The knee has been found to be the most common source of musculoskeletal pain in the body even though people are more likely to seek out care for their back pain.
The medial knee or the inner side of the knee, the bit directly facing it’s neighbour knee has a variety of structures that can be injured or cause pain. Fortunately the knee is one of the most treatable joints with manual therapy.
Determining the source of pain is always a good first step in solving problems. Purely statistically speaking the duck’s foot or ‘pes anserine’ tendon is the most likely culprit for medial knee pain. It’s called the dusk’s foot because three different muscle tendons join to become one the three of them sitting together look a little bit like a ducks foot when you dissect them down and look at them in all the gory detail. Because these three muscle tendons are so tightly packed they easily rub up against each other and it is thought that is why they become irritable. If as a child you were ever stuffed in the back of your car with your siblings on a family holiday you can probably imagine they strain they come under.
Fortunately this problem responds reasonably well to physical therapy, all the muscle involve start at the hip joint and it can often just be that a simple change of activity perhaps along with a hip treatment or two will solve the problem.
In the sporting world it is more common to suffer a blow to the medial knee, whether from another player making impact or a from a hockey stick or similar. This can result in sprain of the medial colateral ligament of the knee. This ligament stops the knee from waving side to side while you stand and if it is weakened the joint takes more strain and the muscles bear more load, both becoming pain generators. Usually such a strain may just need time and some strengthening exercises to return to capacity but in the odd case may require surgery.
The medial meniscus of the knee is the shock absorber of the joint it is very commonly referred to as the cartilage. It bears loads and is very stable but if you plant your foot solidly and give your knee a good twist, like what might occur in a tackle gone bad, you can give this cartilage a good tear. Sometimes this isn’t too much of a bother and sometimes it makes difficult to weight bear at all. This structure may also require surgery but tends to do very well with muscle strengthening and knee retraining exercises.
Of course there are many more delicate structures that may require evaluation and treatment but it is important to consider them careful and individually. If knee pain goes on for a long time it can become hip pain and back pain so it may be important to find its source and sort it out in a timely manner.