What causes inner knee pain and how to treat it?

Many people assume that all knee pain stems from the kneecap, but that’s not always the case. Inner knee pain refers to an ache in the medial knee, which is the area on the side of your knee that’s closest to the opposite leg. Just like knee pain that stems from the kneecap, called the patella, inner knee pain can make it difficult to accomplish relatively simple tasks, such as walking around your house to clean or even bending down to sit in a chair.

If you’re dealing with inner knee pain, read on to learn about potential reasons behind the pain as well as how to treat it.

5 potential causes of inner knee pain

There are a variety of reasons that you could be experiencing medial knee pain. Some people may have inner knee pain due to sustaining an injury while playing sports. Others have it as a symptom of a condition that needs further assistance from a medical professional. 

It’s important to determine the cause behind the medial knee pain in order to properly treat it and prevent the pain from worsening. 

Five possible reasons you could be having inner knee pain:

  1. Arthritis — The knee joint is one of the largest joints in the body, making it one of the most common body parts that experience arthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can both cause medial knee pain. OA is a degenerative disease that breaks down joint cartilage and RA is an autoimmune disease that causes joint inflammation and damage all over the body.
  1. Medial collateral ligament injury — The MCL is the tissue that’s located along the edge of the inner knee. The ligament can be partially or completely torn due to a traumatic blow to the knee, especially during contact sports. If it becomes overstretched due to overuse, you could sprain your MCL. Injuries to this ligament can cause pain as well as locked knees, swelling and instability.
  1. Pes anserine bursitis — When the knees experience overuse, the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints, called bursae, can become inflamed. The knee bursae are located between the MLC and three tendons, referred to as pes anserine. When a bursa becomes inflamed, it can produce an excess of fluid which causes both pain and swelling in the medial knee.
  1. Medial meniscus injury — Another medial injury stems from the meniscus, which is a pad of cartilage that works as a shock absorber for the knee joint. There are two menisci located in each of your knees. A meniscus can sustain damage if it’s rotated or has too much pressure from physical activity like exercising or playing sports.
  1. Knee contusion — You can experience contusions, or bruising, anywhere on your body. It’s a result of bleeding under the skin due to trauma. If your knee is hit by a blunt object, or you have a hard fall, then you could experience knee pain as well as difficulty bending your knee, swelling and stiffness. As time goes on, the contusion can change colors throughout the healing process including red, purple and yellow.

4 ways to treat inner knee pain

Whether your knee pain is a symptom of a medical condition or stems from an injury that needs to heal, treating your medial knee pain will allow you to not only manage the pain but also increase the overall quality of the joint. 

There are several treatment options that you can do at home, while others will need the input and assistance of a medical professional. Be sure to consult your doctor to determine the best treatment options for your specific cause.

Four ways to treat inner knee pain:

  1. RICE — The Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation method is one of the most common, and effective, treatment methods for knee pain. It’s important to stay off your knee to avoid additional pressure and apply ice to slow down blood circulation. Then you can use a compression bandage to reduce swelling and elevate your knee with a pillow to limit the bleeding.
  1. NSAIDs — When you need an easy and effective way to help relieve your knee pain, ask your doctor about taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. These can help reduce potential swelling and temporarily reduce the pain in your medial knee.
  1. Steroid injection — For some causes of knee pain, especially pes anserine bursitis, your doctor may recommend an injection of the steroid corticosteroid. It can help to alleviate the pain as well as inflammation if the symptoms of the injury are persistent or worsening.
  1. Exercises — A physical therapist can show you how to safely and effectively execute knee exercises that will help with pain management as well as reduce the risk of future injury. They can walk you through stretching exercises that increase your knee’s range of motion and strengthening exercises to decrease the pressure on the joint.

Back in Motion Physical Therapy can help reduce your inner knee pain

Inner knee pain can make it difficult to handle your day-to-day activities, as even walking from point A to point B can cause an ache. Our physical therapists can help determine the cause of your medial knee pain and give you the treatments you need to help alleviate it.

Contact us today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment. 

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