Lateral knee pain (pain on the outside area of the knee)


Lateral knee pain


Description:- Pain on the outside (or lateral) area of the knee is present for a number of reasons. Ranging from a mild lateral ligament strain to lateral compartment arthriitis. The lateral knee pain can alos be related to other soft tissue issues on the outside of the thigh (Iliotibial band syndrome)

The description of pain can vary dependant on the problem. Sharp pain which has started very recently is likely to be related to an injury. Any pain that is an ache or has gradually built up over weeks, months or years can be a sign of more significant issues


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Causes of lateral knee pain:-

  • Illiotibial (IT) band syndrome:- Often when increasing activitity a gradual build up of tightness can build up on the outside area of the knee and thigh, sometimes radiating up to the outside area of the hip. This occurs when the illiotibial band rubs backward and forwards on the outside of the knee over prolonged periods of walking, running or cycling. This then become inflamed tight and painful. Stretching exercises, and sports massage are advocated to help manage the symptoms.                                                                           IT band syndrome can sometomes be a sign of poor biomechanics and as such a full biomechanical assessment is recommended as rotation due to over pronation or under pronation may be contributing to these symptoms

  • Lateral collateral strain/tear:- Often after a twisting movement usually when playing sports that require short sharp movements this injury can occur. a planted football stud follwed by a twist or a tackle can often result in this type of injury. A relatively sharp pain particularly when trying to turn is felt, swelling may also be present. Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation is required with a Physiotherapy assessment would be recommended, as well as knee bracing to protect the ligament either in the stages of healing or to prevent future  damage. More serious ligamentous injuries may also have instability in this area and requires urgent assessment and diagnosis to check the level of injury present.

  •   Lateral meniscal tear:- Pain in the lateral area which can also be related to twisting but in older patients can occur much easier if wear and tear is present in the knee. Again, swelling and pain may be present. Another indication of a meniscal tear may be a knee that looks for no reason. Referral to a Physiotherapist or GP is recommended

  • Osteoarthritis:- More longstanding pain in this area´╗┐ can be related to degeneration of the cartilage, where the protective joint surfaces have worn aware to some degree. Persistant pain is often present, swelling and in some cases the knee can start to change the alignment of the knee.                                                                                                                    ´╗┐Knee bracing can be used help protect the knee and help offload the area of the knee which has worn down
    Eventually surgery may be required to either replace the knee (knee replacement) or re-alignment of the knee to help change the loading of the knee (tibial osteotomy).