Lateral Knee Pain

Lateral knee pain is pain that occurs on the outer side of the knee.  It is the least common place to experience pain and there are a variety of causes.

It may come on gradually over time or may develop suddenly after an injury. As a result, the symptoms are varied too. Pain may be a general ache or specific sharp pain and movement may be restricted.

Here is a summary of the most common causes of lateral knee pain. Click on the links to find out more about each condition including symptoms and treatment options for each. If none of these sound quite like your problem, visit the knee pain diagnosis section for more help working out what is causing your pain.

Causes of Lateral Knee Pain

Lateral knee pain occurs on the outer side of the knee

1) Iliotibial Band Syndrome

What is it: Irritation of the thick fibrous band on the outer side of the knee known as the Iliotibial Band (ITB)
Symptoms: Outer knee pain mainly when the heel strikes the floor, inflammation
Aggravating Activities: Running (esp long distance), stairs, cycling, hiking, weight lifting, squats
Onset: Develops gradually with overuse
Treatment: Visit the Iliotibial Band Syndrome section

2) Lateral Collateral Ligament Injury

What is it: Damage to some or all of the fibres of the Lateral Collateral Ligament on the outer side of the knee
Symptoms: Outer knee pain, swelling, bruising, instability, stiffness
Aggravating Activities: Bending the leg, walking, stairs, sports
Onset: Sudden onset due to a force through the inner side of the knee which stretches the lateral ligament eg tackle, or sudden twisting of the knee eg skiing
Treatment: Visit the Knee Sprain section

3) Lateral Meniscus Tear

What is it: Tear in the cartilage lining on the outer side of the joint
Symptoms: Pain, swelling, locking, instability, difficulty straightening the knee
Aggravating Activities: Walking, running, squatting, stairs esp going up
Onset: Can occur suddenly with a force through the knee, sudden twisting of the knee or gradually through wear and tear
Treatment: Visit the Meniscus Tear section

What Next?

To find out more about these common causes of lateral knee pain, click on the links above.

However, just because there is pain on the outer side of the knee, it doesn’t necessarily mean the problem is coming from there. Pain can refer to different places so a problem round the front of the joint can produce a feeling of lateral knee pain.

If you would prefer to diagnose your pain using other specific symptoms, how the pain started or the specific location of the pain, go to the Diagnose Your Pain section, for help working out was is causing your pain, and to learn what you can do about it. Remember, the only way to accurately diagnose your problem is to see your doctor.

Go to Diagnosis Section or Homepage


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