Have you ever experienced a dull ache on the inside of your knee, and had no idea why? You’re not alone! This mysterious knee pain has stumped plenty of people. Let’s explore its causes and treatments together, so we can all find relief.
What Are the Common Causes of Inner Knee Pain?
Inner knee pain is a discomfort most often felt on the inside part of the knee joint – known as the medial area. It can be experienced as a sharp pain, or even a dull, robust ache. It can be caused by either an existing injury or an ongoing medical condition and is common in both adults and children, although it is more commonly seen in athletes due to their active lifestyle.
A thorough medical history and physical examination are critical for assessing inner knee pain. Depending on your diagnosis and the severity of your symptoms, additional testing may be necessary such as X-rays, MRI or CT scans to identify any fractures, tissue tears, or bone lesions that may have developed over time due to repetitive injury.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) states some of the most common causes of inner knee pain include Patellar Subluxation – where the kneecap slips out of its normal groove; Patellar Tendonitis – the tendon that connects your kneecap to your shinbone becomes inflamed; Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury – where this particular ligament become strained; and Osgood-Schlatter Disease – inflammation near growth plates in children. Furthermore, chronic medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) fatigue or an underlying cartilage tear can also be at fault for inner knee pain in adults.
When experiencing unexplained inner knee pain, seeking medical advice from professionals such as Doctors of Physical Therapy will ensure a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for a safe return to activities that do not increase your risk for re-injury.
Knee contusions, also known as bruises, can be caused by a direct blow to the knee from a blunt object. This can often result in inner knee pain. The most common symptom is pain and stiffness. Additionally, there may be swelling, bruising and even difficulty moving the joint depending on the severity of the injury; for example with more severe contusions, it is common for there to be painful inflammation inside of the knee.
Knee contusions are not just limited to the inner knee pain – another symptom is the tenderness of the tibia (knee bone) when touched. It’s important to note that if your knee contusion was due to a direct blow from a blunt object, there may be internal damage as well as external trauma and you should seek medical attention if your symptoms do not subside in several days or worsen over time.
If you are experiencing severe inner knee pain after an impact and it does not seem to improve or worsen over time, seeking medical attention is highly recommended. An X-ray or MRI may allow further examinations in order to properly diagnose your condition so appropriate treatments can be implemented based on individual needs.
Recommended rehabilitation exercises as well as preemptive measures such as wearing protective padding while activities are also generally prescribed by medical professionals in order to prevent injuries from reoccurring and ensure proper healing takes place.
Medial Plica Irritation
Medial plicae are small folds along the joint lining of the inner knee which can become aggravated and painful due to overuse or injury. Plica syndrome occurs when one or more of these folds becomes inflamed, causing pain and tenderness around the inner knee.
Symptoms of medial plica irritation typically include inner knee pain during extension, flexion, and rotation movements as well as progressing difficulty in moving the knee with stiffness and swelling around the joint. Pain can become increased from bowing activities or mountaineer movements and most complaints occur from athletes that are involved in running sports.
If you believe you have medial plicae irritation, it’s important to stop any activities that worsen your symptoms while a proper diagnosis is established. Treatment will usually include rest, ice, compression, and elevation as well as targeted physical therapy exercises to reduce pain and tension on the fold itself. In cases where a plica has thickened, swelling remains severe or there has been an associated tear of other structures in the area surgical treatment may be required for repair.
Surgical treatment involves removing inflammation within the fold as well as fraying from overuse – either keyhole surgery (arthroscopically) or open surgery tracking with recovery time depending on the type/severity of injury present or the extent of reconstruction carried out.
Conservatively up to 12 weeks of rehabilitation support is required to enable a return to activity safely and successfully once all inflammation has been removed from inside those folds lining your inner knee for long-term reduction in symptoms presented.
Pes Anserine Bursitis
Pes anserine bursitis is a common cause of pain on the inside of the knee. It is caused by inflammation at the site where the tendons attach to a part of the tibia called Gerdy’s tubercle. It can be found in athletes and those who participate in running and cutting sports such as soccer, basketball, etc. The term “pes anserine” literally means “goosefoot,” referring to where the four tendons from the lower leg attach.
