Inner Knee Pain After Running

Understanding Medial Knee Pain

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Pain in the inner knee, also known as medial knee pain, can prevent you from walking and running normally. Sometimes, inner knee pain after running is called runner's knee, although the medical community accepts runner's knee as a generalized pain around your knee that comes on while running.

Your inner knee pain can come on suddenly or gradually, and it may occur without any specific traumatic event. It may happen when you are not running. It is often managed conservatively with stretches and strengthening exercises, but some people benefit from more invasive treatments such as injections or surgery.

knee swelling pain

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Runner's Knee Symptoms

Symptoms of runner's knee may be varied and may include:

  • Pain in the medial aspect of your knee joint
  • Swelling in your knee
  • Sharp pains underneath your kneecap
  • Difficulty running, climbing stairs, or rising from a seated position

Inner knee pain is usually intermittent and occurs during running or immediately after running, or it may come on from any activity that puts stress through your knee joint. The pain can limit your ability to painlessly bend or straighten your knee, and it often occurs during weight-bearing activity such as stair climbing.

Causes

Runner's knee may be caused by different factors. The causes of inner knee pain may include:

When you are running or walking, the best position for your knee is directly over your foot. Sometimes, flat feet cause your lower leg to turn in. This may lead to increased stress on the medial aspect of your knee joint, causing pain.

If you are having pain on the inner aspect of your knee, you should see your physician right away to get an accurate diagnosis of your condition.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing inner knee pain can be challenging. Why? Because sometimes there is not one cause of the problem. Rather, multiple impairments may be present that can be causing your pain. Figuring out which impairments are causing your runner's knee is the key to proper treatment.

Common diagnostic tests for runner's knee may include:

During the physical examination for inner knee pain, your physician or physical therapist will assess various structures around your knee. This exam may include:

Once you have an accurate diagnosis of your inner knee pain, you can get started on the right treatment for your specific condition.

Treatment of Inner Knee Pain

There are various treatments for inner knee pain caused by walking or running. These range from simple to more invasive. With the right treatment, you can expect your medial knee pain to go away in a few short weeks.

Home Remedies

Home remedies for inner knee pain can decrease your pain and improve your overall mobility. Home remedies may include:

  • Ice: Application of ice can help decrease pain and inflammation by limiting excess blood flow to your injured knee. Ice can decrease swelling as well, allowing your knee to move fully through its range of motion. Ice is usually applied during acute bouts of pain or immediately after onset of knee pain. Ice your knee for 10 to 15 minutes several times a day.
  • Heat: Heat has been shown to increase blood flow and improve tissue mobility. It can be applied a few days after onset of pain to help your knee move and feel better. Heat may also be used prior to performing stretching to improve general tissue mobility. It should be applied for 10 to 15 minutes, but care should be taken to avoid burning your skin.
  • Medication: Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication may be used to decrease pain and swelling of your inner knee pain, and analgesics can be used to decrease pain. Be sure to contact your physician before taking any medication to ensure that it is safe for you.
  • Exercise: Exercises may include stretches for tight muscles or resistance exercises for muscles that may be weak. Stretches for the hamstrings, quadriceps, and hips improve thigh and knee mobility. Strengthening exercises include resistance exercises for the quads, hamstrings, and gluteus medius. Strengthening these muscles improves knee kinematics and position while walking and running.
  • Changing footwear or using shoe inserts: If flat feet are causing inward rotation of your knee joint, supporting the medial arch of your foot with new shoes or inserts may be helpful.

If your inner knee pain after running persists, it's a good idea to see your physician.

When to Call a Doctor

There are a few times when you should consider calling your physician for your inner knee pain. These instances may include:

  • Inner knee pain due to trauma
  • Pain that lasts more than a few weeks
  • Pain that significantly limits your ability to move around
  • Pain that is accompanied by feelings of being unwell, such as fever, malaise, or unexplained weight loss. (Although rare, this could be a sign of a tumor or malignancy in your body.)

Most episodes of inner knee pain get better within of few weeks of onset or after starting conservative treatments. Pain that persists should be checked by your physician so the appropriate medical treatment can be started.

Medical Treatments

For persistent inner knee pain after running, you may have to visit your physician for move invasive treatments for your pain. Your physician may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in bone and joint problems.

Medical treatments that may be offered for your inner knee pain may include:

  • Prescription anti-inflammatory medicine: Medication may be given to you to decrease knee pain and inflammation. Some medication, like Voltaren gel, can be applied topically to your knee to decrease swelling and pain around the joint.
  • Physical therapy: You may benefit from physical therapy to help you determine the mechanical causes of your knee pain. Your therapist can prescribe exercises and movements that help strengthen muscles and improve flexibility and range of motion around your knee.
  • Cortisone injections: For persistent inflammation in your knee, your physician may inject a strong anti-inflammatory corticosteroid. This medicine bathes the structures inside your knee in anti-inflammatory medicine, decreasing pain and swelling in the joint.
  • Viscosupplement injections: If osteoarthritis is causing your medial knee pain, there may be a lack of lubricant inside the joint, leading to abnormal rubbing of the joint surfaces. A medication that mimics the lubricant inside your knee joint may be injected to improve the way your knee's joint surfaces glide and slide past one another, leading to decreased inner knee pain.
  • Knee surgery: If your knee pain persists after trying conservative and medical treatments, you may benefit from surgery to correct the problem.

Surgery may be simple; arthroscopic knee surgery involves a few tiny incisions to gain access to your knee. From there, the joint surfaces can be debrided and the meniscus that resides in your knee may be repaired.

If severe osteoarthritis is causing your knee pain, your surgeon may recommend a partial knee replacement or total knee joint replacement. This is considered major surgery and involves your surgeon cutting away the arthritic joint surfaces and replacing them with metal prostheses.

Surgery for medial knee pain should only be considered as a last resort once all other treatments have failed. Most people who have arthroscopic knee surgery return to pain-free walking within four to six weeks. More complex knee surgical procedures, like a total knee replacement, may require about six months of dedicated rehab to get back to normal.

Keep in mind that each person is different and has different needs for their knee pain. Having a discussion with your physician about the best course of treatment for you is an important step in getting appropriate care for your inner knee pain.

A Word From Verywell

Inner knee pain that occurs while running or after running can be a challenging thing to treat. There may be many different bio-mechanical causes of your pain, and treatments may range from a few simple exercises to more invasive injections or surgery.

Working closely with your physician or surgeon and understanding the treatments available can help you make the right decisions regarding your care. That way, you can be sure to quickly and safely return to your previous level of pain-free activity.

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