Do You Have Outside Knee Pain?

Does your knee feel like it’s giving out on you when you move? Does it feel stiff and painful when you take each step? If so, then you may be one of the many people suffering from outside knee pain. Don’t worry, there are ways to help reduce the pain and get back to living life normally. In this article, we’ll explore what outside knee pain is, what causes it, and how to manage it! So let’s get started and find some relief!


Most Commons Causes of Outside Knee Pain

Outside knee pain can be caused by a variety of conditions from overuse to direct trauma. It’s very common among athletes who experience lateral knee injury and can occur with no known trauma as well. Depending on the exact cause, outside knee pain may require only conservative treatment or more aggressive intervention. Let’s take a look at the most common causes of lateral knee pain and recommended treatments for each.

One of the most common causes of lateral knee pain in distance runners is iliotibial band syndrome (ITB). This condition occurs when the fibrous tissue located along the outer part of your shin bone rubs against the other leg, causing inflammation and pain. Treatment typically involves rest, icing, taking anti-inflammatory medications, stretching exercises, changing running shoes, and other footwear modifications. For extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to achieve long-term relief from ITB stress syndrome symptoms.

Patellar tendinitis, another very common cause of outside knee pain, is an inflammation or irritation of the tendons connecting your kneecap to your shin bone (tibia). Pain with this condition can range from mild discomfort when bending your knees to sharp pains that make it difficult to straighten out your leg without assistance. Non-surgical treatment is usually all that’s required to relieve patellar tendinitis, but recovery time can vary based on severity and individual physiological factors like age or weight.

Another possible cause is an anterior cruciate ligament sprain or tear that affects one side of your knee joint more than the other due to direct impact during sports or physical activity. Conservative treatment involves modifying activities, taking over-the-counter medications, and performing physical therapy exercises designed specifically for ACL injuries; however, in some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary for a full recovery.

The best way to determine which type of treatment will give you optimum results is to get a diagnosis from a qualified medical professional who specializes in musculoskeletal conditions like those listed above before beginning any type of treatment regimen for outside knee pain relief

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is one of the more common causes of outside knee pain. It occurs when the thick strip of connective tissue, called the iliotibial band, becomes inflamed from activities involving repetitive motions like running, climbing stairs, or biking. This can happen even in intense circumstances such as long-distance running or sprinting. Pain caused by ITBS usually begins in the outer hip area and moves down to the outer part of your thigh and knee.

The iliotibial band attaches on one end to a muscle near your hip and runs all the way down to your shin bone below your knee joint where it then connects to several muscles and nearby tissue. Activities that create excessive rubbing between the iliotibial band and those underlying structures can cause ITBS. Those at a higher risk of experiencing ITBS include those participating in sports which involve a lot of turning motions such as soccer, basketball, or running on an inclined surface.

ITBS causes not just pain but also stiffness along this outer part of your thigh which can make physical activity uncomfortable due to the limited range of motion at times. Seeking prompt treatment with either conservative treatments or surgical intervention is important to manage, reduce symptoms and prevent further damage to this tendon due to prolonged irritation leading to degeneration.

Lateral Meniscus Tear

Lateral meniscus tear is one of the most common causes of outside knee pain. The lateral meniscus sits on the outer side of your knee joint and is much less resilient than its counterpart, the medial meniscus, which is situated on the inner side. The two rubbery pieces that make up your meniscus act as a cushion to protect the thigh bone from the weight and stress it endures from everyday movement and activities.

When you perform a sudden change in direction — especially when playing sports like football or basketball — you are especially vulnerable to suffering a lateral meniscus tear. Although not always noticeable right away, pain, swelling, and stiffness in your knee may be indicators that you’ve suffered a significant injury. Other symptoms of a lateral meniscus tear include clicking or catching sensations in your knee when you move it and difficulty bearing weight on that leg.

Meniscus tears can usually be confirmed with an MRI scan or arthroscopy procedure to check for tissue damage. Treatment options depend on the severity of the tear, but usually involve rest, ice application, and physical therapy to reduce inflammation and restore the function of the joint. In cases where there is too much damage to repair itself, arthroscopic surgery may be required where part or all of the damaged tissue is removed surgically.

Lateral Collateral Ligament Injury

The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is one of the main ligaments that help support your knee. It runs along the outside of the knee and connects your femur (thighbone) to your fibula (calf bone). An LCL injury occurs when this ligament is damaged, causing pain and swelling on the outer side of the knee. Most LCL injuries are caused by a direct blow to the inside part of the knee, which forces it to bend outward – an unnatural movement that puts stress on the outer aspect of the joint.

Symptoms of an LCL injury include pain along the outer side or back portion of your knee, tenderness in that area, and a feeling like there’s instability within your joint when you move. You may also experience swelling around your entire knee joint after sustaining one.

The LCL is primarily responsible for stabilizing your leg against any outward forces while walking or participating in sports activities. When this ligament becomes injured, it’s usually due to excessive force that’s placed on it by either twisting it beyond its limits or sustaining a direct hit to its outside portion. In severe cases, there may be complete tearing where surgery is required in order to repair the damage done by an LCL injury.

