Runner’s Knee

Understanding Runner’s Knee and the treatments available to you.

Runner’s Knee is the common term used to describe pain around the kneecap also known as the patella.

There are several conditions including anterior knee pain syndrome, patellofemoral malalignment, chondromalacia patella, and iliotibial band syndrome.


The main symptom of runner’s knee is pain. You may also experience swelling, hear popping, or feel grinding in your knee. You will typically notice pain in the following areas:

  • In the front of your kneecap
  • Around or behind your kneecap
  • When you bend your knee to walk, kneel, run, or squat
  • When you walk downstairs or downhill



As expected, running is a common cause of runner’s knee. However, any activity that repeatedly pressures the knee joint can cause the disorder. Walking, biking, jumping, cycling, and soccer are all activities that could cause runner’s knee.

Other factors that can cause runner’s knee include:

  • A direct hit to the knee from a fall

  • Unaligned bones- Your doctor will describe this as malalignment. If any of your bones in between your hips and ankles are out of line this can put too much pressure on your knee. This interferes with the movement of your kneecap.

  • Problems with your feet, such as hypermobile feet, fallen arches, or overpronation can change the way you walk and lead to knee pain.

  • Chondromalacia patella, a condition where the cartilage under your kneecap breaks down

  • Inadequate stretching before exercise

  • Weak or tight thigh muscles

  • Arthritis

  • Flat feet


As expected, running is a common cause of runner’s knee. However, any activity that repeatedly pressures the knee joint can cause the disorder. Walking, biking, jumping, cycling, and soccer are all activities that could cause runner’s knee.

  • Stretch before exercise. We recommend a 5-minute warm-up and stretching exercises before performing any activity that stresses the knee.
  • Strengthen your thigh muscles with regular exercise.
  • Purchase supportive shoes or shoe inserts.
  • Stay in shape and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid running on hard surfaces.
  • Replace worn running shoes.
  • Don’t make sudden fitness changes that could strain your knee.
  • Use proper running form. Keep your knees bent and make sure you aren’t leaning too far forward or backward.



Tennis elbow is often caused by damage to the ECRB. The ECRB muscle helps stabilize the wrist when the elbow is straight. When the muscle is weakened from overuse this causes microscopic tears to form in the tendon where it attaches to the lateral epicondyle. This creates inflammation and pain. Another risk for damage is the position of the ECRB. When the elbow bends and straightens, the muscle rubs and can eventually create wear and tear of the muscle.


Although tennis elbow is common in athletes, they are not the only people to develop this condition. There are many other activities that result in repteitive use of the forearm muscle. Carpenters, painters, plumbers, auto workers, and chefs are all known to develop tennis elbow.


The most common age that tennis elbow is developed is between ages 30 and 50.

Diagnosis &Treatment


To diagnose runner’s knee, your doctor will give you a physical examination that may include X-rays, an MRI scan, or a CT scan.


Your treatment will depend on the underlying cause, but runner’s knee can typically be treated without surgery. In many cases, runner’s knee will get better on its own. For pain relief and a speedy recovery, you can:

After the pain and swelling are diminished, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to restore your knee’s strength and range of motion. A brace may be necessary for extra support and pain relief. While surgery is not usually needed, it may be recommended if your cartilage is damaged or if your kneecap needs to be realigned.

Meet the specialists

Michael F. Blum, M.D.

Michael F. Blum, M.D., completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1985. He graduated medical school at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham in 1989 and completed an Orthopaedic Surgery Residency in 1995. Dr. Blum began his orthopaedic practice in Alexander City, Alabama, and relocated to Birmingham to become one of the founding owners of Southlake Orthopaedics Sports Medicine and Spine Center. Dr. Blum’s practice has a special emphasis on sports medicine and joint replacement/reconstruction.
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George Robert Booker, M.D.

George Robert Booker, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at Auburn University in 2001 where he graduated magna cum laude with a major in Microbiology. He completed medical school at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama in 2005 and completed an orthopaedic surgery residency in 2010 at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Booker began in his practice at Southlake Orthopaedics Sports Medicine and Spine Center in 2010. He completed his board certification process in July of 2012 and is a current diplomate of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons.
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Michael T. Ellerbusch, M.D.

Dr. Ellerbusch received his bachelor’s degree in Biology Pre-Medicine and Chemistry from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. While there, he was named a USA Today Academic All-American. He also received the Outstanding Senior Man Award and served as the commencement speaker at the graduation ceremony. He attended medical school at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois, where he graduated with high honors.
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Dewey H. Jones, M.D.

Southlake Orthopaedics welcomes Dr. Jones as the newest member to our orthopaedic team in January 2019. Dr. Jones has been a respected orthopaedic surgeon practicing in the Birmingham area for the last 19 years. When he finished his residency in 2000, he joined his father’s orthopaedic practice at Brookwood Orthopedics. He has most recently been in practice at Powell & Jones Orthopedics Center, which he formed In 2014 with his father and Dr. Thomas Powell. We are delighted to have him associate with our group. Dr. Jones offers his expertise in treating adult and pediatric patients with musculoskeletal conditions. He also offers treatment in sports medicine, arthritis, and workers’ comp. Dr. Jones has an interest in arthroscopic and minimally invasive techniques of the shoulder and knee.
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