SOURCE: University of Calgary

University of Calgary

August 05, 2015 10:00 ET

The curious case of Runner's Knee -- What Biomechanics might be able to tell us

University of Calgary study reveals potential new ways to treat one of the most common running injuries

CALGARY, AB--(Marketwired - August 05, 2015) - Whether you are a weekend warrior or a seasoned marathoner, the mere mention of runner's knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), is enough to make any athlete cringe. Characterized by pain around the kneecap or patella, PFPS makes tasks such as walking up or down stairs arduous and painful.

A new study from the University of Calgary suggests that altering the mechanical loading in the knee joint using orthotic insoles may result in significant pain reduction for those suffering from PFPS.

"Our aim with this study was to determine if altered knee joint biomechanics would result in improved symptoms for runners who suffer from physician-diagnosed PFPS," says lead researcher of the study Ryan Lewinson, a PhD student and Vanier Scholar in Biomedical Engineering, a medical student in the Cumming School of Medicine.

The study, which lasted six weeks was made up of twenty seven volunteers who were clinically diagnosed with PFPS. Volunteers were divided into two groups, each given a different type of orthotic for their shoes. These orthotics were designed to alter their knee joint loads while running.

"What we found was that regardless of which orthotic volunteers received, there was a relationship between change in biomechanics induced by the orthotic, and change in pain over the six week period," says Lewinson.

"Specifically, those who experienced large changes to knee loading tended to experience larger reductions in pain, whereas those experiencing just small biomechanical changes tended to only experience small or no reductions in pain."

Although previous studies have shown that orthotic insoles can reduce pain, Lewinson believes they can be fine-tuned to the point of developing custom orthotics based on an individual's characteristics.

"If we can figure out ways of predicting someone's biomechanical response without needing a specialized biomechanics lab, we may one day be able to match the right intervention with the right person to optimize treatment of PFPS on a patient-by-patient basis."

About the University of Calgary
The University of Calgary is a leading Canadian university located in the nation's most enterprising city. The university has a clear strategic direction to become one of Canada's top five research universities by 2016, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.'

For more information, visit ucalgary.ca. Stay up to date with University of Calgary news headlines on Twitter @UCalgary. For details on faculties and how to reach experts go to our media centre at ucalgary.ca/news/media.

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