Most injuries in a sport which cause pain on the outside of the knee are gradual onset, where the athlete may not be able to pinpoint an exact time when the injury occurred as they might do with an acute joint sprain or muscle injury
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- Important injuries not to miss!
Most common causes of lateral knee pain
One of the most common causes of pain on the outside of the knee is Iliotibial band syndrome. It commonly affects runners with symptoms of pain and inflammation on the outside of the knee which comes on sometime during a run. Pain usually eases with rest only to return again when training resumes.
The iliotibial band is a long tendon which runs down the outside of the thigh from the tensor fascia
- Iliotibial band friction syndrome
- Iliotibial band friction syndrome exercises
- Iliotibial band friction syndrome massage techniques
A lateral meniscus tear is an injury to the cartilage meniscus which provides cushioning and support to the knee joint. This can be a sudden onset acute knee injury but gradual onset pain from wear and tear or degeneration of the cartilage is common. Pain will be felt along the joint line on the outside of the knee and usually when squatting. There may be noticeable swelling but not always. Read more on:
- Lateral cartilage meniscus injury
- Lateral cartilage meniscus injury rehabilitation
- Lateral cartilage meniscus injury exercises
Less common causes of outside knee pain
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) occurs when the patella (kneecap) is out of alignment and rubs on the femur bone underneath. Symptoms include an aching pain in the knee joint, with tenderness and swelling mostly at the front of the knee, around and under the patella but can develop towards the outside of the knee. Symptoms are often worse when walking up and down hills or when sitting for long periods. Read more about:
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome taping techniques
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome exercises
Osteoarthritis is wear and tear on the knee joint resulting in degeneration of cartilage and eventually bone. A deep aching pain is felt, usually on the inside of the knee but it can also affect the outside knee area. Pain is worse after exercises and swelling and/or joint stiffness is common.
Biceps femoris tendinopathy or biceps femoris tendonitis is inflammation or degeneration of the hamstring tendon at the point where it inserts at the outside back of the knee. Symptoms include tenderness and swelling at the point of injury which is likely to have come on over time. Stiffness in the morning or after sitting for long periods is also a symptom.
The tibiofibular joint is the point in the knee where the tops of the lower leg shin bones (tibia and fibula) join. Dislocation of the joint occurs most commonly when the athlete sustains an impact or fall with the knee in a fully bent position. Symptoms include pain and swelling on the outer surface of the shin with the top of the fibula bone being more prominent just below the outer surface of the knee.
Synovitis occurs when the synovial membrane which lines and lubricates the knee joint becomes inflamed. Symptoms include swelling or stiffness in the joint which may develop following another injury, or from arthritis or gout.
Pain may be referred into the knee from problems elsewhere in the body, particularly sciatic pain from the lower back and hip. Read more on:
Other causes of knee pain which MUST not be missed
Symptoms of a peroneal nerve injury, also known as peroneal neuropathy are caused by a direct impact to the outside of the knee. Specific symptoms which might distinguish a peroneal nerve injury from a straightforward contusion include numbness or tingling in the front and or side of the lower leg with weakness lifting the foot upwards and outwards. In severe cases, foot drop will occur where the foot cannot be lifted up enough to enable normal walking.
This is a fracture of the growth plate (epiphysis) at the top of the thigh bone. It is more common in boys aged 11 to 16 years old and develops gradually over time. Symptoms include pain in the hip and groin which can radiate into the knee.
Perthes' disease is a hip condition which affects children, most commonly aged between four and eight. Symptoms of tiredness and groin pain are common symptoms along with a noticeable limp. Medical help is needed to diagnose this condition as early as possible to try to prevent any future problems.