Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Runner’s Knee by Howard Marans MD

Runner’s knee is a widely used term used to describe pain in front of the knee. Runner’s knee does affect runners more than others inflicted with the ailment. The occurrence can affect any athlete who also jumps or cycles as part of their chosen sport. The continuous knee bending creates runner’s knee. The treatment options for runner’s knee will vary with the degree of injury.


The symptoms of runner’s knee will vary with each person. Consulting a health care professional will help determine if the symptoms are caused by the ailment.

  • Pain behind the knee cap especially in the joint area.
  • Experiencing pain from simple activities including walking, kneeling, sitting, and standing. The pressure put on the knee may cause an increase in pain.
  • The pain increases when walking down a set of stairs.
  • The knee area is swollen.
  • A popping sound may be experienced.

Non-Surgical Treatments

Non-surgical treatment options for runner’s knee can be used for patients who do not have severe damage.

  • Rest should be a priority. Try to avoid putting too much pressure or weight on the injured knee.
  • Apply ice packs to help reduce the swelling. The ice packs should be applied in 20 minute intervals every three hours unless otherwise directed by a health care professional. The ice pack method can be used until the pain is gone.
  • Apply compression bandages to the knee area to give extra support while carrying daily activities.
  • Keep the knee elevated to help reduce the swelling. A patient may want to prop the knee up with an extra pillow while resting. The elevation helps in the healing method as the patient keeps the knee still.
  • Use anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce the pain and swelling. In some cases an over the counter pain pill may not be strong enough, a doctor may prescribed a higher dosage to help ease the symptoms.
  • Physical therapy exercises may be prescribed to help with stretching and strengthening the knee area.

Surgical Options

Surgical treatment options for runner’s knee are rarely needed. In most situations, the non-surgical methods will allow the knee to return to normal. If the case is severe, surgery can be discussed with an orthopedic specialist.

  • Arthroscopy may be used to remove damaged cartilage. The debridement can help in providing pain relief.
  • Lateral release can also be done with arthroscopy, allowing the tissue to loosen in the knee region.
  • Tibial tubercle transfer is used to realign the knee cap. The surgery will leave a larger incision scar due to the traditional approach of surgery.


Prevention may be the best way to avoid the negative effects of runner’s knee.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid running on rigid surfaces that may increase the impact to the knee.
  • Use extra support by putting insets in shoes and wearing a knee brace when exercising.
  • When changing a workout to a higher level of intensity, go slowly to avoid putting extra strain on the knee.

Treatment options for runner’s knee should be discussed with an experienced professional. Accepting PPO, and the willing to work with other insurance companies, Dr. Howard Marans will work with a patient to achieve an optimal outcome for the effects of runner’s knee. Please click below to schedule your consultation or call us at 714.979.8981.


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