Inner knee pain can either be acute (develops suddenly after a knee injury) or chronic (develops gradually over time). Its symptoms tend to be general pain or a sharp pain in the inner knee, as well as restricted range of movement.
Knee injuries are the leading causes of inner knee pain. They can trigger muscle weakness and/or tightness, which, in turn, can alter knee movement. Force ends up getting concentrated in the inner side of the knee joint, instead of getting distributed evenly throughout. Consequently, the inner side of the knee joint is damaged and pain ensues.
Inner knee pain is caused by the following knee injuries:
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear – Damage to some or all of the fibers of the medial collateral ligament (the knee ligament found on the inner side of the knee joint).
- Medial cartilage/meniscus tear – Tearing of the cartilage lining on the inner side of the knee joint.
- Arthritis – Inflammation and stiffness of the inner side of the knee joint due to everyday wear and tear.
The symptoms of inner knee pain are as follows:
- Pain (which intensifies when bending or rotating the knee)
- Tenderness (which intensifies when pressure is applied on the knee)
- Cracking or popping sounds coming from the knee during movement
As mentioned earlier, inner knee pain is caused by certain knee injuries. Hence, once you tell your doctor that you are suffering from inner knee pain, he or she will examine you and assess and diagnose your underlying knee injury. This knee diagnosis will do so using the following methods:
- Physical examination – Your doctor will check your knee for swelling, pain, tenderness, warmth and visible bruising. Your doctor will move your leg and knee joint to determine how far you can extend and retract your lower leg, as well as to listen for popping, grinding or clicking sounds.
- Imaging tests – X-ray, computerized tomography (CT) scan, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provide both cross-sectional and real-time images of the structures within and around your knee (e.g., bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and cartilage). Such images will help your doctor accurately diagnose your knee injury.
- Lab tests – Some knee injuries (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis) leave indicators in the blood. Your doctor might therefore order a blood test to find out your knee injury.
Proper treatment of inner knee pain involves effectively treating the knee injury causing it. Below are the treatments for knee injuries:
- RICE protocol – RICE simply means Rest, Ice application, Compression and Elevation. This treatment protocol helps relieve pain and inflammation.
- Medication – Your doctor may prescribe medication to help ease pain and improve mobility. Such drugs are either taken orally (e.g., paracetamol and NSAIDs) or injected directly into the affected knee joint (e.g., corticosteroids and supplemental lubrication).
- Physical therapy – Your doctor may advice you to regularly perform certain exercises that will help relieve knee pain, improve your balance and strengthen your knee joints and muscles.
- Surgery – Surgical procedures are done on severely injured knees. They repair damaged knee joints (arthroscopic surgery), if not partially (partial knee replacement surgery) or completely (total knee replacement surgery) replace them.
As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While inner knee pain is treatable, preventing it from happening in the first place is still the best option. Below are some tips on how to prevent inner knee pain:
- Always wear protective gear before exercising or doing sports. Replace damaged or worn-out protective gear immediately. Preventive knee braces are always a good idea.
- Never forget to perform warm-up and cool-down exercises.
- Make sure that existing knee injuries are treated properly. Always follow your doctor’s orders and never self-medicate.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can make you more susceptible to knee injuries.
- Do these exercises for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Eat foods rich in calcium and Vitamin D. These nutrients will help keep your bones and muscles strong and healthy.
- Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water every day. Water helps lubricate your joints.
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