Dr Tan Chyn Hong answered The Straits Times reader’s question on his knee pain. The 40-year-old is a regular runner who runs three times a week. His knees had started to hurt after a few weeks of running on more hilly terrain.
When he spoke to his family doctor, he was advised to stop running. However, he really enjoys running and does not wish to cease running. He asked Dr Tan whether he could do anything to stop the pain and continue running regularly.
Dr Tan advises him to first find out the cause of the knee pain. To stop running altogether is not the solution, as it is possible to treat the cause of the pain and be able to continue an active lifestyle.
He should start slow and gradually build up the intensity of his run on the hilly terrain. As running on hilly terrain more physically demanding, doing too much too soon will likely cause knee pain and problems. It is also important to start with warm-up like running on flat ground and end with cool-down stretches.
He could be suffering from runner’s knee, which is caused by irritation or softening of the cartilage under kneecap. The runner’s knee pain can be first treated conservatively with rest with and the use of ice and compressive bandage on any swelling.
However, if the knee pain does not recover after three weeks he will need to consult a doctor for thorough examination with X-rays or MRI scans. The doctor will then better advise him on appropriate treatment options, which in most cases of runner’s knee need not be surgery.