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Inside Knee Pain After Running: What You Need to Know

Inside Knee Pain After Running: What You Need to Know

Introduction

Inside knee pain after running is a common complaint among athletes and recreational runners alike. This often leads to frustration and the potential for more serious injuries if not addressed properly. In fact, according to research, knee injuries account for 50% of all running injuries, emphasizing the seriousness of this issue. This blog aims to delve into the complexities of inside knee pain from running, offering insights and advice to help you stay on track pain-free.

What is Inside Knee Pain?

Inside knee pain, also known as medial knee pain, is a condition characterized by discomfort or pain on the inner aspect of the knee, where the structure is particularly vulnerable to stress and injury. The knee joint is a complex system of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons that work together to support the body’s weight and enable a wide range of movement. Due to its critical role in everyday activities such as walking, running, and jumping, the knee is subjected to considerable force, especially in athletes and individuals with active lifestyles.

The inner side of the knee comprises components like the medial meniscus, medial collateral ligament (MCL), and the articular cartilage. These components are important in stabilizing and distributing weight across the knee joint. However, this area can become a hotspot for pain due to various reasons, ranging from acute injuries like sprains and tears to chronic conditions such as knee osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms of Inside Knee Pain 

Pain

The sensation of pain inside the knee can range from a dull ache to a severe, sharp pain, often localized to the inner side of the knee. This pain can be triggered by specific activities such as running, climbing stairs, or even after prolonged periods of sitting. The intensity of the pain might fluctuate throughout the day, typically worsening during or after activity and improving with rest.

Swelling

Swelling in the knee is a common response to injury or inflammation within the joint or its surrounding structures. It can present itself in various forms, from a slight puffiness around the knee joint to significant swelling that makes the knee appear enlarged. Swelling can lead to additional symptoms, such as warmth to the touch or redness around the affected area. It may contribute to the stiffness and limited mobility experienced by the individual.

Stiffness

Stiffness in the knee can manifest as a sensation of tightness or resistance when attempting to move the joint, particularly after periods of inactivity. Morning stiffness is a common complaint, where the knee feels particularly rigid upon waking. This stiffness can gradually improve with movement as the day progresses. However, it can severely limit the range of motion, making it challenging to perform basic movements like walking, bending, or squatting.

Instability

Instability is the feeling that the knee is not stable or might give out, especially when bearing weight or changing directions suddenly. This sensation can be concerning and may lead to a lack of confidence in the knee’s ability to support the body’s weight, potentially increasing the risk of falls or further knee injury. Instability often points to underlying issues such as ligament damage or weakness in the knee muscles.

Popping or Crunching Noises

Popping, crunching, or grinding noises (crepitus) coming from the knee during movement can be alarming and indicate various conditions. While these sounds are not always indicative of a serious problem, they warrant further investigation if accompanied by pain or discomfort.

Limited Mobility

Limited mobility refers to the decreased ability to move the knee through its normal range of motion. This limitation can affect daily activities, making it difficult to straighten or bend the knee fully. This symptom can perpetuate a cycle of reduced physical activity, leading to further stiffness and weakening of the knee joint and surrounding muscles.

Causes of Inside Knee Pain

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury

The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) plays a crucial role in stabilizing the knee by preventing it from bending inward. A sudden injury, which ranges from a mild sprain to a complete tear. It typically occurs due to sudden twists or direct impacts to the outer side of the knee, such as those experienced in contact sports or slip-and-fall accidents.

Medial Meniscus Tear

The medial meniscus, a C-shaped piece of cartilage located between the femur and tibia, serves as a cushion and stabilizer for the knee joint. Tears in the medial meniscus often result from twisting movements, sudden pivots, or the degeneration associated with aging.

Arthritis

Arthritis in the knee can take several forms, with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis being the most common condition. Osteoarthritis, the wear-and-tear type, leads to the degeneration of cartilage in the knee, resulting in bone-on-bone contact that causes pain, swelling, and reduced mobility. Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition, causes inflammation of the knee joint’s lining, leading to similar symptoms. Both conditions can severely impact the inside of the knee, worsening pain during movement.

Pes Anserine Bursitis

Pes anserine bursitis involves inflammation of the bursa located between the MCL and the tendons of the hamstring muscle. This condition is often the result of overuse, particularly in athletes who engage in activities requiring frequent bending and straightening of the knee.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Commonly known as runner’s knee, patellofemoral pain syndrome is characterized by pain around or behind the kneecap. This condition is typically the result of prolonged activities that exert pressure on the knee, such as running, squatting, and jumping. The pain is often worsened by activities that involve knee bending and may be accompanied by a sensation of grinding or clicking.

Medial Plica Syndrome

The medial plica is a fold of synovial tissue within the knee. Medial plica syndrome occurs when this fold becomes irritated, often due to overuse or injury, leading to inflammation and pain on the inner side of the knee. 

Gout or Pseudogout

Gout and pseudogout are types of arthritis resulting from the accumulation of crystal deposits within the knee joint. Uric acid crystals cause gout, while pseudogout is caused by calcium pyrophosphate crystals. Both conditions can lead to sudden, severe episodes of pain, swelling, and redness in the knee, often waking sufferers from sleep. Intense pain and inflammation can significantly impact mobility and quality of life.

Why Does the Inside of My Knee Hurt After I Run?

