University of Montana Professor Authors Guidelines on Treating Runner’s Knee

An assistant professor at the University of Montana (UM), Richard Willy, has authored a paper that provides new guidelines for treating patellofemoral pain (PFP), more commonly known as “runner’s knee.” The recommendations were published this month in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, the official scientific journal of the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy.

Runner’s knee affects one in four of the general population annually, with occurrences suggesting that women are twice as susceptible to runner’s knee as men. The pain usually presents at the front of the knee, under and around the kneecap. Prof. Willy’s paper details that exercise therapy – especially hip and knee strengthening treatments prescribed by a physical therapist – is the optimal recovery strategy for people living with runner’s knee.


This Clinical Practice Guideline aims to enhance the quality and standardization of care provided to patients with knee pain while also providing reimbursement guidelines for insurance companies. Key takeaways from the Clinical Practice Guideline include:

  • An exercise program that gradually increases activities such as running, exercise classes, sports or walking, is the best way to prevent PFP.
  • Adolescent athletes who specialize in a single sport are at 28% greater risk of PFP than athletes who participate in a variety of sports.
  • An important way to reduce the risk of PFP in military populations is maximizing leg strength, particularly the thigh muscles.
  • Pain does not always mean there is damage to the knee.

“While it might be tempting to seek quick fixes for knee pain, there is no evidence that non-active treatments alone, such as electrical stimulation, lumbar manipulations, ultrasound or dry needling, help persons with PFP,” said Prof. Willy, an assistant professor in UM’s School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences. in a press release. “Persons with PFP should seek clinicians who use exercise therapy for the treatment of this injury.”