New guidelines for Runner's Knee

Active rather than passive treatments are the key to recovering from “Runner’s Knee”, according to new international treatment guidelines co-authored by La Trobe University physiotherapy researcher Dr Christian Barton.

Kneecap pain, also known as Runner’s Knee, patellofemoral pain or PFP, affects one in four people. It is the most common running injury, is often persistent, and reduces quality of life and physical activity.

A new Clinical Practice Guideline, published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy finds people with kneecap pain should engage in exercise-therapy, namely hip and knee strengthening, prescribed by a physiotherapist.

The guideline also states:

  • An exercise program that gradually increases activities such as running, exercise classes, sports, or walking, is the best way to prevent kneecap pain
  • Risk of kneecap pain can be reduced through improved leg strength, particularly the thigh muscles
  • Pain does not necessarily equate to knee damage, but a physiotherapist can advise patients about acceptable levels

Dr Barton, who is based at La Trobe's Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre, said physiotherapists play an important role in helping people understand why their knees may hurt, and in helping them recover and stay active.

“While proposed quick fixes for knee pain might be appealing, they rarely work. Evidence tells us that passive treatments such as using machines, having injections, and even undergoing surgery are not necessarily effective,” Dr Barton said.

“People with kneecap pain should see a physiotherapist who can provide them with a good exercise program and educate them about how to stay active and be sensible about how much exercise they should do,” Dr Barton said.

Media Contact: Kathryn Powley | 0456 764 371 | k.powley@latrobe.edu.au

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