Inner knee pain can be the result of a variety of conditions, from arthritis to a ligament tear. Here’s how to identify the source of your discomfort and determine the most effective treatment plan.
Made up of bones, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons, the medial knee — also known as the inner knee — can weaken or become inflamed due to injury, overuse, or a degenerative condition. Typical symptoms include a dull ache or sharp pain, a cracking or popping sound when the joint moves, and an unstable feeling in the knee when walking or standing.
In most instances, inner knee pain responds well to at-home remedies. If your pain persists, however, it’s important to see an orthopedic specialist to pinpoint the exact cause of your discomfort and determine the right course of action.
CAUSES OF INNER KNEE PAIN
If you’re experiencing medial knee pain or discomfort, you may be suffering from one of these four common conditions:
1. Knee Bursitis
Small sacs of lubricating fluid called bursa surround the knee joint to shield the tendons, muscles, and bones of the joint from friction. When the bursa become inflamed due to a repetitive injury or sudden trauma, you’ll feel pain about two to three inches below the inner knee.
2. Meniscus Tear
Similar to bursa, the meniscus cartilage in the knees cushions the joint as you move. If this cartilage ruptures in the event of an injury or weakens over time due to arthritis, you may experience inner knee pain.
3. Rheumatoid Arthritis or Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage in the knee wears down. A classic symptom of this condition is pain when you exert pressure on the joint, especially when walking up and down stairs. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is the result of the body’s immune system attacking healthy joints and tissues. Swelling, stiffness, and loss of motion in the knee are signals that you may have rheumatoid arthritis.
4. MCL Tear
One of four ligaments that stabilize the knee, the medial collateral ligament (MCL) runs along the inner portion of the joint. The MCL allows the knee to rotate freely while also preventing it from bending inward. A severe blow to the outer area of the knee can tear the MCL, resulting in severe knee pain.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR INNER KNEE PAIN
The first step in treating inner knee pain involves at-home remedies, such as resting and icing the joint for a few days. You can also try over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
If the pain persists, an orthopedic specialist may prescribe corticosteroid injections to lessen your discomfort. Only in the most severe cases will a doctor recommend surgery. For example, minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery may be required to repair or reattach the ligament in the case of an MCL tear.
Physical therapy exercises to strengthen the muscles encasing the knee are another common treatment option. A quad stretch, for example, helps reduce stress on the knee. For this exercise, use a chair for balance and support. Then, standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, step back with your right foot, maintaining a straight posture. Bend your knees slightly so you feel a stretch in the front of your legs. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and then repeat with the other leg.
If you’re experiencing chronic pain in your inner knee, the orthopedic doctors and physical therapists at New York Bone & Joint Specialists can help you find the treatment that’s right for you. Book an appointment today for a personalized consultation.