If you think you have sustained an LCL injury, it’s important for you to contact a licensed medical professional immediately for diagnosis and treatment options available for improving symptoms associated with this condition over time.


Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of outside knee pain. Also known as OA, it’s a degenerative condition in which the cartilage covering the ends of bones begins to break down, leading to significant joint pain and stiffness. The knee joint has a special type of cartilage that helps cushion it from impact during movement and limits friction at the joints. When this wears down, it can lead to painful inflammation.

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint but is especially painful in the knees because they have four compartments with differing thicknesses and structures so when one compartment is more significantly damaged than other compartments, it can cause one-sided knee pain that is particularly perceptible as you move around or even just stand in one place for a long time.

Usually, this discomfort will become more severe over time as the disease progresses and affects more areas of the knees than before. Additionally, osteoarthritis typically affects only one side of the body — either both legs or just one — and if it’s limited to affecting only the outer compartment of your knee joint then you likely won’t experience any difficulty with movement but will experience significant pain when weight or pressure are applied to that area.

Lateral Tibial Plateau Fracture

A tibial plateau fracture is a serious medical condition in which the affected bones of the knee are fractured due to serious physical trauma such as a bad fall or a vehicular accident. It typically affects the lateral part, or the outer aspect, of the knee joint located at the top of your tibia (shinbone). If you are experiencing considerable pain in your outer knee, it’s possible that you may have suffered a lateral tibial plateau fracture.

When it comes to treatment, it’s important that you seek medical attention right away so that your doctor can assess and diagnose your injury accurately and provide you with proper treatment. The most common treatment for this type of fracture is realigning and holding bones into their proper positions while they heal.

This may involve using screws, plates, and rods to ensure proper positioning or even surgery if necessary. Physical therapy is typically prescribed along with regular rest, elevation, and ice/heat therapy to help ease pain and swelling around the area.

If left untreated, complications can arise from a lateral tibial plateau fracture such as instability, numbness, and loss of muscle strength all throughout your legs as well as chronic knee pain. In severe cases where there has been nerve damage caused by this injury, surgical removal of damaged nerves may be recommended.

It is important that you follow all instructions given by your doctor to ensure a speedy recovery so make sure to ask plenty of questions regarding any treatment plan before moving forward or consulting other medical professionals for second opinions if necessary.


A knee contusion, or bruise, is a clinical term for a type of trauma to the outer knee, which generally results in lateral knee pain. A contusion can happen from a direct impact on the knee, such as falling down and landing on it or hitting it against an object. It is caused when small blood vessels beneath the skin break because of the force of the impact, leading to swelling of the muscle tissue and bruising on the surface.

The pain usually begins immediately following injury but could take a few hours before full symptoms are realized. Depending on the severity of your knee contusion, it can take a few days or even weeks before you feel relieved from your symptoms.

It’s important to be aware that if you do have swelling in your lateral knee area that’s been resistant over 48 hours, then there could be more serious damage such as ligament tear or bone contusion that requires medical attention.

If you are experiencing pain in your outer knee area and suspect it’s from a contusion injury then make sure to move slowly and reduce further irritation by avoiding strenuous activity for about 72 hours until the time for an assessment with an orthopedic specialist.

As part of treatment for any kind of lower extremity injury, devices such as crutches and splints may need to be utilized until symptoms improve enough that you can resume normal activity where no additional complications arise.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pain on the outside of the knee can be caused by a number of factors, including muscle strain, tendonitis, bursitis, arthritis, iliotibial band syndrome, a fracture, or a ligament injury (such as a tear of the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) or the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)). If the pain persists, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the cause of the pain.

Lateral knee pain is pain that is felt on the outside of the knee joint. It can be caused by a number of factors, including overuse, injury, arthritis, and tendonitis. Treatment depends on the underlying cause and may include rest, icing, physical therapy, medications, or surgery.

There are several possible causes for knee pain when going down stairs. These can include arthritis, a torn meniscus, tendinitis, ligament or cartilage tears, bursitis, or patellar tendonitis. If your knee is painful when going down stairs, it is recommended that you schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause of your pain and get the appropriate treatment.

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Knee pain on the outside of the knee (lateral knee pain) is a fairly common issue for both young athletes and older adults. Lateral knee pain occurs for many reasons, including repeat injuries to the same area, running on uneven terrain, or running tracks with too much stress on one side of the body. Proper treatment is essential for recovery and prevents future injury or discomfort.

Fortunately, several treatments may be effective in relieving symptoms. Such treatments can include rest, exercise to stretch and strengthen sore muscles, ice or warm packs to reduce swelling, physical therapy to help improve strength and flexibility in the joint, medications to reduce inflammation and stiffness, orthotic devices like braces to support your feet while walking or running, and injections of steroid medications directly into your knee joint if needed. Be sure to discuss these options with a healthcare professional before taking any action on your own.

It’s especially helpful to avoid running on surfaces that are traditionally more stressful on the knees such as hills or camber roads. Choose flat surfaces such as roads when available and use appropriate shoes with arch support if necessary. Ultimately visiting an orthopedic surgeon or physiotherapist may help identify any other structural issues that could be causing your lateral knee pain; exposing your knee injuries to proper treatment.

Spine Institute NY