7 Causes of external knee pain
Knee pain can be caused by injuries, mechanical disorders, arthritis, inflammation and other conditions.
A knee injury can affect ligaments, tendons, bones, cartilage and the bursae surrounding the knee joint.
1) Meniscus injury
The meniscus consists of hard and elastic cartilage and lies like a shock absorber between the shin and femur.
The meniscus can rupture if the knee is abruptly turned (torsion) with the foot stable.
2) Strain or trauma of the common fibular nerve
The common fibularis nerve (common fibula nerve) is a branch of the sciatic nerve and runs along the outside of the leg.
This nerve causes the contraction of the fibula muscles that allow dorsiflexion, external rotation and abduction of the foot.
- discomfort and tingling in the leg;
- drooping foot;
- Loss of sensitivity on the outside and front of the leg.
3) Tendonitis of the squat muscles
The inflammation or degeneration of the tendon of the femoral flexor (biceps femoris muscle), one of the posterior thigh muscles, can cause pain on the outside of the knee.
The reason for this is that the tendon of this muscle attaches to the fibula, just below the knee joint.
In this area, there is pressure pain, which worsens when bending the knee against resistance.
There may also be pain and stiffness after exercise.
4) Lesion of the outer knee lateral ligament
The most common causes of pain on the outside of the knee include:
- cartilage damage in the outer knee area,
- Tear of the outer collateral ligament (ligamentum collaterale fibulare).
The main cause of lesions of the external collateral ligament is sudden trauma to the inside of the knee or an abrupt rotational movement, as a result of which excessive pressure is exerted on the outside of the knee, resulting in stretching or rupture of the ligament.
Typical symptoms of a lesion of the external collateral ligament:
- Pain on the outside of the knee
- Knee swelling
- Instability of the knee joint
5) Anterior cruciate ligament rupture (ACL rupture)
A lesion of the ACL refers to the tear of one of the four ligaments that connect the tibia to the femur.
An anterior cruciate ligament rupture is common in basketball, football and other sports with rapid changes of direction.
The pain occurs along the entire edge of the joint, i.e. on the inside and outside.
6) Iliobial ligament syndrome
The iliotibial ligament syndrome, tractus syndrome or runner’s knee becomes noticeable when the ligament connecting the hip and shin (iliotibial tract) shortens and rubs against the outside of the femur.
Runners are the athletes who most often suffer from iliotibial ligament syndrome. The pain occurs on the outside of the joint.
7) Osteochondrosis dissecans
Osteochondrosis dissecans is a disease in which a bone and cartilage fragment is rejected (Cahill – 1995), which can end up as a free joint body (joint mouse) (Schenck – 1996).
Children and adolescents are mainly affected (Zanon – 2014).
Typical signs and symptoms of osteochondrosis dissecans include:
- pain, it is the leading symptom of osteochondrosis dissecans, usually the left joint head of the knee is affected, the pain thus makes itself felt on the outside (Mestriner – 2012);
- joint blockage;
- limited range of motion; in some cases, the knee can not be fully stretched or bent;
As a rule, children recover over time, but in some cases surgery is required.
Risk factors for knee pain
There are several factors that increase the risk of knee joint discomfort, including:
- Overweight. In obesity and overweight, the knee joint is exposed to a higher load, even during ordinary everyday activities such as walking or climbing stairs. The overload increases the risk of osteoarthritis because the degeneration of the cartilage is accelerated.
- Mechanical malfunctions. Structural anomalies such as leg length difference, knee misalignments (O- or X-legs) and flat feet can promote the occurrence of knee complaints.
- Insufficient flexibility or muscle strength.
Lack of muscle raft and flexibility are among the main causes of knee pain. Shortened or weak muscles do not provide enough support because they do not absorb the tension exerted on the knee joint to a sufficient extent.
- Sports. Certain sports put excessive strain on the knee joint. Alpine skiers with their rigid ski boots risk falls and sprains, the jumps in basketball and volleyball cause joint trauma, while jogging the permanent use of the knee joint increases the risk of injury.
- Previous injuries. An old knee injury (for example, a dislocation of the knee) increases the likelihood of further complaints.