Lateral (Outer) Knee Pain
Lateral knee pain, or pain that occurs on the outside of the knee, is a common complaint. The knee is a complex joint made of several structures that are easily injured. On the outside of the leg, these include the iliotibial band, the lateral collateral ligament, and the lateral meniscus.
The iliotibial band is connective tissue running down the outside of the thigh from the hip, along with the femur (thigh bone) to the patella (kneecap) and tibia (shin bone). Activities like running and cycling can cause irritation at the point where the iliotibial band rubs against the femur. Normally, this area is protected by bursae, but these small fluid-filled sacs can become inflamed and cause pain. This is known as Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome (ITBFS) and is worsened with poor hip control.
The lateral collateral ligament connects the femur to the fibula (calf bone) and is most commonly injured with direct trauma such as twisting or tackling. This sudden stress on the ligament causes it to stretch, or if it is severe enough, tear.
The lateral meniscus is crescent-shaped, thick cartilage that lies on top of the tibia and stabilises the knee while also as a shock absorber for the knee joint. The meniscus can be torn during a twisting motion, or it may degenerate over time with wear and tear.
Signs and Symptoms
- Pain and swelling, worse during activity
- Bruising around the knee joint
- Instability of the knee joint
- The stiffness of the knee joint
- Limited range of motion of the knee joint