What Is Medial Knee Pain?
Medial knee pain is pain occurring on the inside of the knee. Medial knee pain can be of gradual onset or as result of a traumatic incident causing immediate pain on the inside of the knee. There are a few very common causes of medial knee pain that all have a different presentation, behaviour and onset and are all managed differently in terms of the appropriate care.
Common Causes Of Medial Knee Pain
The three most common causes of medial knee pain that I see in my Sydney CBD physio clinic are medial meniscal complaints either acute or degenerative, medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprains of varying grades and medial compartment arthritis specifically osteoarthritis of the inside of the knee. Another common cause of medial knee pain that can never be ruled out prior to assessment of any potential cause of medial knee pain is patellofemoral conditions. Issues with the knee cap can also frequent cause pain to refer to the inside of the knee.
Medial Meniscal Disorders
Each knee has two menisci sitting on either side of the knee between the articular cartilage surfaces of the knee joint. The menisci have the role of increasing stability as well as distributing weight and force at the knee. Menisci are Semi-Luna shaped and have a wedged profile from outside to inside. This inner area has no direct blood supply which poses a problem when injury occurs as the ability for the meniscus to repair itself is limited especially if injury occurs to the inner part of the menisci deeper inside the joint where the tissue is avascular. The common injuries to the menisci are either traumatic occurring typically in athletes and frequently as the result of a twisting injury with the knee in a bent position. The other common cause of medial meniscal complaints are degenerative processes, degenerative meniscal injuries are more common in the elderly population and typically require less force than traumatic meniscal injuries and are frequently experienced as result of often very innocuous events. Due to the mechanism of acute meniscal injuries it is common for them to occur in conjunction with other injuries to the knee such as ACL and MCL injuries that are frequently also the result of stress or twisting of the knee when in a bent position.
Medial Collateral Ligament Sprains
Medial Ligament disorders occur when there is damage to some or all of the fibers of the medial collateral ligament. This ligament runs down the inside of the knee crossing the joint and the purpose is to aid sideways stability of the knee and balance. Typically damage occurs during a valgus stress to the knee where your foot moves laterally or outwards in relation to your knee, commonly I see this occurring in landing injuries from a jump, fall or step or in a poorly timed or executed tackle playing soccer. Lower grade more minor MCL injuries can often regain stability and full activity in 2-3 weeks but more severe MCL injuries can easily take 3-6 months for a full return to play. Just like traumatic medial meniscal tears injuries to the MCL can commonly occur in conjunction with other injuries to the knee and don’t always occur in isolation.
Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is know as a degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis typically develops in late middle age in peoples 40’s and beyond but can occur earlier in life depending on the load and stress the joint has been exposed to. The knee is a very common location to suffer osteoarthritis, factors such as obesity, excessive loading and kneeling over time as well as previous injury to the knee all increase an individuals likelihood of suffering knee osteoarthritis. In osteoarthritis the medial knee pain typically develops over time and there is no acute incident that is indicated as the single cause of the individuals pain. Medial knee pain due to osteoarthritis is the result of the wear and tear of the articular cartilage on the medial side of the joint, as this starts to wear down the protective cushion between the body’s bones decreases.
Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance on Medial Knee Pain should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, general practitioner or physiotherapist.