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What are the Most Common Causes of Pain on the Inside of the Knee?

Alex Paul
Alex Paul

Two of the most common causes of pain on the inside of the knee are patellofemoral syndrome and chrondromalacia patella. These conditions are usually caused by overuse or repetitive strain. Other causes of knee pain, such as injuries to the meniscus and medial collateral ligament, are often the result of a sharp movements or overloading of the joint. Osteoarthritis and referred pain from other parts of the body can also cause inner knee pain.

Patellofemoral syndrome is known to cause pain around the kneecap including on the inner side. Pain due to this condition is common among runners, although it is considered to be a non-specific diagnosis. This means that it’s a “catch all” condition that can be caused by a number of problems including weak quadriceps muscles, tight structures around the knee, and overuse. Chondromalacia patellae, which is a degeneration of cartilage below the kneecap, is also sometimes called patellofemoral syndrome and can cause medial knee pain.

An anterior view of the right knee.
An anterior view of the right knee.

A potential cause of inner knee pain is a tear to the meniscus. There are two menisci in the knee, one on either side, and these bands of tissue are essential for absorbing shock. If the medial, or inner, meniscus becomes damaged, it can cause considerable pain, as well as locking and swelling. The most common cause of this type of injury is sharp, twisting movements.

A man with knee pain.
A man with knee pain.

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) helps to provide balance and stability to the knee. If this ligament becomes damaged or, in the worst case, is completely torn, it can result in serious pain on the inside of the knee. A small strain to the ligament will take several weeks to heal, while a full rupture may take up to six months and require surgery. A loud pop will often accompany a complete rupture to the ligament.

There are a number of other potential causes of pain felt on the inside of the knee. Osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition affecting the knee cartilage, may cause pain in this area. In some patients, the pain may be referred from the lower back or hip. In rare cases, this type of pain could be caused by a tumor. The true cause of knee pain can be difficult to diagnose, so a doctor, physiotherapist, or other medical professional will examine the joint, analyze the patient’s medical history and, if necessary, take diagnostic scans.

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    • An anterior view of the right knee.
      By: Alila
      An anterior view of the right knee.
    • A man with knee pain.
      By: Shakzu
      A man with knee pain.