Besides injury resulting from sports activities, there are several causes for this condition. These include overuse injuries, osteoarthritis (OA), tears of medial meniscus Cartilage, and kneeling on hard surfaces for extended periods of time. Orthopedic surgeons at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons identify that several bursae may be involved – besides Pes Anserine Bursitis these include Prepatellar, iliotibial band, and Infrapatellar bursae.
Additional conditions must also be ruled out prior to making a diagnosis such as MCL sprains, tears of thigh muscles, or a joint effusion with extra fluid in your joint sacs.
A controlled physical exam and imaging studies can help determine what is contributing to your knee pain on the inside portion called pes Anserine Bursitis which can lead to effective treatment and relief from pain. Treatment usually involves rest ice packs activity modifications medications physical therapy exercises topical analgesics steroid injections among other interventions recommended by your doctor or orthopedic surgeon.
Medial Meniscus Injury
Getting sharp pain on the inside of your knee can be an indication of a medial meniscus injury. The medial meniscus is a structure that sits between the shin bones, or tibias, in the knee joint. It functions as a cushion and shock absorber between these bones. When you have an injury or tear to your meniscus, you may experience inflammation, instability, and sharp pains on the inside of your knee.
Medial meniscus tears are referred to either as acute tears or degenerative tears. Acute tears occur from sudden twisting or rotation of the knee joint during athletic activities. On the other hand, degenerative tears happen over time due to wear and tear from chronic strain imbalances in movements around the knee joint due to either the aging process or incorrect posture during everyday activities that lead to muscle tension.
Regardless of whether it’s an acute tear or a degenerative one, there are three major types of medial meniscus injuries that can occur: degeneration without a tear, partial thickness tear (bucket handle), and full thickness tear (flap).
Depending on which type of injury you have will depend on what kind of treatment plan is prescribed by your medical provider – typically starting with conservative treatments before opting for surgical procedures if necessary.
If left untreated both acute and degenerative meniscal tears can result in long-term pain and functional limitations when performing certain athletic activities that involve relaxed knees placed under load such as jumping and sprinting.
Medial Collateral Ligament (Mcl) Injury
The Medial Collateral Ligament, or MCL, is a band of tissue that runs along the outer side of the knee and provides vital stability to the joint. It can be injured from collision sports, falls, or sudden twists of the knee. If you’re experiencing pain on the inside of your knee, particularly with sharp pain during activity or impact, it may be an indication of a ruptured MCL injury.
MCL injuries occur when the ligament is stretched beyond its normal limits when twisting or being struck with direct contact. They usually heal on their own if given enough time, however, symptoms might warrant further medical observation depending on severity:
- Sharp pain on the inner side of the knee
- Swelling or tenderness around the outer arch
- Pain in the inner thigh area with walking or running
- Reduced range of motion
Depending on the severity and frequency/ location of pain in relation to internal structures you may need to receive treatment such as physical therapy to regain strength balance and movement capabilities:
- Strengthen surrounding muscles
- Exercises to Improve range of motion and mobility in the knee joint
If these treatments do not result in improvement after a period of time an MRI may be recommended for further diagnosis to ensure no further damage. An athlete thinking about returning to sports activities must understand that even after a successful healing process can take up several months prior to being able to return at full capability.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints of your body. The inner knee joint is commonly affected by the symptomatic pain associated with RA, which can range from mild to severe and can persist even after RA has been treated.
RA causes inflammation of the joints, as well as stiffness, pain, and swelling. It’s caused by an overactive immune response which results in inflammation of nearby tissues and organs, such as cartilage and tendons.
This damages the inner knee joint which results in pain in the area. A person suffering from RA may experience a range of symptoms, including but not limited to:
- Swelling inside or outside of your knees
- Stiffness when moving or walking
- Pain upon movement or weight-bearing activities
- Difficulty bending or straightening your legs
- Loss of muscle strength in the area
Additionally, a person with RA may experience other symptoms like fatigue, fever, rashes, and discoid lupus. If you are experiencing pain inside your knees accompanied by any other symptoms listed here it is important to seek medical attention from a qualified healthcare professional who specializes in this condition so that a proper diagnosis and treatment plan can be created for you.
Pain on the inside of the knee can be indicative of many health issues, but osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease that often presents with inner knee pain and is more common in older adults. Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in joints that can lead to bone rubbing on bone, which causes pain and inflammation, leading to further deterioration.