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Running exerts significant stress on the knees, especially on the inner parts where the structure is more prone to wear and tear due to the repetitive impact and the body’s weight distribution. Factors contributing pain on inside of knee after running include improper running technique, overuse, inadequate footwear, and running on uneven surfaces. These conditions can worsen existing vulnerabilities in the knee’s anatomy, leading to the common complaint of pain inside the knee after running.

Effective Treatment Options for Inside Knee Pain

Rest

The first and most crucial step in treating inside knee pain running is to allow the affected knee to rest. Avoid activities that worsen the pain, including running, until the discomfort subsides.

Ice and Cold Therapy

Applying ice packs to the injured area can reduce inflammation and numb the pain. It’s recommended to ice your knee for 15-20 minutes every few hours during the initial days following the onset of pain.

Medication

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help relieve pain and reduce swelling. However, it’s essential to use these medications carefully and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Knee Braces and Supports

A knee support or brace can stabilize the knee joint and distribute the weight more evenly, reducing stress on the inner knee.

Drainage

In cases of severe swelling, a medical professional may need to drain excess fluid from the knee joint to relieve pressure and pain.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can design a tailored exercise program to strengthen the muscles around the knee, improve flexibility, and reduce the risk of future injuries. This conservative treatment is important for long-term recovery and prevention.

Prevention Strategies for Inside Knee Pain

Lead an Active Lifestyle

Regular exercise can strengthen the legs and improve joint health, reducing the risk of knee pain. However, it’s important to choose activities that do not overload the knees.

Manage Your Weight and Eat a Healthy Diet

Excess weight puts additional stress on the knees. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet can alleviate this pressure and prevent pain.

Stretch Often

Stretching before and after running helps maintain flexibility, reduces muscle tension, and decreases the risk of injuries.

Wear Sturdy, Proper Shoes

Invest in high-quality running shoes that offer adequate support and cushioning. Proper footwear can significantly impact the distribution of force through the knee joint.

Exercise and Physical Therapy

Exercise and physical therapy are cornerstone treatments for managing inside knee pain, emphasizing the strengthening of muscles surrounding the knee to enhance joint stability and flexibility. Tailored exercise programs developed by physical therapists target specific muscle groups to relieve stress on the knee joint, ultimately reducing pain and preventing future injuries. 

Rehabilitation and Return to Running

Running

Rehabilitation plays a critical role in the recovery process from inside knee pain running, serving as the bridge between injury and a safe return to running. It encompasses a tailored set of physical therapy exercises aimed at restoring strength, flexibility, and stability to the knee joint and surrounding muscles. The primary goal is to address the root cause of the pain, whether it’s an MCL injury, meniscus tear, or any of the other conditions discussed, and to ensure the knee is strong enough to withstand the high-impact nature of running.

A gradual return to running is paramount to avoid re-injury or worsening existing conditions. Initially, low-impact cardiovascular exercises such as cycling or swimming may be recommended to maintain fitness while minimizing stress on the knee. As strength and mobility improve, walking can transition into light jogging, followed by a structured running plan that gradually increases in intensity and duration. Throughout this process, listening to the body and communicating with healthcare professionals to adjust the rehabilitation program as needed is essential.

Ignoring the importance of a carefully managed rehabilitation and return-to-running plan can not only delay recovery but also increase the risk of chronic knee issues.

Seeking Professional Help

When inside knee pain persists, intensifies, or disrupts daily activities, seeking help from healthcare professionals is critical. This step is essential not only for relieving symptoms but also for preventing potential long-term damage. Professional consultation should be considered if:

  • Pain Persists: If pain continues despite rest and home care over a week. This indicates that it may not simply be a minor running injury.
  • Severe Pain: Sudden, severe pain that inhibits movement or daily activities warrants immediate medical attention.
  • Swelling and Changes in Knee Appearance: Significant swelling or noticeable changes in the knee’s appearance could indicate a more serious condition.
  • Functional Limitations: Difficulty bearing weight on the knee, a feeling of instability, or restricted movement range.

Healthcare professionals can diagnose the underlying cause of knee pain using advanced diagnostic tools, offer targeted treatments, and, if necessary, direct you to specialists. Early and informed intervention can significantly enhance recovery prospects, ensuring a safe and effective return to daily activities and running.

Conclusion

In conclusion, inside knee pain after running can be a frustrating obstacle, but it can be effectively managed and prevented with the right knowledge and approach. By understanding the causes, adopting comprehensive treatment strategies, and implementing preventive measures, runners can protect their knees and enjoy pain-free running.

If you’re experiencing specific challenges such as inside knee pain after running, seeking professional guidance from Max Performance Therapy can make a significant difference. Take the first step towards a pain-free journey and unlock your full potential with tailored physical therapy performance. Schedule your consultation now.

FAQs

Why does the inner side of my knee hurt after running?

The inner side of the knee may hurt after running due to overuse, improper running technique, inadequate footwear, or underlying conditions such as MCL injury or meniscus tears.

How do you strengthen the inside of your knees?

Strengthening the inside of your knees can be achieved through targeted exercises that focus on the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles, as well as exercises that improve overall leg stability and flexibility.

Does inner knee pain go away?

Yes, with proper treatment, rest, and preventive measures, inner knee pain can significantly improve or completely resolve. However, the key to recovery is addressing the underlying cause of the pain and implementing appropriate interventions.

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