peroneal tendon. Shortly after surgery, Ryan began the road to recovery, working toward running and then up to more mileage over time.

“I started running again in March – about five months post-surgery – and I was able to return to my previously established 35 to 50 mile-a-week average by late May,” Ryan recalls. “My performance was not hindered by the surgery and if anything, it improved.”

Just this summer, in July, Ryan competed in the Copper Mountain Under Armor Mountain Running Series, less than a year after his surgery. And he’s still improving. This coming October will be a full year since the surgery and all signs point toward significant overall improvement. Ryan has every reason to be optimistic: “I suspect full recovery has not happened yet,” he said. “As I have yet to hit a full year and all my symptoms have improved since the surgery which is very reassuring.”

Dr. Alan Ng specializes in foot and ankle reconstructive surgery and trauma, and loves to help his patients getting back to the activities they love. And when he’s not helping patients he loves being active too – playing golf, skiing and mastering the martial arts of karate and Muay Thai kickboxing. Learn more