Suffering From Runner’s Knee? Instead of Surgery, Consider These Natural Treatments
If you tend to suffer from runner’s knee, you might think you’re headed for the operating room, but all hope is not lost – consider these natural treatments and you’re likely to find relief without going under the knife.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome, AKA “runner’s knee,” is one of the most common exercise-related injuries in adults. It isn’t a specific type of injury, but a term that describes a collective group of painful knee symptoms. Most mild-to-moderate cases of the condition go away on their own, simply by good ‘ol rest, ice packs and stretching – if you’re continuing to suffer from it, you might think surgery is in order, but only rarely does runner’s knee require going to such drastic measures.
Causes of Runner’s Knee
It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact cause of runner’s knee. It can be a biomechanical problem, meaning the patella may be larger on the outside than it is on the inside, it might dislocate easily, or, it may sit too high in the femoral groove. If cartilage becomes worn, the knee is less able to absorb shock, or if knees turn in or out too much, that can pull the patella sideways.
Runner’s knee can also be caused by muscular issues, such as calf muscles that place added pressure on the knee, or weak quadriceps that can lead the patella to become out of alignment. Even the repetitive force of a normal running stride can lead to the condition.
Risk Factors for Runner’s Knee
Runners aren’t the only ones prone to suffer from runner’s knee either. You’re more subject to the condition if any of these factors apply to you:
- Improper form when working out, particularly when performing certain exercise that requires repetitive leg motion, like dancing or climbing stairs
- Exercising on uneven pavement
- Starting out a strenuous exercise too quickly, like increasing running mileage or the intensity of a run or other type of exercise too fast
- Not replacing workout shoes often enough
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a history of a disorder that affects the joints like arthritis or osteoarthritis
Common Symptoms of Runner’s Knee
The symptoms of runner’s knee can vary, but the most common signs are:
- Pain toward the back of the knee
- Throbbing pain that flip flops from dull to sharp in either one or both knees
- A “popping” or “cracking” sensation that makes it feel as if your knee is about to give out
- Difficulty walking, running, climbing, bending or squatting
- Signs of swelling, such as redness and heat around the knee or fluid retention
- Tenderness and sometimes swelling, that typically radiates outward, below or behind the affected knee
Conventional Treatment for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
If you visit your healthcare provider to treat runner’s knee, you’ll likely be injected with a corticosteroid, which helps to reduce inflammation and swelling that’s associated with the pain.
The problem with that is that while it does address the throbbing and swelling, it won’t get to the root of the issue, which means symptoms may return. And if you’re thinking, “What about steroids?” Well, those can’t be used on a long-term basis, typically come with a host of side effects, and aren’t well-tolerated by all.
Natural Treatments for Runner’s Knee
The good news is that there are natural treatments that can be just as effective, if not more so, and come without the side effects, like these.
Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Consuming healthy, anti-inflammatory foods and supplements can help control inflammation that leads to pain. It also ensures that your body gets the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and electrolytes needed that are essential for carrying out natural healing of the musculoskeletal system. That’s because when you’re deficient in important nutrients, it contributes to reduced blood flow, deterioration, aging and inflammation.
An anti-inflammatory diet means avoiding processed junk and eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats from foods like coconut oil and olive oil, wild-caught salmon and “clean protein,” like nuts and seeds – and, be sure to spice up your meals too, as many not only add a tasty flavor, they offer health benefits too.
Use Turmeric Liberally, and Often
Turmeric is a true wonder spice – in fact, it seems there is almost nothing that this amazing herb can’t do. In addition to offering a multitude of health benefits, it’s long been used as a natural treatment for pain as it possesses strong anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, analgesic and antibacterial properties that can stop it in its tracks. Turmeric is also known to help support joint and connective tissue health as you age.
Strengthen and Stretch the Quads and Hamstrings
Runner’s knee can often result in those who have weak quadriceps and/or tight hamstrings, which means adding cross-training or specific exercises to strengthen and stretch your entire leg are important to include in your regular routine.
Give your Knees a Break
If you’ve been overdoing the running or any type of exercise, it could be that your knees just need to rest. Some of the clues that they need a break include pain or other symptoms that begin during or right after a run, or start around the time you begin your run and then decrease when you stop.
If you’re running or exercising in some other way and find that in the middle of it the pain gets so great you have to stop, it’s probably time to give it a rest.
See a Professional to Ensure Correct Form and Posture
An expert can help you correct your form and posture to reduce the stress that’s placed on vulnerable joints like the knees.
Why the Effort is Worth the Reward
Taking steps like changing your diet, adding cross-training, resting and ensuring proper form when exercising may take some effort, but it’s a whole lot less invasive than surgery – and, you’ll likely feel much better for it over the long term too.
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