The knee is a remarkable yet complicated joint and is vulnerable to pain and injury. Inner knee pain can impede our ability to move and carry out the activities we enjoy. Identifying the exact location of pain in the inner knee is the first step toward a diagnosis, which is crucial to an effective treatment plan and a full recovery. This guide will provide information and guidance on the types and causes of inner knee pain and the best treatment for pain on the inner side of the knee. Whether you are young or young at heart, your knees are crucial to your overall health and well being. Read on to learn how to keep them healthy.
Pain on the inner side of the knee often comes on gradually. However, in some cases—particularly if caused by a sudden impact or injury—the onset of pain is immediate.
Medial knee pain is the term most commonly used to describe this type of pain, which can be experienced either as a dull, aching pain, or a sharp pain. Given the importance of the knee joint in our daily lives, the impact of pain can be significant.
Location of Inner Knee Pain
The exact location of inner knee pain can differ depending on the underlying problem.
Lower inner knee pain occurs just below the inside the knee joint. Pain around this area suggests a problem with the tendons—or the nerves around the tendons—which attach to the lower part of the leg.
Inner kneecap pain, on the other hand, is often considered separate from inner knee pain. The term patellofemoral pain syndrome refers to pain in the kneecap and at the front of the knee. Other people refer to this sort of pain as runner’s knee.
Types of Inner Knee Pain
Your inner knee pain could stem from a number of causes or conditions. Here are the most common issues that create pain in the inner knee.
An MCL injury, or medial ligament sprain, is often caused by a sharp twisting of the knee or a direct impact. For this reason, it is commonly experienced by athletes or people who participate in certain sports. It is also possible to sustain such an injury through a fall, meaning that older adults can also be at risk.
A meniscus is a rubbery pad of tissue that cushions a joint and absorbs shock. There are two menisci in the knee: the medial meniscus (on the inner side) and the lateral meniscus (on the outer side). Knee pain on the inner side often indicates damage to the meniscus. In the event of a tear, you will typically experience pain, swelling, and instability.
Arthritis is a catch-all term referring to joint pain or joint disease. Arthritis symptoms range from mild to severe. If you are experiencing inner knee joint pain, speak to your doctor about arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is also known as “wear and tear” or degenerative joint disease. It affects the articular cartilage within our joints, which can impair our movement and cause pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which causes the immune system to attack the body’s joints. The ensuing inflammation causes a thickening of the tissue in the joints. Early diagnosis and treatment is key to managing rheumatoid arthritis, so consult a doctor or rheumatologist as soon as possible.
Synovial Plica Irritation
Pain on the inside of the kneecap could indicate synovial plica irritation or plica syndrome. The synovial plica is a fold of synovial membrane located on the inside of the kneecap. It can become inflamed or irritated following a sudden twist. Synovial plica irritation may occur in conjunction with other knee conditions, including meniscal injuries.
Pes Anserine Bursitis
The bursa is a small fluid-filled sac found in joints throughout the human body. The pes anserine bursa, in the medial side of the knee, may become inflamed, causing inner knee pain. This condition, known as bursitis knee, results in pain, swelling, and stiffness. It often occurs in runners or athletes and can cause inner knee pain when running.
Inner Knee Pain Causes
There are a number of causes of inner knee pain, not all of which are as obvious as a direct blow to the knee. Often, what causes inner knee pain is not easy to identify, particularly when the pain has come on gradually.
A meniscus injury, for example, might happen during a sporting event. However, normal wear and tear of the cartilage can lead to a weakening of the meniscus, particularly as we age.
Among the most common causes of inner knee pain are:
Wear and tear
Poor technique during sports or exercise
Weak leg muscles
A direct impact or injury
Risk Factors for Knee Pain
Certain groups of people are at greater risk of developing knee pain—and inner knee pain, in particular:
Seniors and older adults
People who are overweight
Diagnosing Inner Knee Pain
If you experience consistent pain, speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will ask questions about the pain and other symptoms and will perform a physical examination. He or she may also order an X-ray for more conclusive results.