Oftentimes, high-impact activities or activities involving repetitive motion can increase the risk of developing OA due to excessive wear and tear on joint surfaces. Older individuals are more susceptible to developing OA due to changes in the mobility of bones and weak musculature as well as thinning cartilage that occurs naturally with aging. In addition, certain levels of obesity can lead to an increased risk for development as well.
When diagnosing inner knee pain related to osteoarthritis, primary care physicians may recommend imaging such as X-Rays or other scans to rule out other conditions such as patellofemoral syndrome or medial meniscus tears. Treatment options vary depending on the severity of symptoms; exercise, physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, and weight management may help reduce pain in mild cases.
However, if symptoms persist despite these interventions then medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroid injections/supplements may be recommended for more severe cases. If caught early enough surgery intervention may be required for some patients in order to prevent further joint damage caused by advanced stages of OA.
Treating Inner Knee Pain
When it comes to knee pain, most of us think about the outside and front of the knee. But did you know that pain on the inside of your knee is actually relatively common? The inside of your knee (medial side), where your thighbone meets your shinbone (the tibiofemoral joint) can get hurt just as easily as other parts of your knee. In many cases, this type of inner knee pain can be treated without needing surgery, but it’s important to identify the cause so that you can get appropriate treatment for long-term recovery.
The most common causes of inner knee pain are patellar tendonitis (pain around the kneecap) and a tear in the medial collateral ligament or MCL. This ligament runs from top to bottom along the outside edge of the tibiofemoral joint and serves to support and stabilize it during movement.
It is also subject to wear and tears over time from overuse or age-related wear and tear on the cartilage around it. A torn MCL often causes inner knee pain when you bend or straighten your leg due to tension being placed on the weakened ligament during these movements.
Fortunately, treating inner knee pain usually involves one or more fairly simple treatment methods such as rest, compression wrapping, ice therapy, activity modification, strengthening exercises, and stretching exercises. If these don’t work after a few weeks, more serious or more involved treatment options may need to be considered such as corticosteroid injections into soft tissues around the site of injury, shockwave therapy, or surgery if more extreme cases.
It is also possible that other conditions such as arthritis may be contributing to your inner knee pain which would require different treatments than a typical acute knee injury like a torn MCL or tendonitis.
No matter what type of underlying condition is causing your inner knee pain though make sure that you discuss all available treatment options with an orthopedic doctor before deciding which one is best for you so that you can get back to living life without troublesome discomfort on both sides of this important joint!
Frequently Asked Questions
Pain in the inside of the knee may be due to an injury or condition such as a torn meniscus, a ligament injury, bursitis, tendinitis, or arthritis. It is best to have your knee evaluated by a medical professional to determine the cause of the pain.
If your knee pain is severe and does not improve with rest or physical therapy, you should see a doctor for an evaluation. Additionally, if the pain is accompanied by swelling, redness, warmth, or severe stiffness, these could be signs of a more serious underlying condition.
- Meniscus tear
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome
- Baker’s cyst
- Iliotibial band syndrome
- Stress fractures
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Once you have visited a physical therapist and had your injury assessed they will be able to provide you with the most effective exercises for your situation and also offer advice on useful lifestyle changes. Generally speaking, whatever the cause of your knee discomfort may be, strengthening the muscles that support it is usually beneficial and can play a key role in resolving the issue.
To keep your knees in good condition, it is important to do some form of exercise that builds up strength around them such as swimming or gentle jogging. It is important not to overexert yourself if you have bad knees; avoid running straight up hills, standing too long, and using any leg extension machines in gyms.
An elliptical machine can be an effective workout choice for someone with inner knee pain but always speak to your doctor or physical therapist about what exercises are most suitable for you.
By following some simple lifestyle tips as well as performing the helpful exercises recommended by a professional, those who suffer from pain on the inside of their knee should find that any symptoms are alleviated significantly over time. If any persistent pain lingers after trying lifestyle changes or exercise then orthopedic surgery may be necessary but this should only happen in extreme cases and always be determined under medical supervision.
Alan Walker is an author, researcher, and contributing writer at Spine Institute NY. He is a typical introvert, coffee fanatic, and freelancer.”