Why does my knee hurt when I run?

Ever wonder why your knee hurts when you run? Sometimes runners experience pain either during their run or afterward. There are several reasons why some runners experience pain.

Patellofemoral knee pain syndrome

The most common pain syndrome centers on the patella (knee cap). Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) usually comes on gradually as more stress is placed on the knee.

It is usually thought of as an overuse injury. It is most often treated with ice, rest, and in some cases, physical therapy.

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS)

The iliotibial band (IT band) is a long, thick mass of fascia that extends from the hip to the knee. It functions to help with knee stabilization while you walk or run.

Pain is usually present right at about where the IT band meets the outside of the knee.

Most of the time, ice and rest will help. However, the pain can persist long term. In these instances, your doctor may recommend other treatments such as corticosteroid injections, anti-inflammatory medication, or physical therapy.

Patellar tendonitis

The patellar tendon connects the bottom of the patella to the tibia (shin bone). It usually presents itself as a dull, aching pain in front of the knee.

Like other tendons, it can become inflamed from overuse or injury. Usually, rest and ice are enough to manage the pain. However, some conditions are more serious, such as chronic pain or a complete tendon tear. Treatment in those severe cases can involve the use of medication or even surgery.

Meniscus tears

The two menisci are small disc-shaped cartridge and lie between the femur and the tibia. They act as shock absorbers between the two bones.

A meniscus tear is usually caused by heightening physical activity, especially if it involves twisting motions. Older people are more susceptible since the menisci become brittle and more susceptible to tears as we age.

The common symptoms of a meniscus tear are:

  • Popping noise
  • Knee instability
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Trouble straightening the knee
  • Acute pain, especially while turning your body or changing direction while walking

Treatment options include:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Elevation
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery when other treatments aren’t enough


Arthritis pain can hit older runners more than any other cause. Cutting back on strenuous activity can temporarily help with symptoms of pain and swelling. Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition requiring a tiered approach depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Here are some of the more common treatment options for those in Plano TX:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery, in severe cases

Have you been having knee pain while running or performing other activities? Please don’t wait until it gets worse.

Call POSMC today!

To schedule an appointment with one our specialists, contact our scheduling department at 972-250-5700 or request an appointment online.

POSMC is a full-service medical facility specializing in the evaluation and treatment of orthopedic injuries. The practice is led by a group of 12 board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. Contact us today!