Five Common Reasons for Inside Knee Pain

Five Common Reasons for Inside Knee Pain, knee pain when walking up stairs

Medial knee pain (on the inside of the knee) can happen anytime to anyone, whether you play football, run, or do everyday gym work.

There are five common reasons that inside knee pain can happen. Today we will discuss these causes and provide you with tips on how to avoid knee injuries and how you can treat them. Let’s get started!

Inner Knee Pain – Overview


Knee pain results from different conditions or injuries. The most common reason for this pain results from the deterioration of cartilage. The inside of the knee is the medial compartment or medial knee. It is the area closest to the opposite knee. 

It can follow any form of trauma or sports injuries. The knee easily gets injured as it is a complex joint consisting of intersections of four ligaments, the cartilage, several tendons, and two menisci. 

What Muscle is on the Inside of Your Knee

Five muscles are found inside your knee, attaching to the medial compartment, which helps move your knee in multiple directions.

  • Semimembranosus
  • Semitendinosus
  • Medial gastrocnemius
  • Sartorius
  • Gracillis 

These muscles combined help you to bend or flex your knee. 

Inner Knee Pain Location Chart

When you look at a medial knee pain chart, you will notice a few problems that could cause the pain:

  • Medial meniscus tears
  • Medial collateral ligament injuries 
  • Arthritis of the joint
  • Bursitis that causes pain along the inside knee edge below the knee cap

For more detailed information on some of these concerns, keep reading!

What Causes Inner Knee Pain When Bending?

The pain can occur suddenly but could develop gradually. It can result from a torn cartilage, known as the medial meniscus injury. You will feel pain mostly with bending your knee or when you squat. Furthermore, you may experience swelling inside the knee, but it does not always happen. 

What Causes Inner Knee Pain When Sleeping?

Some common reasons for you to experience knee pain at night can result from:

  • Runner’s knee
  • Bursitis
  • Osteoarthritis 
  • Injuries 

Most of these conditions resolve when you rest your knee, but osteoarthritis is more chronic. 

What are Causes/Reasons for Inside Knee Pain


When it comes to inside knee pain, there are a few reasons and causes that could make this happen. Here we look at some of them. 


OA is a degenerative disease breaking down cartilage and causes the bone in joints to grind together. So when you experience inner knee pain putting pressure on the joint, like when walking up/down stairs or sitting down on your chair, it could be osteoarthritis. The pain, the pressure, and the symptoms could worsen as days pass. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is another autoimmune disease causing inner knee pain. With the disease, you find inflammation in the joints and may experience severe pain inside the knee in the morning. The symptoms start to decrease during the day. 

Medial Collateral Ligament 

When you look at the MCL, it runs along the outside of your medial knee and helps stabilize joints. When you overstretch it, you get an MCL sprain. Sometimes it can tear a bit or even fully. The common cause is after you apply force to your outer knee, like in contact sports. The symptoms can be swelling, unstable when walking, the knee locking, or you hear a popping sound at the time of impact. 

Medial Meniscus Injury 

The meniscus provides cushioning between the bones and joints. When it tears when rotating your knee or placed under pressure, it mostly happens during sports. You have two menisci in each of your knees. Both serve as cushions between the thigh and shin bones.

You can find four major meniscus tears the flap, degenerative, bucket handle, and radial. Depending on the type of tear, you can experience locking knees, stiffness, a sense of imbalance, or sharp pain when you twist your knee. 

Pes Anserine Bursitis 

The bursa is a small sac filled with fluid that helps reduce friction between your joints. You find several located in the body. You also find it in your knees between your MCL and the gracilis, sartorius, and semitendinosus tendons. 

Together they form the pes anserinus. When you overuse your bursa or become irritated, it extracts fluids causing swelling on the knee. The inflammation is called pes anserine bursitis. Several causes can result in this symptom a medial meniscus tear, tight hamstring muscles, OA, turning out your lower leg or knee while standing, and obesity.  

Inner Knee Pain Treatment

A knee injury is a common thing that can happen, but you can often resolve it at home. Yet, if the symptoms persist for more than three days, it can be a severe injury needing treatment by a doctor. 

Using Home Remedies 

If you have minor knee pain, you can treat it at home with a home remedy. The most common treatment is RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. With the method, it is best to try the following:

  • Do not do any activities that result in more pain
  • Where possible, use crutches to keep the weight off the knee
  • Use ice on the area up to four times daily for 20 minutes
  • Use an elastic compression bandage to wrap your knee
  • Lay with a pillow underneath your knee to help elevate it to a level higher than your heart

Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. You can take ibuprofen for the pain to help lessen the swelling. Visit your doctor if the symptoms persist longer than three days. 

Other Treatments 

See your doctor if the pain worsens after three days and your home remedies do not work. Your doctor may recommend other treatment methods for severe knee injuries:

  • You may get a steroid injection to treat something like pes anserine bursitis
  • You might need to go for physiotherapy to do stretching, ultrasound therapy, and exercises
  • If the injury is severe, you may also need to wear a knee brace when doing activities
  • Surgery might also be an option, mainly done with a meniscus tear

Inner Knee Pain Exercises


Unfortunately, not all inner knee pain can be prevented. According to doctors and physical therapists, it helps to strengthen your leg muscles, like your hamstrings and quadriceps, to avoid knee injury. Here are some helpful exercises you can try:

  • Leg extensions
  • Leg presses
  • Running and walking on an elliptical machine
  • Swimming
  • Using a recumbent or stationary bike
  • Straight leg lifts
  • Mini squats

Before starting any exercises, stretch your muscles, like your hamstrings and quadriceps. 


What Causes Pain at the Side of the Knee?

The lateral or outside knee pain could result from a lateral meniscus tear, osteoarthritis, injury to your lateral collateral ligament, or you may have iliotibial band syndrome. 

What Helps Inner Knee Pain?

The best remedy is the RICE method standing for rest, ice, compression, and elevation by staying off your knee as much as you can help. If your pain persists, we recommend visiting a doctor. 

What is the Most Common Reason for Knee Pain?

Some common reasons leading to medial knee pain could be injuries, knee stress, or ageing. Some of these problems can result from sprained or strained ligaments, tendonitis, arthritis, or cartilage tears.



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