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
● Flat feet
● 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.
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:
● Rest your knee. Avoid added stress on the knee. Try to avoid running, lunging, squatting, or sitting and standing for extended periods of time.
● Ice your knee. Relieve the pain and reduce the swelling by icing your knee for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for 2 to 3 days. Avoid any heat to the knee.
● Wrap your knee. Use an elastic bandage or sleeve to eliminate swelling. Do not wrap your knee too tight, this can cause swelling below the knee.
● Elevate your knee. Use a pillow under your knee while sitting or lying down to prevent additional swelling. When there is intense swelling, keep your foot elevated above your knee and your knee above the level of your heart.
● Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. If you need additional pain relief, take over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Talk to your doctor before taking these medicines.
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.
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.
While in medical school, Dr. Booker assisted Dr. Bill Bryant in providing orthopaedic care for Hoover High School athletics. Since 2005 he has provided orthopaedic coverage for professional rodeos in conjunction with Justin Sports Medicine.
Dr. Booker’s practice includes evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal problems including adult and pediatric fractures, joint reconstruction/replacement, sports medicine, and arthroscopy, hand surgery, and surgery of the foot and ankle.
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.
After graduation, he moved to Birmingham, Alabama where he performed one year of residency in Internal Medicine and then completed an additional three years in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He served as the Chief Resident during his final year at UAB. He then completed a subspecialty fellowship in Sports Medicine at the Alabama Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Clinic. After completing his fellowship in 2001, he practiced at the Alabama Orthopaedic and Spine Center of Tuscaloosa. He served as the Medical Director for the Athletic Program at Shelton State Community College as well as serving as Team Physician for multiple high schools in the Tuscaloosa area.
Dr. Ellerbusch joined the practice of Southlake Orthopaedics in 2005. He currently serves as Team Physician for Hoover High School and the associated middle schools. He is currently triple board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Sports Medicine and Electrodiagnostic Medicine. He enjoys seeing a variety of patients for non-surgical treatment, especially in the area of Sports Medicine. He also performs his own electromyograms and nerve conduction studies commonly used in the diagnosis of carpel tunnel syndrome and other nerve entrapments. In addition, he frequently lectures in the areas of non-operative treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, sports medicine, osteoarthritis, nerve conduction studies and electromyography. On a personal level, he enjoys participating in athletics including basketball and golf. He also is active in coaching his son and daughter in various sporting activities in the community. In addition, he is very active at Cahaba Heights Church of Christ where he serves as a deacon.
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.
Dr. Jones graduated from Vanderbilt University with a BS in Molecular Biology in 1991. He received his medical degree from the University Of Alabama School Of Medicine at Birmingham in 1995. His Orthopaedic training at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee was completed in 2000. Dr. Jones’ training included trauma training in Davos, Switzerland, pediatric training at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and care of amateur and professional athletes at Froedert Sports Medicine Clinic.
The son of an orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Jones has enjoyed a lifetime of exposure to orthopaedic care. He enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters. He also enjoys playing golf and skiing when he is not busy in the operating room.