This condition, also called patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), is most commonly found in runners. It presents as pain around the kneecap, or patella, where it connects to the femur (the lower end of the thigh bone). Runners knee can affect one or both of the knees. Due to the difference in anatomy, this condition afflicts twice as many women as it does men.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome usually causes tenderness behind or around the kneecap. This pain is typically felt during physical activity, but it can also appear after prolonged periods of sitting with knees bent. Sometimes runners knee can cause you to feel like your knees are giving out, making you feel weak or unstable when standing. Other symptoms can also include pain at the back of the knee, a feeling of cracking when the knee bends, or a kneecap that is tender to the touch.
There are many potential causes of runners knee. Sometimes this condition is caused by a structural problem, such as a kneecap that sits too high in the knee joint. It can also be caused by tight hamstring and calf muscles, which put additional pressure on the knee. If you have worn cartilage or high-arched feet and do not wear the proper foot support while running, this can also contribute to pain in the patella. Sometimes this condition can result from excessive training, overuse, a sports injury or simply the repetition of force from your regular running stride.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause on your own, and sometimes the symptoms of runners knee can resemble other conditions. If you are experiencing any prolonged discomfort in your kneecap, refrain from running and seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment.