Types of Knee Pain: Anterior, Medial And Lateral Knee Pain

Types of Knee Pain: Anterior, Medial And Lateral Knee Pain

Types Of Knee Pain And What They Mean

Knee pain is a common complaint that affects people of all ages. Knee pain may be the result of an injury, such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage. Medical conditions — including arthritis, gout and infections — also can cause knee pain.

Many types of minor knee pain respond well to self-care measures. Physical therapy and knee braces also can help relieve knee pain. In some cases, however, your knee may require surgical repair.

Different Types Of Knee Pain

Anterior Knee Pain

There are a number of sources of anterior knee pain, with many of them stemming from troubles with the patella (kneecap) and its related tendon patella tendon.  Indeed, the term patellofemoral pain syndrome or anterior knee pain syndrome are used as sweeping terms for any number of injuries that cause pain around or behind the knee cap. This anterior knee pain can be caused by a number of things, such as a dislocated or mistracking patella, tight muscles, over doing one’s workout or muscle imbalances, to name a few. (Bort offers a lightweight, zippered knee brace for easy application and support to the patella.)

Jumpers’ knee is another relatively common source of pain at the front of the knee that takes its name from the activity that is often associated with the injury. More specifically, patellar tendonitis results from the patellar tendon being overused or overstressed, resulting in painful inflammation as well as crepitus and stiffness if the condition is left untreated. There are a number of braces and patella straps designed for easing the pain and swelling associated with jumper’s knee. (Read about additional patellar tendonitis treatment options.) The Ossur CTI OTS Ligament Knee Brace may be recommended as part of the recovery process for a PCL tear or other ligament injuries. This brace is ideal for high-impact sports, such as football as well as water sports.

Knee Pain: Medial

The medial meniscus can also be torn from similar causes, resulting in much the same symptoms, except that the pain will be at the inner part of the knee—medial knee pain.

A medial collateral ligament sprain or tear can also cause interior knee pain. This ligament is responsible for keeping the inner part of the knee joint stable. It can be torn via impact to the outer part of the knee or due to a twist like one might experience in a skiing wipeout.  Besides medial knee pain, someone with a full or partial tear to the MCL will likely experience swelling, a catching or locking of the knee, and a feeling of instability.

The pes anserine bursa (a small, fluid-filled sack) is located at the bottom of the MCL where it attaches to the tibia and helps reduce friction associated with movement. If it becomes irritated via overuse or from putting too much stress on the knee joint, it can cause anterior medial knee pain. Tight muscles and muscular imbalances can also cause pes anserine bursitis knee pain, along with swelling around the inner part of the knee that may be warm to the touch. Discoloration and skin changes may also occur in association with this form of bursitis.

Medial plica are very thin folds of the joint lining, or synovial tissue, that covers the medial part of the knee. When this becomes inflamed via repetitive flexing and extending of the knee, plica tissues thicken, making them more apt to get caught on the femur or pinched between the thigh bone and the knee cap, causing a dull or aching medial knee pain, as well as a catching or locking sensation in the knee and crepitation (a crackling sensation/noise).

Lateral Knee Pain

Lateral knee pain refers to pain on the outer part of the knee closest to the hands. A common knee injury among distance runners and cyclists is iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS). The IT band runs from the hip to the tibia along the outer part of the leg. It can become irritated in the area around the outside of the knee where it slides back and forth over bone. Typically this knee pain and inflammation comes on gradually and the pain is most evident when doing said irritating activity.

Another source of lateral knee pain is injury to the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). This often occurs due to a sudden force through the inner side of the knee, as might occur during a tackle, or due to a sudden twist. An LCL injury typically results in lateral knee pain, swelling, bruising, stiffness and instability of the knee.

A lateral meniscus tear is another injury that can stem from a sudden force or twist of the knee, though this can also occur simply due to the wear of aging. The meniscus refers to two cartilage-like discs that cushion the knee. Besides lateral knee pain, injury to the lateral meniscus can cause swelling, instability or locking of the knee. It can also be difficult to straighten the knee when one has a lateral meniscus tear.