Experiencing knee pain is to be expected. In fact it’s very common for injuries to occur in the knee area from overuse during cycling. Below are 4 common knee injuries for cyclists:
- Patellofemoral Syndrome,
- Medial Plica Syndrome,
- Patellar and Quandriceps Tendinitis,
- Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome.
Most of these cause pain around the kneecap area but the iliotibial band friction syndrome causes outer knee pain. Overall good solutions to these problems include shoes implants, wedges beneath the shoes, and cleat positions to prevent injuries from occurring.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
What is it? This is the experience of pain that occurs in front of the knee. Sometimes it is caused by the gradual wearing down, softening, and toughening of the cartilage underneath the kneecap.
What causes it? Overusing the knee, injury, excess weight or pressure, having patellar tracking disorder, not having the kneecap aligned the right way, or any significant changes under the kneecap.
What are the symptoms? Look for signs of pain when sitting with knees bent, squatting, jumping, using the stairs. Pay attention to the sensations you experience in the knee area. It is common to have popping, or grinding sensations when moving them. The knees can even buckle and stop supporting you out of nowhere.
What are the treatments? Be careful to not create further stress; instead, focus on giving your knees a break:
- Avoid applying extended periods of pressure on the knees. Try not to sit, or squat too long or at all, if possible. In general avoid any knee exercises.
- Try NSAID drugs which is said to relieve some of the pain. Naproxen, or ibuprofen are great non-prescription drugs that help lighten the stiffness and alleviate the pain.
- Make sure to have a good amount of sleep to aid in relaxation and healing.
- Regular ice applied to the area will help numb the pain and help the area heal faster. A combination of hot and cold packs might help too.
- Physical therapy exercises that focus on stretching can help lessen the overwhelming tension and stiffness.
Medial Plica Syndrome
What is it? This is irritation mainly in the front knee. The problem is that the tight hamstrings causes the need to increase the force needed to extend the knee. This leads to irritation.
What causes it? Most people experience this due to partaking in strenuous exercise or activity such as cycling that requires constant flexing, and the extension of the knee which does a lot to cause irritation in the patellofemoral joint.
What are the symptoms? Pain is felt in the font of the knees and towards the middle. They have episodes of crackling noises from the knee, and moments when the joints lock during activity.
What are the treatments? A lot of times patients will receive a guided rehabilitation program that focus on creating strength within the quadriceps muscles.
- Exercises can include straight leg raises, leg presses, and mini squats. Maybe a light walking program as well or swimming. The idea is to slowly increase strength over time.
- Keep in mind to keep the hamstrings stretched to prevent any more stress to continue.
- If therapy is not working than an intra articular injection might be in order to quiet down the symptoms. This is to make involvement with the therapy program possible and easier.
Patellar and Quandriceps Tendinitis
What is it? Jumper’s knees which is also known as patellar tendonitis is an inflammation or injury to the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shin bone.
What causes it? Due to constant jumping, or movement, the directional change can cause wear tears, and injury. The overusing can cause tissue damage and irritation. Ultimately it gets worse and worse over time and can eventually require surgery. This is why early detection and treatment is vital.
What are the symptoms? This can include experiences of pain below the kneecap, or directly over the tendon, knee stiffness while performing activities such as jumping and squatting, quadriceps muscle pain, weakness of legs and or calves. Symptoms may also include feelings of warmth, tenderness, and swelling in the lower knee, as well as difficulty keeping balance.
What are the treatments? For the less serious cases of jumper’s knee that don’t require surgery there are great options to treat the pain.
- Resting from any activity will give the knees time to heal properly.
- Icing always helps reduce pain and swelling.
- A good idea might be to have knee support like a strap. This is a great option and tool to help minimalize the pain and reduce the stress. This helps avoid having to deal with the strained muscles.
- Using a pillow under the leg when needed can help even out the flow of blood and also decrease the strain of the knee.
- Ibuprofen is a medication that is off the counter that aid in getting rid of inflammation.
- Having regular message therapy helps increase blood and air circulation. It also helps the muscles become less tense and more loosened, making movement easier.
- Rehabilitation programs that focus on building up quadriceps and calf muscles.
- Certain injections can also allow for certain nerves to become less reactive and can reduce inflammation.
Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome
What is it? This type of knee injury involves pain in the medial epicondyle of the femur. It is a bony protrusion that is found on the lateral femoral epicondyle.
What causes it? This is usually caused by vigorous activities that can include cycling, hiking, and intense running. Overusing and having excessive pressure being applied to the area causes inflammation and general pain.
What are the symptoms? The main symptom is patients experience pain between the hip and knees that worsen with activity.
What are the treatments? These treatments help aid in relieving some of the pain of the injury.
- Getting rest and taking a break as much as possible from activity.
- Putting some ice on the injury.
- Stretching the muscles in distress especially if it targets the iliotibial band.
- Using anti-inflammatory medicines such as Ibuprofen