Fall is in full swing and the famous NYC marathon just took place! Watching all those courageous participants in that amazing race gave me goosebumps! Witnessing those runners cross the finish line and achieve their goals made me start to think about my next big race in 2019, another half marathon. Next year, I want to kick it up a notch and push myself to run a faster time all while protecting my joints and running with a peaceful mindset.
As I have begun my running routine again this season, I have noticed some aches and pains in my body. With repetitive running and other aerobic exercise during the last thirty years. There have been periods in my life where I have complained of knee pain. Pain can stem from a simple runner’s injury, but it can also be more serious. We need to pay attention to our bodies and explore the causes for knee pain.
KNEE PAIN RED FLAGS
You should seek medical attention WHEN…
• You experience significant swelling or a fever with the knee pain
• Your knee cannot support your body’s weight
• Your knee locks up and does not relax
• You fall from the knee pain
It is very important for you to share with your physician the details of your knee pain in order for your doctor to complete a thorough evaluation.
WHAT A PAIN IN THE KNEE FOR ATHLETES!
a) Chondromalacia patellae– Younger individuals may complain of pain on top of the knee, especially runners. You may notice pain when climbing and descending stairs or with squatting, kneeling, and standing up from chairs after prolonged sitting.
This condition also known as patellofemoral syndrome occurs when nerves sense pain in the soft tissues and bone around the kneecap. These soft tissues include the tendons, the fat pad beneath the patella, and the tissue that lines the knee joint.
b) Ligament injuries of the anterior cruciate ligament tear (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and medical collateral ligament (MCL) often occur in younger individuals who are involved in athletics.
c) Meniscal tear– Runners may have decreased ability to move their knees or hear a “popping” or “clicking”noise in the knee with this condition.
The meniscus is an important part of the knee cartilage because it distributes a person’s body weight across the knee joint. Both older and younger individuals can experience meniscal or cartilage tears.
KNEE PAIN POTENTIAL CAUSES CONTINUED
d) Patellar tendonitis, also known as “jumper’s knee,” is most common in athletes whose sports involve frequent jumping — such as basketball, running, soccer and volleyball. The patellar tendon is located over the front of the knee and may become inflamed with overuse and result in pain.
e) Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome causes pain in the hip and knee. This specific condition, which runners and cyclists can experience, causes pain on the outside of the knee with overuse of the band of connective tissue (iliotibial tendon) that extends from the outside thigh to the knee. When the band tightens and rubs across the hipbone, inflammation may occur.
f) Post injury or trauma arthritis can result in knee pain from cartilage damage, ligament tears or bone fractures. Loose cartilage can also break off and exist in the joint space.
Athletic injuries are inevitable, but remember to always stretch and check in with your doctor about whether a particular exercise or sport is appropriate for your health history, and ability!
WHAT ABOUT OTHER REASONS FOR KNEE PAIN?
a) Prepatellar Bursitis– This often occurs in individuals who kneel for their occupation or are involved in tasks that involve kneeling for a significant period, like cleaning or getting your little one to crawl. There is a small sac of joint fluid in the kneecap and fluid can accumulate there and cause pain and swelling.
b) Baker’s or popliteal cyst– Knee pain may arise from swelling that occurs in the back of the knee. Sometimes the cyst or swelling may become so large that the cyst ruptures and causes significant pain in the knee and calf. A baker’s cyst may be a sign that there is an underlying problem, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or a meniscal tear.
c) Osteoarthritis– often referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis, occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints breaks down with aging and results in the bones of the joint rubbing together. This breakdown of cartilage may cause knee pain, swelling, and minimal stiffness.
KNEE PAIN AND ARTHRITIS
d) Rheumatoid arthritis– a debilitating arthritis associated with inflammation, joint destruction, and possibly involvement of other organs in the body.
e) Gout– is a type of arthritis linked to an increase of a substance in the body called uric acid. When there is a large buildup of uric acid in the body, crystals form and may settle in the joint causing severe pain, redness, and swelling. Sometimes eating certain foods like red meat, shellfish and drinking beer may also increase uric acid in the body.
Try a veggie burger, quinoa salad or cucumber water instead!
f)Pseudogout-Women from their mid-forties to sixties can experience this condition, which can result from an accumulation of calciumcrystals in the body and cause knee pain.
It is also very important for the physician to consider other conditions such as an infection (septic arthritis) or a neurologic condition if your physician does not suspect the above causes.
Make a solid effort to pay attention to your knees. I will keep you posted on my training. For more information and exercises see Kristin McGee’s website () as I speak about different exercises for knee pain.
Keep those knees strong and fit!
References: American College of Rheumatology
Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Rheumatology, Third Edition