Inner Knee Pain Types Causes Risk Factors Symptoms Diagnosing Recovery
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 pain on the inner side of the knee 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.
What You Need to Know
- The most common causes of inner knee pain are MCL tear, runner's knee, torn meniscus, synovial plica irritation, arthritis or knee bursitis.
- Symptoms most often occur when running, walking, bending, cycling, or squatting.
- Treatment includes rest, ice, compression, stretches & exercises, OTC medication for pain and sometimes physical therapy. Learn More
- Surgery is usually not necessary to resolve pain, unless underlying injury requires it.
Pain on the Inner Side of the Knee
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 of the knee joint. Pain around this area suggests a problem with the tendons, ligaments, or other connective tissue that attach to the lower part of the leg.
- If inner knee pain occurs near the center of the joint this is often due to a meniscus, ligament, or patellar (kneecap) injury.
- Pain above the knee is usually due to tendon or muscle issues in the upper thigh region.
Types of Inner Knee Pain
Your inner knee pain could stem from existing knee injuries 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 these knee injuries through a fall or deep squat, meaning that older adults can also be at risk.
Patella or kneecap pain can also contribute to 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.
A meniscus is a chunk of supportive wedge-shaped cartilage within the knee that cushions the 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 medial meniscus. In the event of a tear, you will typically experience pain, swelling, and instability.
Learn More About Meniscus Tears
Arthritis is a catch-all term referring to joint pain or joint disease. Arthritis symptoms range from mild to severe and can affect the inner knee joint.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is also known as “wear and tear”, overuse, 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 and deformation. Early diagnosis and treatment is key to managing rheumatoid arthritis, so consult a doctor or rheumatologist as soon as possible.
More on Arthritis of the Knee
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 (connective tissue that secures the entire knee joint capsule) 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 conditions, including meniscal knee injuries.
Pes Anserine Bursitis
A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac found in joints throughout the human body to reduce friction between tendons with movement. The pes anserine bursa, in the medial lower side of the knee, may become inflamed, causing inner knee pain. This condition, known as knee bursitis, results in pain, swelling, and stiffness. It often occurs in runners or athletes and can cause inner knee pain when running.
Sprain or Tear
Although less common, it is also possible to tear muscles or tendons that cross or attach to the inner knee. The muscles associated with the medial knee are known collectively as the adductors. Injury to these muscles is often felt near the hip but can cause knee pain as well.
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 overuse of the cartilage can lead to a breakdown of the meniscus, particularly as we age.
Among the most common causes of inner knee pain are:
- Repetitive stress
- Wear and tear
- Poor technique during everyday activities, sports, or exercise
- Dysfunctional lower body or core mechanics
- 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
- People who are inactive or sedentary
- Weekend warriors
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, cycling or squatting
- Weakness of the thigh muscles
- Loss of knee range of motion
- Poor coordination with lower leg movements
Treatment for these symptoms will likely include rest, ice, exercise and even the use of knee braces.
Learn How to Treat Inner Knee Pain
Although inner knee pain is not always accompanied by swelling, you may have a number of other symptoms, including swelling, discomfort, and stiffness.
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 with special tests specifically for the knee.
He or she may also order a diagnostic test, such as an MRI or X-ray for more conclusive results or ruling out certain injuries. It is also important for your doctor to rule out other possible issues such as a low back injury-known as lumbar radiculopathy.
Recovering from Inner Knee Pain
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.
Knee Pain Products
Inner Knee Pain Treatment
What injury is it when the inside of your knee hurts? ›
There are lots of different conditions that can cause pain on the inner side of your knee. These include ligament injuries, cartilage damage and osteoarthritis. These conditions are most often caused by a sports injury, overuse of your knee or getting older.How long does it take for inner knee injury to heal? ›
The time it takes to fully recover from an MCL tear depends on how severe the tear is. A grade 1 (mild) MCL tear usually heals within one to three weeks. A grade 2 (moderate) MCL tear generally takes four to six weeks to heal with treatment. A grade 3 (severe) MCL tear can take six weeks or more to heal with treatment.How do you treat an inner knee injury? ›
Treating Inner Knee Pain
RICE method: RICE–or Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation–is a common home remedy for inside knee pain. Staying off your knee as much as possible after an injury can help it heal, but if severe knee pain persists for more than three days, you may need to seek medical attention.
