Dear Dr. Caraotta,
I have been a runner for seven years and have never had any knee problems. Recently, I have been experiencing pain in my right knee after running for 20-30 minutes. My questions are how
common are knee problems, is there something a person can do to prevent them and should I ignore this or schedule a time for a check up?
Dr. Caraotta’s Response
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 4.1 million people seek medical care each year for a knee problem. Some knee problems result from wear of parts of the knee, such as occurs in osteoarthritis. Other problems result from injury, such as a blow to the knee or sudden movements that strain the knee beyond its normal range of movement. Some knee problems, such as those resulting from an accident, cannot be foreseen or prevented.
However, a person can prevent many knee problems by following these suggestions:
- First warm up by walking or riding a stationary bicycle, then do stretches before exercising or participating in sports. Stretching the muscles in the front of the thigh (quadriceps) and back of the thigh (hamstrings) reduces tension on the tendons and relieves pressure on the knee during activity.
- Strengthen the leg muscles by doing specific exercises (for example, by walking up stairs or hills, or by riding a stationary bicycle). A supervised workout with weights is another pathway to strengthening leg muscles that benefit the knee.
- Avoid sudden changes in the intensity of exercise. Increase the force or duration of activity gradually.
- Wear shoes that both fit properly and are in good condition to help maintain balance and leg alignment when walking or running. Knee problems may be caused by flat feet or over-pronated feet (feet that roll inward). People can often reduce some these problems by wearing special shoe inserts (orthotics).
- Maintain appropriate weight to reduce stress on the knee. Obesity increases the risk of degenerative (wearing) conditions such as osteoarthritis of the knee.
Whenever a person develops knee pain as the result of a sporting activity, they should avoid the offending activity. There is no replacement for resting for a period of time. When resuming activities, do it gradually. We treat a lot of patients with knee problems. In our office we work with several semi-professional teams, and stress the importance of pre-season quadriceps conditioning which could prevent knee syndromes. After following the above suggestions if your symptoms remain, feel free to call us for an evaluation.
If you have a question that you would like Dr. Caraotta to address in his column, you could send your question to their office at 4921 E. State Street, Rockford, IL. 61108 or call your question in at Caraotta Chiropractic Orthopedics, (815) 398-4004 and ask to speak with one of the doctors.