Athletes, with their high intensity activities, are highly susceptible to knee injuries. Whether the sport is basketball, soccer, or football, or whether it’s track and field or running, these sports place huge demands on the knees.
Knee pain in athletes is common and can hold you back from participating in your sport. In this article, we discuss the common causes of knee pain in athletes and how to manage it for peak athletic performance.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
One of the most common causes of knee pain in young athletes is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). This condition, also known as idiopathic anterior knee pain, is characterized by pain that is felt around the kneecap.
PFPS typically occurs due to overuse or improper alignment of the patella within the femoral groove.
These factors can contribute to the development of patellofemoral pain syndrome:
- Weak thigh muscles
- Tight hamstrings
- Poor foot support
This condition also afflicts more female than male athletes. Proper conditioning and strengthening of the lower body muscles, particularly the quadriceps and hip muscles, help provide better support to the knee joint. Additionally, wearing supportive shoes lessens strain on the knees. Altogether, they can help prevent patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Athletes are prone to knee injuries such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and bursitis:
- The ACL is a cruciate ligament that stabilizes the knee and prevents forward sliding of the joint. It can become overstretched or torn from sudden stops or pivots. The most common location of the pain is in the front or middle of the knee.
- Knee bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae, fluid-filled sacs that provide cushioning to the knee joint. A direct blow to the knee is usually what causes knee bursitis in athletes, and symptoms tend to develop quickly. There is often swelling and difficulty bending or straightening the knee.
To prevent knee injuries such as ACL tears and knee bursitis, the muscles surrounding the knee should be well-conditioned. Additionally, participating in neuromuscular training programs can help improve movement patterns and techniques, reducing the risk of ACL tears. Wearing knee pads can help protect the knees from impact injuries.
Overtraining or Overuse
Overtraining refers to excessive exercising or training that well exceeds the body’s ability to recover from the stress created by it. It typically involves pushing beyond normal training limits without allowing sufficient rest and recovery time.
Overuse, on the other hand, specifically refers to repetitive strain injuries caused by excessive and repetitive use of a particular body part or joint. It typically arises from engaging in the same movement pattern or activity repeatedly, putting strain on specific muscles, tendons, or joints in the knees. Runner’s knee is one example of an overuse injury.
Athletes should incorporate scheduled rest days into their training plans and have a consistent sleep routine to help improve their recovery.
Seek Professional Help
If you are an athlete experiencing knee pain, you should bring it to the attention of an orthopedic doctor specializing in sports injury treatment or a sports medicine doctor. This specialist is most qualified to diagnose and treat knee pain and can help prevent it from happening again. Additionally, sports medicine doctors also help athletes enhance their performance.
Top Sports Orthopedic Surgeon in Naples, FL
The highly skilled orthopedic team at the Joint Replacement Institute can help you find relief from knee pain and get you back to the game quickly. We have a dedicated sports medicine department – led by sports orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Brian Wallace – and offer a range of treatment options to maximize your recovery.
Sustaining a knee injury can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. If you choose us, you will have a caring orthopedic team by your side. We are proud to serve athletes in Florida. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Wallace, call our office at (239) 261-2663 or use our online form.
Our friendly staff looks forward to serving your needs as an athlete!