Pain Below the Knee in Runners
Pain below the knee in runners can stem from various causes, including conditions like shin splints, tibial stress fractures, or patellar tendonitis. Runners may experience discomfort during or after running, particularly when bearing weight on the affected leg. The pain can range from dull to sharp and may be accompanied by swelling or tenderness. Management typically involves rest, ice, anti-inflammatory measures, and modifications to training routines. Proper footwear, gradual increases in running intensity, and addressing biomechanical factors are crucial for both treatment and prevention.
Patella tendonitis (Jumpers knee)
Patellar tendonitis, also known as jumper’s knee, is a common overuse injury characterized by inflammation of the patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone. This condition often occurs in athletes, especially those involved in activities requiring repetitive jumping and running. Individuals with patellar tendonitis may experience pain, swelling, and stiffness around the patellar tendon. Management typically involves rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, and targeted exercises to strengthen and rehabilitate the tendon. Adjustments to training routines, proper warm-up, and biomechanical considerations are crucial in preventing its recurrence. More information on Patella Tendonitis.
The term “shin splints” refers to pain and tenderness along the front and inner side of the bone in the lower leg, the tibia. Shin splints are frequently encountered in runners and can cause significant pain that limits the ability run or jog. The official medical term used to describe shin splints is “medial tibial stress syndrome” (MTSS).
The exact cause of shin splints remains unknown. It has been attributed to inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and lining of the bone. Learn more about shin splints.
Tibial Stress Fractures
A stress fracture is a partial fracture in a bone that is caused by repetitive loading over time. Most fractures have an acute onset meaning that there was one mechanism of injury that caused the fracture.
Stress fractures are unique in that the bone breaks down over time causing a small partial fracture within the bone. Unlike most acute fractures in which the fracture is all of the way through the bone with an immediate onset of pain and associated functional disability, an athlete with a stress fracture may not know they have a fracture. More information on stress fractures.
Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Syndrome (SLJS) is a condition that can affect runners, particularly adolescents, characterized by inflammation or irritation at the inferior pole of the patella where the patellar tendon attaches to the shinbone. This overuse injury often arises during growth spurts or periods of increased physical activity. Runners with SLJS may experience localized pain, swelling, and tenderness just below the kneecap. Management typically involves rest, ice, anti-inflammatory measures, and exercises to strengthen the quadriceps and patellar tendon. Modification of activities and addressing contributing factors like biomechanics are crucial for effective treatment and prevention of recurrence.