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Runner's Knee Causes & Risks


There is no single cause for this condition. It can be due to a number of different factors or conditions. These conditions include:

  • Malalignment of the knee joint—often caused by dysfunction in the feet. People who pronate (roll their feet out) when they walk pull the kneecap out of line. This causes painful rubbing of the kneecap against the bones of the knee. Rarely, this condition occurs because the kneecap is located too high or too low in the knee joint.
  • Weak anterior thigh muscles (quadriceps)—help to hold the kneecap in place as it moves. If these muscles are weak, they cannot hold the kneecap in the correct position. This causes the kneecap to rub against the femur during movement.
  • Overuse and overloading the knee joint—especially from high-impact sports or activities can cause pain.

Risk Factors

The following factors increase your chance of developing patellofemoral pain syndrome:

  • Any condition that causes misalignment of the knee joint, such as:
    • Flat feet
    • High arches
    • Hip dysfunction
    • Pronation when walking
    • External rotation of the lower leg
    • Knock knees
  • Participation in high-impact sports, such as running
  • Trauma, such as an automobile accident where the kneecap hits the dashboard

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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