Medial knee pain is pain that occurs on the inner side of the knee and can be due to a number of problems.
There are a number of structures on the medial side of the knee and problems in any one or more of these can cause pain.
Symptoms may come on gradually over time or may develop suddenly after a knee injury. There may be a general inner knee pain, movement may be restricted or there may be a sharp pain.
It is very common to get pain on the medial side of the knee, because muscle weakness and/or tightness, which is very common, can subtly change the way the knee moves.
This causes more force to go through the inner side of the joint, rather than distributing weight evenly through the whole joint, which results in damage to the inner side of the knee and therefore pain is felt medially.
Here you will find an introductory overview of the four most common causes of medial knee pain. See which one sounds most like your problem and then use the relevant links to find out loads more about each condition including symptoms and treatment options for each.
An MCL tear is the most common cause of medial knee pain in people under the age of 50.
What is it: Damage to some or all of the fibres of the medial collateral ligament on the inner side of the knee
Onset: Sudden onset due to a force through the outside of the leg e.g. tackle, or sudden twisting of the knee e.g. skiing
Symptoms: Inner knee pain, swelling, bruising, instability, stiffness
Aggravating Activities: Bending the leg, walking, stairs, sports
Features: There are three grades of MCL tear, depending on how severely you have damaged the ligament
Treatment Options: PRICE, knee brace, exercises
Find out more about MCL Tears
What is it: A tear in the cartilage lining on the inner side of the knee joint, known as the meniscus
Onset: Can occur suddenly with a force through the knee, sudden twisting of the knee or gradually through wear and tear
Aggravating Activities: Walking, running, squatting, stairs especially going up
Features: There are four types of meniscus tear depending on how the cartilage has torn
Treatment: PRICE, exercises, surgery
Find out more about Meniscus Tears
What is it: Inflammation of the pes anserine bursa, a small fluid-filled sac the reduces friction
Onset: Usually gradual onset rather than sudden. Most common in overweight middle aged women or runners and swimmers
Symptoms: Medial knee pain approximately 2-3 inches below the knee joint, swelling, stiffness, weakness and affects sleep
Aggravating Factors: Climbing stairs, resisted knee flexion and exercise
Treatment: Rest, ice, stretches, strengthening exercises, corticosteroid injections or occasionally surgery
Find out more about Pes Anserine Bursitis
What is it: Wear and tear most commonly to the cartilage lining the medial side of the joint
Onset: Symptoms gradually come on over time. Most common over the age of 50.
Symptoms: Morning stiffness, inside knee pain, swelling, clicking/grinding, reduced leg movements
Aggravating Activities: Worse after prolonged rest or activity, cold weather
Features: There are three classification stages of osteoarthritis, mild, moderate and severe based on how badly the joint is affected.
Treatment: Depends on the severity but arthritis treatments include exercises, medication, heat/ice, acupuncture, injections and knee braces
Find out more about Arthritis
Be aware that just because there is inner knee
pain, doesn’t necessarily mean the problem is on the inner side of the
joint. Pain can refer from different places such as the knee cap or even the back.
If your pain doesn’t sound quite like any of these problems, visit the Common Causes of Knee Pain section to find out about the most common knee problems.
Alternatively, if would like some guidance with working out what is causing your problem, visit the knee pain diagnosis section for help.
Remember, you should always see a doctor with any new onset of pain. To find out more about these common causes of medial knee pain, choose from the links above.
Page Last Updated: 30/10/18
Next Review Due: 30/10/20