Runners occasionally experience pain during and after a run. Most of the time, minor discomforts caused by pulled muscles or ligaments can be treated with ice and rest. Severe or sudden pain may signal a serious injury that needs immediate intervention to avoid additional damage. Some common running injuries, causes and treatments include the following:
The plantar fascia is a band of tissue on the bottom of your foot that connects your toes to your heel bone. If the fascia is stretched tight over a period of time, as can happen with runners, small tears can erupt, resulting in pain and inflammation. The primary symptom is stabbing pain on the heel of the foot, which may ease after movement. Without treatment, the injury could worsen and become chronic.
Treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition. Over-the-counter pain relievers, physical therapy, and steroid shots are commonly given.
Injury to the Achilles tendon often happens with sudden movement such as sprinting. This is a long tendon, running from the heel to the calf muscles. It is easily damaged, resulting in swelling or tearing.
Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis include difficulty in extending the foot, and pain on the back of the foot and above the heel. The initial symptom might be sharp, acute pain or it may start gradually and worsen. Treatment includes rest, ice, elevation, stretching, and compression of the lower leg. In severe cases, surgery might be necessary.
The menisci are rubbery cartilage located in the knee. They absorb shock and steady the knee. Tears in the meniscus can damage this cartilage, causing knee pain and difficult movement. The size and number of tears determine prognosis and course of action. With small and medium tears, there may be minimal pain, and this injury often resolves itself within a few weeks, although twisting and pulling can cause a recurrence. Larger tears could cause pieces of the meniscus to break loose, resulting in severe pain, swelling, inability to straighten the leg, the knee locking up, or suddenly giving out. Treatment includes rest, ice, elevation, physical therapy, and compression. Serious injuries might be treated through surgery to sew the tear, remove the injured part of the meniscus, or take out the entire cartilage.
Any pain while running is a symptom that something has gone wrong. Runners should be aware of pain that could indicate serious injuries and seek medical treatment to avoid lasting damage.
Informational credit to Noyes Knee Institute.