About Inner Knee Pain
Experiencing knee pain has become very common nowadays, with people constantly running around from one place to the other and living stressful lives. However, persisting knee pain can also be a symptom of some knee injuries or conditions, especially if the pain is in the inside of the knee. The inside of the knee is known as the medial compartment or the medial knee. It is the area that is the closest to your other knee. Inner knee pain usually happens because of damage or deterioration of the cartilage, or it can also occur after a sports injury or some type of trauma to the knee. Since the knee is one of the largest and the most complex joints in the body, it is easily injured. Here are some of the common causes of inner knee pain and what you can do about it.
What are the Causes of Inner Knee Pain?
There can be numerous causes of inner knee pain. While many of them can be due to an injury or trauma, some of the reasons can also be due to an underlying health condition. Some of the most common incidents that can cause knee injuries and inner knee pain include sports injuries falls, or increased activity that overexerts the knee joint.
Older adults who are over the age of 60 are most at risk of experiencing knee injuries and knee pain. However, even children and adolescents can experience inner knee pain. According to research by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the most common causes of inner knee pain in children include:(1)
- Jumper’s Knee or Patellar Tendonitis(2, 3)
- Patellar Subluxation(4, 5)
- Osgood-Schlatter Disease(6, 7, 8)
Let us take a look at the most common causes of inner knee pain.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of degenerative tissue disease that causes the breakdown of the cartilage. This causes the bones in the joints to grind against each other, which leads to damage and erosion of the bones. If you experience inner knee pain when you put pressure on your knee joint, such as when climbing up and down the stairs, walking, or sitting down, you might have osteoarthritis. Since putting pressure on the knee causes the pain, it is likely that your pain tends to worsen as the day progresses.(9, 10, 11)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a type of autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system starts to mistakenly attack the joints of the body, thinking of them to be foreign invaders. RA is also a known cause of inner knee pain. This condition causes inflammation of the joints, which is why people with RA tend to experience worse inner knee pain in the morning, and the symptoms slowly get better during the day.(12, 13, 14)
Medial Meniscus Injury
The meniscus is an important cartilage that provides cushioning between the bones in a joint. There are two menisci present in each knee, and they serve as cushions between the shin and thigh bones. It is possible for the meniscus to get damaged or torn if the knee is rotated unnaturally or put under a lot of strain or pressure, which commonly happens during athletic or sports activities. It can also happen if you twist your ankle or have a bad fall.(15, 16)
Typically, there are four major types of meniscus tears. These include:
- Bucket handle
Depending on how severe your injury is, aside from inner knee pain, you may also experience the following symptoms:
- Locking knees
- A sharp pain if you twist your knee
- A sense of imbalance
Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury
The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is located along the outside of your inner knee. This ligament is responsible for providing stability to the knee joint. If this ligament overstretches, you may develop an MCL sprain. Similar to the meniscus, the MCL can also tear fully or partially. In fact, an MCL injury is the most common type of injury experienced once force is applied to the outer knee, such as what happens in contact sports.(18, 19, 20)
Some of the common symptoms of an MCL injury are as follows:
- Inner knee pain
- Locking knees
- Hearing a popping sound at the time of the impact
- Instability or loss of balance while walking or standing
If you experience a direct blow to the knee, such as falling hard or getting hit by a blunt object directly on the knee, there is a possibility of bruising the knee bone. This is known as a knee contusion.(21, 22)
A knee contusion could be a cause of inner knee pain, depending on where exactly you got hit. A knee contusion is also quite common in those who play contact sports.(23) Some of the other signs and symptoms of knee contusions are as follows:
- Signs of bruising on the skin
- Trouble bending the knee
How is Inner Knee Pain Treated?
Knee injuries are pretty common, and some of them can be easily resolved at home. However, if your symptoms and pain continue to persist for over three days, it could be possible that you have a more serious injury and need to show it to a doctor. Doctors may recommend some more treatment methods depending on the exact cause of your pain.
Minor inner knee pain can be treated at home following the RICE method, which consists of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. You can also take pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil) to relieve the swelling and pain.
If there is no relief in your pain after three days despite the home remedies, it is better to consult a doctor.
If the inner knee pain gets worse after three to four days, or if the at-home remedies do not relieve your symptoms, some of the other treatments that a doctor may recommend for serious knee injuries include:
- Physical therapy that involves exercises, stretching, and ultrasound therapy.
- Steroid injections
- Wearing assistive devices like a knee brace during your day-to-day activities.
- Arthroscopic surgery of the knee if there is a meniscus tear.(24, 25)
While not all the causes of inner knee pain can be prevented, it is always a good idea to regularly exercise to strengthen your leg muscles, especially the hamstrings and quadriceps. This is one of the most effective ways to treat and prevent knee injuries. By being careful, providing rest to the knee, and consulting a doctor if the pain continues to persist, you can avoid the pain and injury from getting worse.
- CALMBACH, W. and HUTCHENS, M., 2022. Evaluation of Patients Presenting with Knee Pain: Part II. Differential Diagnosis. [online] Aafp.org. Available at: <http://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0901/p917.html> [Accessed 23 June 2022].
- O’Brien, T.D., Reeves, N.D., Baltzopoulos, V., Jones, D.A. and Maganaris, C.N., 2010. Mechanical properties of the patellar tendon in adults and children. Journal of biomechanics, 43(6), pp.1190-1195.
