The inner knee is also called the medial knee or medial compartment. It is the area of the knee that is closest to the opposite knee. Pain in this area can be caused by different knee conditions or injuries. As one of the most complex joints in the body, the knee is easily injured.
When there is a deterioration of cartilage in the area, inner knee pain occurs. Many causes of inner knee pain are linked to injuries. Falls, sports injuries, and increased activities are the most common incidents that cause knee injury and pain.
Children, adolescents, and adults can all experience inner knee pain. However, it is reported that adults older than 60 are the ones who are most likely to experience this.
Possible Causes of Inner Knee Pain
Pes anserine bursitis
This condition occurs due to inflammation in a tissue in the knee called a bursa. A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that helps prevent muscles, tendons, and bones from rubbing together. Thus, it reduces friction between joints. Bursae are not only located in the knee, but also in other parts of the body. The bursae that are located in the knee can be found between the medial collateral ligament and three tendons: the sartorius, gracilis, and semitendinosus. Collectively, they’re called the pes anserinus.
When overused or irritated, the bursa can produce extra fluid which causes swelling and pressure on the knee. This inflammation is called pes anserine bursitis and this may result to inner knee pain. Aside from the inner knee, the pain may also be felt around 2 to 3 inches below the knee joint.
Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury
The medial collateral ligaments are found on the side of the knee.They connect to the thighbone or femur to the lower leg bone. A direct blow to the outside of the knee usually injures the MCL, causing pain on the inside. The MCL can either tear partially or fully because of excessive twisting or stretching. A tear or a sprain in the medial collateral ligament may cause inner knee pain. Immediate swelling or pain might immediately follow.
Symptoms of an MCL injury include swelling, instability while standing or walking, locking knees, and a popping sound at the time of impact.
Torn Knee Cartilage or Meniscus
There are two “C” shaped menisci in each knee. These are two tough pieces of cartilage located between the thighbone and shinbone. The meniscus is the protective cartilage that acts as a cushion to the knee joint. It stabilizes the joint and protects the bones from wear and tear.
Mostly, for young people, the main cause of torn meniscus is sports. When they get a knee injury while doing athletic activities, the meniscus can rip or tear, resulting to inner knee pain. Likewise, the meniscus can also wear down as someone gets older. The cartilage weakens with age and it becomes more prone to tear, causing pain when a person moves their knee.
Aside from feeling the pain, a person suffering from torn knee cartilage may also initally hear a “pop” when the tear occurs. After that, the person may also notice knee stiffness and swelling. Depending on the severity of the injury, the person may also feel stiffness and a sharp pain when twisting their knee. Likewise, locking of knees and a sense of imbalance may also be felt.
This type of arthritis is called the “wear and tear”. It is a degenerative condition where a person’s protective cartilage to wear down, causing the bones in their joints to grind together. After hitting the age of 50, most people suffer from this kind of knee pain.
If you are someone who experiences inner knee pain when walking up and down stairs or sitting down in a chair, you may have osteoarthritis. These activities put pressure on your joint, causing inner knee pain. When you have osteoarthritis, being active causes the knee joint to ache or swell. The affected joints can also be stiff early in the morning. As the cartilage wears down, pain develops. This will gradually escalate from a sharp pain that worsens when you move your knee to a constant dull, aching pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where a person’s immune system attacks multiple joints and causes inflammation in the body. This can also cause inner knee pain. The pain is usually severe in the morning but it gradually decreases as you go through the day. In addition to pain, the kneecap may also develop swelling, redness, and warmth. Compared with osteoarthritis, knee pain from rheumatoid arthritis tends to improve with activity.
There are a lot of treatment that you can do at home to help resolve knee pain either caused by injuries or inflammatory disorders. The following treatments may be useful:
- Rest the knee. A few days off from intense activity will be beneficial for your knees. If the injury is caused by sports, avoid activities like running until the knee is healed.
- Use an ice pack. Reduce inflammation and pain by applying ice to the injured area of the knee for 20 minutes. Do this three to four times a day every three to four hours. It is recommended that you do this for at least two or three days, or until the pain is gone.
- Compress your knee. Wrap the joint using an elastic bandage, straps, or sleeves. It will not only keep down the swelling, it will also add support.
- Elevate your knee. Put a pillow underneath your heel when you’re sitting or lying down to lessen the swelling.
- Take anti-inflammatory medications. There are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that can alleviate and swelling, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen. They can be bought over-the-counter. If these do not work, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications.
In the case that these home treatments do not work, please consult a doctor to determine the best course of treatment.