Inner Knee Pain Symptoms
The exact location of inner knee pain varies from person to person and depends on the underlying condition. The severity of the pain will also vary.
Among the most common symptoms of inner knee pain are:
Pain in the inner side of the knee
Inner knee pain while running
Inner knee pain while walking
Inner knee pain when bending
Although inner knee pain is not always accompanied by swelling, you may have a number of other symptoms, including swelling, discomfort, stiffness, and weakness.
Inner Knee Pain Treatment
After diagnosis, your doctor will advise you on the most suitable inner knee pain treatment. However, there are a number of at-home treatments and best practices you can follow to speed recovery time.
The RICE technique should be used immediately after an impact, injury, or fall. It promotes healing and alleviates pain and swelling:
Rest the joint to keep it protected and to avoid further harm.
Ice the knee with an ice pack. The cold will reduce pain and swelling.
Compress the knee to protect it and further reduce swelling.
Elevate the knee by placing the leg on a cushion while you ice.
Physical therapy can help you reintroduce movements and increase knee mobility. Whatever the underlying cause of the pain, gentle exercises and stretches are an important form of inner knee pain treatment. Physical therapy will increase your strength and range of motion. Your doctor or physical therapist may also suggest gentle balancing exercises. Speak to your physiotherapist about the best rehab program for your injury.
Heel slides are one of the simplest and gentlest range of motion exercises and are especially useful after an MCL injury.
Lie flat on your back, using an exercise or yoga mat. Slowly bend the knee and slide the heel toward you. After you have progressed with this exercise, you may wish to add a strap around the ankle.
Isometric Quad Contraptions
Sitting or lying, extend the leg and place a rolled towel under the knee joint. Engage the quadricep muscles and straighten the leg. Hold the position for a few seconds, release, and repeat.
This exercise is performed while standing—begin by holding onto the back of a chair for balance. Keeping your knees close together, gently raise the heel of one foot. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat.
Knee Sleeves and Braces
Knee braces provide additional support and stability, especially during physical activities such as exercising, walking, or gardening. Each type of knee braces, sleeves, and supports is beneficial for different reasons.
A knee brace supports and stabilizes your knee to prevent further damage. ( See Product )
Knee braces protect and support the knee, while alleviating joint pain. Although knee braces can be used following an injury, they can also be used as a preventive measure. The best knee brace will be adjustable and breathable for all-day comfort. By wearing a comfortable and supportive knee brace, you can gain peace of mind and avoid further injury.
Hinged Knee Braces
Hinged knee braces provide maximum support and stabilization, perfect for severe inner knee pain. (See Product)
Hinged knee braces provide heavy-duty support. The hinges stabilize the knee and prevent hyperextension. They are usually customizable, which allows you to control your knee’s range of motion.
This support and injury prevention make hinged knee braces popular for anyone who has suffered a ligament injury. They also help those suffering with arthritis knee pain or knee cartilage injuries.
Compression knee sleeves reduce swelling and improve circulation to help you manage inner knee pain. ( See Product )
Knee sleeves are used for compression, to increase blood flow and promote healing. Compression is beneficial both during and following physical activity and exercise. Although they provide less support than knee braces, they do minimize range of motion to an extent. Most are made of neoprene and slide easily over the knee.
Patella straps apply targeted compression to the patellar tendon, relieving pain. (See Product )
Patella straps are small and lightweight. They place pressure on the tendon below the knee to spread pressure and alleviate stress on the joint. For those suffering from runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome, a patella strap can ease pain without restricting movement.
Inner knee pain can stop us in our tracks. If you are experiencing pain on the inside of your knee, consult your doctor immediately. Determining the underlying cause of your pain is the first step toward developing an effective treatment plan and getting back to the activities you love.
Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.
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