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Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, aka Runner’s Knee: Causes, Effects, and Treatment

laterally displaced kneecap diagram

Welcome back to the AFC health blog! This is Dr. Wall and this month's topic is knee health. Wow, the knee! Ow, the knee! The knee is a complex joint and also one of the most stressed joints in the body. You may or may not have heard the term, runner’s knee, or its medical name, patellofemoral pain syndrome. Its most basic definition is pain around the knee cap, the one point in the knee joint requiring the most balance and finesse to stay healthy. We’ll explore the root cause of runner’s knee and what can be done to combat it, but first, let’s see what we’re dealing with. 

Here are some facts about the knee:

  1. The knee is the largest joint in the body.
  2. It is vital for leg movement.
  3. The joint that adolescent athletes most commonly injure is, in fact, the knee.
  4. The knee is one of the most common joints to require joint replacement surgery.
  5. It it very vulnerable to injury.

My personal goal is to keep everything God gave me and avoid replacing or having surgery on any original part of me. How do we do that? To understand this and prevent as many of these surgeries and injuries, we need to know a bit about the knee anatomy: 

The major stabilizer for everyone’s knee is the patella, or knee cap. It is not the ACL, the PCL, or even the meniscus. The knee cap, with its position in the middle of the knee, is like the hinge pin for a door. When in its proper position, it keeps doors stable. Doors are able to open and close freely and safely! 

Most patients presenting knee issues have a laterally displaced kneecap, which is first diagnosed through patellofemoral pain syndrome. The cause? Tight IT bands and medial quad (vastus medialis) weakness. This causes the knee cap to be pulled laterally, and the medial muscle cannot compensate. The result is like pulling the hinge pin out of the door! Ligaments are overstressed and will pull or tear! To prevent knee injuries and DJD in your knee, you must to strengthen your VMO muscle and get professional help to release the IT band. 

At AFC, we are very effective at knee injury treatment and prevention. Our goal is to ease the tension on your knee cap, or patella, preventing knee dislocation or displacement and further knee problems. Learn all about knee pain and how to help to treat and prevent it.

This month, stay tuned as we discuss more on the anatomy of the knee and how to turn weekend warrior syndrome into a consistent habit of health. Whether you are facing the first signs of runner’s knee or are experiencing the complications of prolonged patellofemoral pain syndrome, we encourage you to please make a chiropractic appointment at your earliest convenience.