Medial knee pain is pain on the inside of the knee which usually comes on gradually as opposed to a sudden acute knee injury.
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Pain on the inside of the knee is usually an acute injury caused by a sudden trauma, however it can come on gradually over time with poor biomechanics and overuse.
Below we outline the most common sports injuries resulting in medial knee pain, some of the less common causes and important conditions which should not be missed.
Common causes of medial knee pain
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a common cause of pain on the inside of the knee. It occurs when the patella or kneecap rubs against the bone underneath creating friction and pain. Patellofemoral pain is usually known as a cause of pain at the front of the knee as well as sometimes on the outside of the knee. Treatment involves reducing the pain and swelling then correcting any problems which might be causing the patella to track incorrectly over the femur bone.
Medial meniscus tear is a tear of the semi circular cartilage in the knee joint. This can be an acute or sudden injury or it can come on over time through overuse and degeneration of the cartilage meniscus. There may be a history of twisting or trauma to the knee with symptoms including pain on the inside of the knee joint. Swelling may develop 24 to 48 hours after the initial injury.
Medial ligament sprain is a tear or sprain to the medial ligament on the inside of the knee. It can be caused by an impact on the outside of the knee causing the medial ligament to over stretch or tear. It may also come on gradually if there are biomechanical problems causing the knee to twist or bend putting too much stress on the medial ligament.
Less common causes of medial knee pain
Synovial plica is a fold in the synovial membrane which surrounds the knee joint and contains the lubricating synovial fluid. The fold is found along the inside of the knee cap causing symptoms of pain and discomfort and a sharp pain may be felt when squatting. A synovial plica may sometimes feel like a thickened band under the inside of the kneecap.
Pes anserinus tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon on the inside of the knee. A bursa or small fluid sack can also become inflamed causing pain and this is known as Pes anserinus bursitis. Symptoms are similar to that of a medial ligament injury with pain over the inside of the knee, particularly the lower part. Pain may be felt when climbing stairs or when contracting the hamstring muscles against resistance.
Osteoarthritis of the knee is wear and tear of the knee joint. Symptoms include a deep aching sensation in the joint which is worse after exercise. Stiffness in the knee is also common, particularly first thing in the mornings. There is likely to be swelling in the knee and sometimes cracking or click noises are heard when using the knee.
Referred pain is where a problem somewhere else in the body causes pain on the inside of the knee. This can be from the lumbar spine such as in sciatic or a slipped disc or from problems in the hip.
Important do not miss
Slipped capital femoral epiphysis occurs when there is a fracture at the neck (top, below the ball shaped head) of the femur (thigh bone). The fracture usually occurs gradually over a period of time and the two parts of the bone then 'slip' apart, with the head of the Femur moving backwards.
Perthes' disease is a hip problem which affects children, most commonly aged between four and eight, but can also occasionally occur in younger children and teenagers. Symptoms include tiredness and pain in the groin and sometimes in the knee. Pain can be felt in the knee only even though the disease only affects the hip.
Tumors in young athletes