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Patellofemoral pain (Runners knee pain)- See a physio!

This rather symmetrical looking pair of knees is a good example of how pain on one side can easily result in an overload of the opposite leg, and therefore pain on the contralateral (opposite) side as well. This lady developed patellofemoral pain, very common in runners. It is often referred to as runners knee.

She ignored her knee pain as most people do, thought it would ease on its own. Unfortunately this resulted in her overloading the other knee and gave resulting pain on the other side. Twice the number of knees in pain means double the amount of difficultly with our management strategy, so when this lady finally came to see me, I had to find a solution which allowed her to unload both knees at the same time. Knee pain is sometimes difficult to unload because it's a weight-bearing joint. This is why (osteoarthritis) or wear-and-tear is very commonly seen in the knee above other joints.

Taping can be a good way to do this. Using Kinesiology tape and applying a stretch around the lateral and medial 1/3 of the patella (knee-cap), it can help lift the patella up and away, reducing force transmitted through the patellofemoral joint. It also helps give patients more awareness of the joint and can lead them to protecting more in a healthy way, and makes the joint feel more secure.

A proper strengthening programme must then be adopted to ensure balance across the quadriceps, and the necessary levels of gluteal (bottom) activation. Patellofemoral pain, PFJ pain, knee pain, whatever you want to call it, usually comes on after mechanical imbalances which result in the overloading. Physiotherapy is the most effective way to ensure that if you develop pain anywhere within the knee joint, it is corrected at its route-cause by improving biomechanics.

The moral of this story is to see someone when pain first starts- you’ll find a much quicker solution than if you let the pain spread!

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