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The Truth Behind Runner's Knee: What the Evidence Shows

Runner's knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), is a common condition among runners and athletes. Conservative treatment is often the first line of approach and may include various strategies. It's important to note that while conservative treatments can be effective, individual responses may vary. Here are some evidence-based conservative treatments for runner's knee:

Rest and Activity Modification:

  • Evidence suggests that giving the knee sufficient time to rest and modifying activities that exacerbate symptoms can be beneficial. This may involve temporarily reducing or avoiding activities that cause pain, such as running or jumping.

Physical Therapy:

  • Physical therapy is a key component of conservative treatment. Strengthening exercises for the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles can help improve the alignment and stability of the knee.

  • Neuromuscular training, which includes exercises focusing on balance and coordination, has been shown to be effective in reducing pain and improving function in individuals with PFPS.


  • Shoe inserts or orthotic devices may help in improving foot and knee alignment. While the evidence is mixed, some studies suggest that customised foot orthoses may be beneficial for individuals with PFPS.

Patellar Taping:

  • Some studies have indicated that patellar taping or bracing can provide short-term relief by altering patellar alignment and reducing pain. However, the long-term effectiveness is still a subject of research.

Icing and Anti-Inflammatory Medications:

  • Ice therapy can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), under the guidance of a healthcare professional, may be used to manage pain and inflammation.

Education and Activity Modification:

  • Educating individuals about proper running techniques, warm-up exercises, and footwear can be crucial. Activity modification, such as avoiding excessive downhill running, may also play a role in managing symptoms.

Home Exercise Programmes:

  • Providing individuals with a home exercise programme that includes stretching and strengthening exercises can contribute to long-term improvements in symptoms.

It's important for individuals with runner's knee to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist, to determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on their specific needs and the severity of their condition. Additionally, the effectiveness of these treatments may vary from person to person, and a tailored approach is often necessary.


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