Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome) is a common knee condition that goes by many names.  The most common are Chondromalacia, Chondromalacia Patella, Patella Tracking Error(s), Patellofemoral Stress Syndrome and Malicious Malalignment Syndrome.  These are all different names used to describe the same condition.  Because there are so many different names used to describe this painful knee condition it causes confusion to patients and the doctors and therapists treating them.  In addition to that confusion there is also the problem of an inaccurate diagnosis.  This article and videos will explain what Runner’s Knee is and is not and review the various ways to treat it.

Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)

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, going up or down stairs, squatting or lunging.

What Causes Runners Knee

Runner’s Knee is more common in women than men and is thought to be related to foot pronation and/or knee angle.  Women have a wider (wider than men) hip to knee ratio compared to most men therefore they have a sharper angle at their knee.  This can result in excessive torque on the knee and its associated structures resulting in pain and dysfunction.  The excessive torque can cause 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.  Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, Chondromalacia, Patella tracking Error) is often incorrectly misdiagnosed as Iliotibial Band Syndrome or Patella Tendonitis.  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 Error.  Runner’s Knee is Chondromalacia.   Weak quadriceps result in Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS).  Whatever you want to call it it is more important to understand why you have it and how to fix it.

How do I fix Runner’s Knee

The key to fixing Runner’s Knee is understanding why you developed it.  If you developed it due to a wide hip-knee ration (Quadricep Angle) then you may need to strengthen you Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Adductors and Abductors.  You may also need custom orthotics to help offset the excessive torque that occurs at your knee joint. I would also recommend a custom shoe fitting at a good running specialty shop.  If you are in San Diego go to Milestone Running Shop in Northpark. There are accessory things you can do to suck as a foam roller and massage stick regimen.

Try Getting new Shoes to Fix Runner’s Knee

Sometimes change is good.  By changing shoes you might change how your foot interacts with the ground.  This in turn will affect the amount of rotation and torque at your knee which may be causing Runner’s Knee.  There is no such thing as the “right shoe” or a shoe that is specifically designed to combat Runner’s Knee.  Common sense would dictate that if you were going to try new shoes to purchase a new shoe that is dramatically different to what you are currently wearing.  Consider a rocker bottom shoe like a Hoka or a zero drop shoe like an Altra for example.  If you live in San Diego go to Milestone Running Shop for your shoes.  You will not be disappointed.

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. Allen D.C. call (858) 268-8525 or for more information email