- Cairns, G., Owen, T., Kluzek, S., Thurley, N., Holden, S., Rathleff, M.S. and Dean, B.J.F., 2018. Therapeutic interventions in children and adolescents with patellar tendon related pain: a systematic review. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine, 4(1), p.e000383.
- Parikh, S.N. and Lykissas, M.G., 2016. Classification of lateral patellar instability in children and adolescents. Orthopedic Clinics, 47(1), pp.145-152.
- Chotel, F., Bérard, J. and Raux, S., 2014. Patellar instability in children and adolescents. Orthopaedics & Traumatology: Surgery & Research, 100(1), pp.S125-S137.
- Ladenhauf, H.N., Seitlinger, G. and Green, D.W., 2020. Osgood–Schlatter disease: a 2020 update of a common knee condition in children. Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 32(1), pp.107-112.
- Neuhaus, C., Appenzeller-Herzog, C. and Faude, O., 2021. A systematic review on conservative treatment options for OSGOOD-Schlatter disease. Physical Therapy in Sport, 49, pp.178-187.
- Weiler, R., Ingram, M. and Wolman, R., 2011. Osgood-Schlatter disease. BMJ, 343.
- Muraki, S., Akune, T., Teraguchi, M., Kagotani, R., Asai, Y., Yoshida, M., Tokimura, F., Tanaka, S., Oka, H., Kawaguchi, H. and Nakamura, K., 2015. Quadriceps muscle strength, radiographic knee osteoarthritis and knee pain: the ROAD study. BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 16(1), pp.1-10.
- Rejeski, W.J., Ettinger Jr, W.H., Shumaker, S., Heuser, M.D., James, P., Monu, J. and Burns, R., 1995. The evaluation of pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis: the knee pain scale. The Journal of rheumatology, 22(6), pp.1124-1129.
- Dulay, G.S., Cooper, C. and Dennison, E.M., 2015. Knee pain, knee injury, knee osteoarthritis & work. Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology, 29(3), pp.454-461.
- Lee, J.K. and Choi, C.H., 2012. Total knee arthroplasty in rheumatoid arthritis. Knee surgery & related research, 24(1), p.1.
- Keefe, F.J., Caldwell, D.S., Martinez, S., Nunley, J., Beckham, J. and Williams, D.A., 1991. Analyzing pain in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Pain coping strategies in patients who have had knee replacement surgery. Pain, 46(2), pp.153-160.
- Walsh, D.A. and McWilliams, D.F., 2012. Pain in rheumatoid arthritis. Current pain and headache reports, 16(6), pp.509-517.
- Belzer, J.P. and Cannon, W.D., 1993. Meniscus tears: treatment in the stable and unstable knee. JAAOS-Journal of the american academy of orthopaedic surgeons, 1(1), pp.41-47.
- Crues 3rd, J.V., Mink, J., Levy, T.L., Lotysch, M. and Stoller, D.W., 1987. Meniscal tears of the knee: accuracy of MR imaging. Radiology, 164(2), pp.445-448.
- Jee, W.H., McCauley, T.R., Kim, J.M., Jun, D.J., Lee, Y.J., Choi, B.G. and Choi, K.H., 2003. Meniscal tear configurations: categorization with MR imaging. American Journal of Roentgenology, 180(1), pp.93-97.
- Miyamoto, R.G., Bosco, J.A. and Sherman, O.H., 2009. Treatment of medial collateral ligament injuries. JAAOS-Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 17(3), pp.152-161.
- Fetto, J.F. and Marshall, J.L., 1978. Medial collateral ligament injuries of the knee: a rationale for treatment. Clinical orthopaedics and related research, (132), pp.206-218.
- Andrews, K., Lu, A., Mckean, L. and Ebraheim, N., 2017. Medial collateral ligament injuries. Journal of orthopaedics, 14(4), pp.550-554.
- Sanders, T.G., Medynski, M.A., Feller, J.F. and Lawhorn, K.W., 2000. Bone contusion patterns of the knee at MR imaging: footprint of the mechanism of injury. Radiographics, 20(suppl_1), pp.S135-S151.
- Mandalia, V., Fogg, A.J.B., Chari, R., Murray, J., Beale, A. and Henson, J.H.L., 2005. Bone bruising of the knee. Clinical radiology, 60(6), pp.627-636.
- Terzidis, I.P., Christodoulou, A.G., Ploumis, A.L., Metsovitis, S.R., Koimtzis, M. and Givissis, P., 2004. The appearance of kissing contusion in the acutely injured knee in the athletes. British journal of sports medicine, 38(5), pp.592-596.
- Persson, F., Turkiewicz, A., Bergkvist, D., Neuman, P. and Englund, M., 2018. The risk of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis after arthroscopic meniscus repair vs partial meniscectomy vs the general population. Osteoarthritis and cartilage, 26(2), pp.195-201.
- Stein, T., Mehling, A.P., Welsch, F., von Eisenhart-Rothe, R. and Jäger, A., 2010. Long-term outcome after arthroscopic meniscal repair versus arthroscopic partial meniscectomy for traumatic meniscal tears. The American journal of sports medicine, 38(8), pp.1542-1548.