ASK THE ORTHOPAEDIC SPORTS MEDICINE EXPERT
Knee pain being caused by jumping, landing
Question: My knees are killing me after doing plyometric (CrossFit-type) exercises. What is going on?
Answer: A week doesn’t pass by without a patient complaining of knee pain after box jumps, burpees or lunge jumps. Most patients complain of an ache behind their kneecap (patella).
What is happening is an overload or stress injury to the protective lining (cartilage) of the patella. These strenuous exercises place an excessive amount of force on the patella. The cushioning cartilage becomes inflamed and irritated, which can lead to swelling, stiffness and pain with kneeling, stairs and exercise. The medical term is chondromalacia of the patella.
The mainstay of treatment is rest to allow for the cartilage to heal itself. Rest means an avoidance of impact loading. Ice and anti-inflammatory medication can help reduce the symptoms. I often find that patients are extremely tight. Stretching the hamstrings, quadriceps and iliotibial band can lead to less pressure being applied to the knee during exercise.
A physical therapist can be helpful in educating and initiating such a program. I often recommend yoga or Pilates for such purposes. If the knee is severely irritated, a one-time cortisone injection may be helpful. Surgery is not indicated.
The hardest part of treatment is convincing our athletes to slow down, modify and cross-train.
About the Author
Dr. David Dare received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, his medical school degree from University of Virginia, his orthopaedic training at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and he spent an extra year of training while completing a fellowship in sports medicine at the #1 ranked Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Read more about Dr. Dare and his role as an Orthopedic Knee Surgeon.
Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic
UNC Rex Medical Office Building
781 Avent Ferry Road, Suite 110
Holly Springs, North Carolina 27540