Health & Wellbeing

New research suggests botox could be the cure for LPOS knee

Man in pain with a knee injury LPOS

Common in professional and amateur runners, cyclists, gym goers and active people, you certainly don’t need to be a marathon runner to have been affected by a knee injury, or lateral patellofemoral overload syndrome (LPOS), at some point in your training life. 

Symptoms of LPOS include a sharp localised pain in the knee cap, inflammation, and pain when walking down slopes or stairs. This can be triggered by the physical activity, such as running or cycling, aswell as being irritated by a long period of sitting. The pain can also be progressive, building up from several days of exercise and resulting in an intense pain that takes longer to recover from. 

Who is affected by LPOS knee? 

According to the team at Imperial College London (ICL) and researchers from Fortius Clinic, one in five active women and one in eight active men suffer from this condition. a knee injury such as LPOS can be a barrier to progress, in the same way that delayed onset muscle syndrome affects your ability to workout at the same intensity, those suffering may have to reduce training, or stop altogether due to the discomfort. 

LPOS is usually treated by physiotherapy, pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, steroid injections and in some cases, even surgery. However, 80% of patients claimed that they continued to experience ongoing symptoms after undergoing conventional treatment methods, and consequently 74% had to reduce their activity levels because of the pain, data by ICL found.   

However, ICL has revealed a unique remedy for runner’s knee that is more common among beauty therapists than physiotherapists – Botox. The study ran a trial involving 45 patients who all experienced pain in the front and side of the knee joint. They injected Dysport, a type of botulinum toxin, into a muscle under ultrasound guidance, at the front and outside of their hip, this treatment was followed by personalised physiotherapy sessions. The results speak for themselves, as 69% of patients did not need any further medical treatment and remained completely pain free when followed up five years later. 

Knee injuries are usually a consequence of weak glute muscles, which when inactive place greater stress on the lower portion of your body, including the knees. Typically, physiotherapists try to help patients strengthen their glutes to resolve the pain, in this study they noticed that all of the patients overused their tensor fascia lata muscle in their hip, rather than their gluteal muscles. This meant the tensor fascia lata muscle was over-compensating during exercise, therefore causing the pain. The researchers tried to combat this by injecting the botox into the front of every patient’s hip, to encourage those muscles to relax so the gluteal muscles will be used more.

Sam Church, co-author and consultant knee surgeon from Fortius clinic commented on the findings: 

“This research is a really exciting step forward in the management of a very common cause of knee pain in athletes. Our results show that botulinum toxin can provide better and longer lasting pain relief than the current, conventional alternatives.”

Of course the results of this study need further analysis from the team, in the future they will be analysing muscle activity pre and post Dysport injections to discover the mechanisms at work. With this in mind, the findings still suggest a hugely exciting outcome which could transform the sports and fitness industries in future.