Two tell-tale signs of a knee injury are pain and swelling of the knee. You may also have difficulty with the joint moving. It may feel stiff, lock up, or feel like it's catching as you bend and straighten your leg. If you hear your knee pop and then give out at the time of impact, it's definitely a cause for concern.What does an MCL tear feel like? ›
MCL injuries hurt. Most people feel pain along the inside edge of the knee, and they also have swelling. You might hear a pop when the damage to the knee takes place, and your knee may lurch to the side. You may find it hard to walk, or feel like you can't put pressure on the leg with the hurt knee.How do I know if I tore my MCL? ›
- Pain, which can range from mild to severe.
- Tenderness along the inside of the knee.
- A feeling that the injured knee may give way under stress or may lock or catch.
An individual with an MCL tear may notice the following: A popping sound when the injury is sustained. Pain (ranging from mild to severe depending on injury grade) on the inside of the knee. Instability, or feeling like the knee cannot bear weight and may give out.Does MCL heal on its own? ›
While an MCL tear can be extremely painful, the good news is that the tear usually heals on its own after a few weeks of rest. While there are no figures available on how many MCL injuries occur each year, it is considered the most common type of knee injury.How do you tell if you tore a ligament in your knee? ›
Often you will have pain at the sides of the knee and swelling over the injury site. If it is an MCL injury, the pain is on the inside of the knee. An LCL injury may cause pain on the outside of the knee. The knee will also feel unstable, like it is going to give way.Can you walk on a torn meniscus? ›
Unless the torn meniscus has locked the knee, many people with a torn meniscus can walk, stand, sit, and sleep without pain. Other people find that the torn meniscus prevents them from participating comfortably in their usual daily activities.
What ligament is on the inside of your knee? ›
The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is on the inner side of your knee. It attaches the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is on the outer side of your knee. It connects your femur to your calf bone (fibula).Where does a torn meniscus hurt? ›
Symptoms of a meniscus tear may be different for each person, but some of the most common symptoms are: Pain in the knee joint: usually on the inside (medial), outside (lateral) or back of the knee. Swelling. Catching or locking of the knee joint.How can I tell if I tore something in my knee? ›
- A popping sensation.
- Swelling or stiffness.
- Pain, especially when twisting or rotating your knee.
- Difficulty straightening your knee fully.
- Feeling as though your knee is locked in place when you try to move it.
- Feeling of your knee giving way.
A knee sprain occurs when some or all of the fibers in one of the ligaments—cords of tissue that connect and support bones surrounding the joint—overstretch or tear. A knee strain is a tear that occurs in muscle fibers or in the tendons, which are the cords of tissue that attach muscle to bone.Can you walk with a torn ligament in your knee? ›
In most cases, the injured person can still walk with the torn knee ligament. But the movement will be severely limited, not to mention painful. Surgery may be the best route to a pain-free life, with amazing success rates. If someone suspects a damaged ACL or MCL seek immediate medical attention.Where does a torn meniscus hurt? ›
Symptoms of a meniscus tear may be different for each person, but some of the most common symptoms are: Pain in the knee joint: usually on the inside (medial), outside (lateral) or back of the knee. Swelling. Catching or locking of the knee joint.How do you check yourself for a torn meniscus? ›
You may also feel pain in the area of the meniscus. To test for a lateral meniscus tear (on the outer side of the knee), you'll be asked to turn your toes inward as far as your knees can rotate. You'll then squat and slowly stand up. A click or pain can indicate a meniscus tear.Can you walk with a torn meniscus? ›
Unless the torn meniscus has locked the knee, many people with a torn meniscus can walk, stand, sit, and sleep without pain. Other people find that the torn meniscus prevents them from participating comfortably in their usual daily activities.What does a torn ligament in the knee feel like? ›
Often you will have pain at the sides of the knee and swelling over the injury site. If it is an MCL injury, the pain is on the inside of the knee. An LCL injury may cause pain on the outside of the knee. The knee will also feel unstable, like it is going to give way.