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Runner's Knee vs. Osteoarthritis: What Is The Difference?

Runner's Knee vs. Osteoarthritis: What Is The Difference?

Experiencing an aching knee is common and is not usually an indication of anything serious. Knee pain is often associated with ageing, repeated stress on the knee, or injury. It can ordinarily be treated at home and may improve after a couple of days. However, if the pain in your knee does not go away after a few days and exacerbates instead, you may be suffering from a more serious condition.

Among the most common causes of persistent knee pain are runner’s knee and osteoarthritis. It is important to understand the difference between these two conditions so that you can make appropriate lifestyle adjustments and undergo the most suitable treatment for musculoskeletal knee pain in Singapore. If you think you are suffering from either of these conditions, read on as this article discusses what a runner’s knee and osteoarthritis are and their usual treatments.

What is Runner’s Knee?

Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral syndrome, is the term used to refer to the pain that a person experiences at the front of their kneecap. As its name implies, it is common in those who play sports, but athletes are not the only ones who can suffer from this condition. Oftentimes, a runner’s knee occurs when you use your knees too much, and it results in your kneecap getting out of the line and not moving the way it must in the gouge on top of your thighbone.

As a consequence, the cartilage that normally helps your bones to move against each other smoothly starts to wear away and causes pain. Here are some of the most common indications that you suffer from runner’s knee:

- A dull pain felt at the front of your knee

- Knee pain while you jump, squat, or climb the stairs

- Knee pain after sitting for long hours

- Sounds of a “crackle” or “pop” when you get up from sitting or use the stairs

Runner’s Knee Treatment

Getting rid of a runner’s knee does not usually involve complex treatments. Sometimes, this pain condition can be resolved by doing the simple “RICE” method, which refers to the following:

- Rest – Avoid putting weight or pressure on your knee that hurts.

- Ice – Place cold packs on the affected knee multiple times a day for at least 20 minutes each time. Do not place ice on your skin directly.

- Compression – Gently wrap the affected knee in an elastic bandage while leaving a hole around the kneecap. This can help improve swelling.

- Elevation – While resting, have your knee raised above your heart as frequently as you can.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that can occur in any joint in your body, but it is specifically common in your knee. It is the “wear and tear” type of arthritis that typically impacts people over 50 years of age. It can develop slowly and usually hurts more over time. When you have osteoarthritis, the cartilage wears away in your knee joint, and your bones rub against each other just like with a runner’s knee. This is then what causes the pain.

Having osteoarthritis can cause your knee to feel stiff and swollen, and you may find it difficult to bend or straighten it. The pain is usually worse in the morning or during the rainy season. Here are some common signs that you have osteoarthritis in your knee:

- Stiffness and swelling

- Difficulty straightening or bending your knee

- Knee pain that gets worse in the morning or during the rainy season

- Weakness in the affected knee

- The affected knee may buckle

Osteoarthritis Treatment

At present, there is still no cure for arthritis. Nonetheless, there are some things you can do to ease the pain and make it easier to get around. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to strengthen your leg muscles and improve your flexibility. Putting ice or heat on your knee as well as wearing bandages for support may also help. Lifestyle changes, such as climbing the stairs less, cycling, or swimming, are also highly advised.

In some instances, doctors may also suggest the taking of over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribe stronger medications like steroids and NSAIDs to help with the pain and inflammation. If none of these methods work, your doctor may talk to you about the possibility of steroid injections in your knee or knee surgery.


Runner’s knee and osteoarthritis share a common symptom – severe pain in the knee. Nonetheless, there are several factors that make these conditions different from each other, and knowing them will enable you to manage your pain and discomfort better. To further ensure the effectiveness of your pain treatment, it is best to consult with your doctor so that you can properly diagnose what is causing your knee pain and enable yourself to repair the area with the most suitable treatment methods.

For the most extensive and effective musculoskeletal knee pain treatment, Affinity Pain Clinic is the expert you can truly trust! We are a reliable pain management specialist that offers a plethora of premium treatments, including knee pain treatment, nerve pain treatment, lower back pain treatment, and elbow pain treatment in Singapore. For athletes or those with active lifestyles, we are also a reputable expert when it comes to sports injury management in Singapore.

If you have any enquiries or are looking to book an appointment, do not hesitate to reach out to us by filling out the contact form here.


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