Knee pain - inner side, outer side, front or back?

Where you feel knee pain gives a fairly good idea of likely sources. As explained below, they won't all be in the knee itself.

Pain at the front of your knee mostly does come from your knee, from the patello-femoral articulation.

Our thigh hamstring muscles and calf muscles cross the back of our knee, and there are a number of bursae there. These are lubricating structures between tendons, which sometimes become swollen and sore.

An arthritic knee may have a bakers cyst at the back. This is a 2 inch soft lump in the middle.
Our main leg artery can form a popliteal aneurysm here. This is a swelling caused by disease weakening it, and will be pulsatile (beating in time with our pulse.)

Our medial meniscus and medial ligament are prone to injury, so pain on the inner side is often from these structures of our knee, but not always...

Examine your knee to help with your knee pain diagnosis.

Arthritis knee pain? Your pain may well come from somewhere else, with nothing actually wrong with your knee itself!

You may find this hard to believe, but there is often something elsewhere that causes knee pain, and you can check for this on yourself.

You need to be sitting down with thigh horizontal, leg vertical, to examine your knee. The first spots to find are the slight depressions between the bones of the thigh and leg, at the front of the knee.

Trace a line down the middle of your thigh on each side. The depressions are where this line meets the front of the leg. They are about half way between the knee cap and the top of the shin bone

Feeling the bones of your knee joint.

Press firmly with a fingertip in each of these hollows and move them horizontally around toward the back of the knee, continuing to press firmly and moving your fingertips up and down a little. You will note the hollow narrowing down as you move back. This is the space between the curved lower end of the thigh bone (the “Femur”) and the flat upper end of the lower leg bone (the “Tibia”.)

The slight gap that you are feeling along between the bones, (called the “joint line”,) may be quite tender at some point.

If you come to a tender spot on the joint line, stop at that point and note just how tender. Now move your finger a quarter inch up onto the adjacent bone and press with the same force (on the thigh bone.) Compare the tenderness here with that over the joint line.

Next move your finger to about the same distance below the joint line and again compare the tenderness.

Interpretation of your findings on examination

If the joint line is the most tender of the three spots , this suggests there is arthritis or a mechanical internal derangement such as torn semilunar cartilage.

The type of arthritis here is commonly osteoarthritis.

Tenderness more above or below the joint line, points to a source of (“referred”) pain somewhere above the knee.

Inner side (medial) pain may be from your adductor muscles.
Outer side (lateral) pain may be from the gluteus medius.

If you have just recently sprained your knee, tenderness more below the joint line may be due to tearing of the coronary fibres (meniscotibial ligament) of the joint capsule.

Always remember, common things will coexist at times purely by chance. One can have pain from muscles further up the limb plus arthritis knee pain.


Pain due to osteoarthritis, about this

Some treatment options for knee osteoarthritis

Sources of referred pain - muscle trigger points, stretching

Stretching two muscles which commonly refer pain to your knee.

Knee stabilizing - exercise Quadriceps

Patella femoral syndrome, start of understanding, and treatment

Notes on knee injuries in general


Primarily inflammatory arthritis from immune system reactions

Ideas on causes of inflammation in joints (inflammatory arthritis)

A little knowledge about your immune system - not dangerous

Knee pain but lots of bad experiences with drug therapy?


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