Where Does Your Knee Hurt?

Although diagnosing knee pain is a job for a skilled physician, the location of your pain may tell you something about the cause behind the symptoms.

Your knee is a complex joint. Sometimes diagnosing knee pain is a straightforward task, and sometimes an accurate diagnosis is a more complicated process. An orthopedic physician will consider a number of individual factors to determine the cause of knee pain, including the following:

  • Your age
  • The activities you do regularly
  • The length of time you have experienced pain
  • Any knee injuries you may have had

The location of the pain can tell a physician a lot about the cause behind knee pain symptoms. We have listed the locations where knee pain frequently occurs, and explain what these symptoms might mean.

  • Front of knee. If you experience pain over the front of your knee, the kneecap may be the cause.
  • Inside the knee. Pain on the inside of the knee is commonly caused by medial meniscus tears, injury to the medial collateral ligament (one of four major ligaments critical to the stability of the knee joint), or arthritis.
  • Outside of knee. Pain located on the outside of the knee is probably caused by lateral meniscus tears, injury to the lateral collateral ligament that connects the end of the thigh bone to the top of the smaller shin bone on the outside of the knee to prevent excessive side-to-side movement of the knee joint), IT band tendonitis (inflammation of a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the leg from the hip to just below the knee joint to provide stability to the outside of the knee joint), or arthritis.
  • Back of knee. When the back of your knee feels painful, it may be due to the collection of fluid, called a Baker’s Cyst.

Your doctor will conduct a thorough examination of your knee and perform appropriate tests to make a diagnosis and establish a treatment plan.

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