Sports injuries can be career-enders for athletes. On of the most difficult to resolve is pain on the inside of the knee. The average person, however, stands just as much chance of receiving a muscle or ligament injury in the category of sports-related injuries as the quarterback on a favored team. Knee injuries do not play favorites!
It is the injury most common in runners, and is clinically called a medial knee injury. Different strains, sprains, and twisting of muscles and joints can be the cause of pain inside the knee. The category of pain associated with such injuries is called medial knee pain and it is commonly seen by doctors specializing in sports health.
There are two general causes of medial knee pain. The first are medial ligament disorders. These are relatively serious injuries to the knee. The medial ligament aids in sideways motion and balance. Medial ligament disorders often mean other problems by default. Ligaments are very strong – any stress or traumas serious enough to injure them will undoubtedly cause collateral damage to the surrounding muscles and cartilage. Thus, pain on the inside of the knee may not only involve a ligament, it could involve other tissues, too.
Knee injuries usually result from sudden, jerky movements involving a twisting, landing motion (where the knee tends to collapse inward). Falling from a high place and landing on a straight, locked leg is common. The person sustaining the trauma might feel a tearing or actually hear an audible popping noise at the time of the damage. Swelling and sharp pain follow, and constant throbbing and limping are next.
There are degrees of this kind of injury. The first, a slight strain, means the ligament has been overextended and may take from 2 to 3 weeks to return to normal. The next is a slight tear in which the ligament is pulled away and takes up to six weeks to heal. Finally, the most severe is a complete ligament rupture (detachment) which requires surgery and about six months of convalescing and physical therapy afterward.
The other kind of pain inside the knee is from a medial cartilage tear. The cartilage of the knee, the meniscus, lies between the thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia). There are two menisci in each knee; they act as shock absorbers.
The menisci distribute the body’s weight evenly over the knee to allow fluid locomotion. Uneven distribution causes excessive forces leading to early damage. This is why almost all overweight and morbidly obese people have knee trouble – the body’s design was to carry only so much weight at that stress point comfortably.
Slight injuries to the knee’s cartilage will repair themselves over time. However, this will be a slow process – most of the meniscus is avascular (has no blood vessels in it). It gets its healing nutrients mostly from surrounding tissues, and any restriction in these vessels (as from tearing of muscle or a ligament) can cause the cartilage to fail to heal. In the end, surgery may be required to correct more seriously torn cartilage and the pain on the inside of the knee it causes.