Sports Medicine/Knee Pain


I am a 40 year old woman who has never been a runner, but has decided to do a 5K in August !  I have always been an avid walker (at least 2 1/2 miles 4-5 times a week) along with doing lunges, chair squats, etc to keep my legs somewhat toned.  Therefore, when I started running I figured I would have a head start on knee strength.  I started the Couch to 5K about 5 weeks ago and started off well, but by the 2nd week I started to have knee pain when I ran, but it would eventually work its way out during my run.  I decided to get a knee brace to wear on the knee that bothered me the most.  After a couple weeks of that I ran without it and had no pain during my runs.  However, hours after a run the cramping and achiness would begin.  Last night it was very achy and I believe a little swollen (I did not run yesterday) and it seemed when I moved my knee back and forth it felt very warm inside my knee cap ??  It is impossible for me to bend down with my knees and going down stairs is the worst.  Walking doesn't seem to bother it except maybe right when I get up from sitting a period of time....then it works its way out.  Before I continue on my training I was hoping for some guidance.  I hate to run to my doctor ...seeing that I am thinking its just because I started running, something I never do and its just going to take some time for my old knees to get used to it.  But my question is how do I know if its that or if I possibly have injured something..ligament, tendon, etc ???  My thinking is if I injured something like that I would be in alot of pain all the time and it would be impossible for me to run at all, much less walk !  Maybe arthritis ????  Any information would be greatly appreciated !!

Hi Becky,

Good for you for deciding to try running, but sorry to hear you are experiencing some discomfot.  It's a bit hard to know how to guide you without examining you, but to answer your questions, I would be concerned about an injury to your cartilage if the pain persists in one area.  "Achiness" that comes and goes might be due to general irritation and inflammation in your knees from your joints adjusting to the impact and new activity. Arthritis is the wearing down of the smooth, hard cartilage that coats the end of your bones, and I think you likely do not have that.

I would suggest adding stretching after running into your routine.  You may also benefit from cross training to strengthen the muscles around your knee joint, which can help take some of the impact off your knees. Some over the counter anti-inflammatories might also help, as might icing your knees after a workout to help decrease any irritation you may develop and experience.

Good luck and keep up the good work!

Sports Medicine

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Hope T. Horton, RN, BSN


Questions related to knee, shoulder, hip and ankle injuries, including treatment options and what is involved in recovery from injuries including surgical and non surgical interventions.


I an a registered nurse and have worked in orthopaedics and sports medicine for over twenty years (since 1993).

Graduated summa cum laude as the valedictorian from Regis University in Denver, CO with my BSN. Prior to that I was an EMT working in emergency rooms in Vail, CO and Denver, CO as well as on an ambulance in Vail, CO.

Awards and Honors
Elected Valedictorian of my class and awarded to Regent Award for excellence in academics. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

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