Running Injuries Runner’s Knee

Runner’s Knee

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)

Patellofemoral Stress Syndrome (PFSS)

Runners Knee


These are all different names for the same exact condition.  Because there are so many different names used to describe this painful knee condition it causes much confusion to the patients as well as most of the doctors and therapists treating them.  In addition to that confusion there is also the problem of an inaccurate diagnosis.  The below videos are intended to help you differentiate whether or not you have PFPS/Chondromalacia versus Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), Patella Tendonitis (Jumpers Knee), Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) sprain or Medial Meniscus sprain.  Remember that what is most important is not only figuring out WHAT you have but HOW to get rid of it.


Runners Knee goes by many names.  Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS), Chondromalacia, Patella tracking error, weak quads and more.  If your knee hurts and you happen to be a runner you may have been labeled with one of those diagnosis.  Typical Runners Knee results in pain underneath (deep) to your kneecap and is described as achy and painful while running, running downhill, downstairs, squatting or lunging.

The problem is more common in women than men and is thought to be related to foot pronation and/or knee angle.  Because women have a wider (wider than men) hip to knee ratio they have a sharper angle at their knee.  This can result in excessive torque on the knee, its structures resulting in pain and dysfunction.  Due to excessive torque it is common for the kneecap to become misaligned and pop out if its track.  This is why it is called a patella tracking error.  When it pops out of its track it can result in repetitive grinding, popping and clicking causing degeneration of the cartilage behind the kneecap.  This is known as Chondromalacia or sometimes arthritis.  The chronic pain causes runners to avoid using their quadriceps in activities such as squatting or lunging.  This results in muscle weakness or quadriceps weakness.  PFPS, also known as Chondromalacia is often misdiagnosed as Iliotibial Band Syndrome or Patella Tendonitis incorrectly.  An inaccurate diagnosis will lead to ineffective treatment.  In addition to getting an accurate diagnosis it is important to understand WHY you developed the injury.

What you can see after reading the above is that everyone is describing the same problem but in a different way.  Runners Knee is a Patella tracking problem and Chondromalacia and weak quadriceps resulting in Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS).  Whatever you want to call it it is more important to understand why you got it and fix it.

At the San Diego Running Institute we carry many “quick-fixes” for Runners Knee.  To address overpronation we stock SUPERFEET orthotics.  SUPERFEET orthotics provides arch support and stability to prevent overpronation which can cause Runners Knee.  We also carry PRO-TECH neoprene knee supports with the hole cut-out for your knee cap.  This simple knee brace can help provide compression and support and alleviate some of your knee pain.  If these “quick-fixes” fail the San Diego Running Institute can provide you with a referral to Dr. Victor Runco.  Dr. Runco is a marathon runner and running injury specialist.  If the simple, quick-fix methods have not helped your knee pain Dr. Runco can.  He will accurately access your knee condition to make sure it is Runners Knee and not Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Patella Tendonitis, ligament sprains or meniscus injury.  He can then recommend therapy, strengthening exercises, Kinesiotaping and if necessary custom foot orthotics and/or better shoes to help cure your Runners Knee.

If you have been suffering needlessly with knee pain the San Diego Running and Sports Injury Institute can help you get rid of it.   To make an appointment with Dr. Runco call (858) 268-8525.  You can also fill out the forms on our site “Ask the Doc” or email Dr. Runco directly at [email protected]

Ask The Doc