What Causes Pain in the Outer Side of the Knee?

Knee pain can be caused by dozens of different reasons. The location of the pain is an important clue in understanding the cause of the problem and making a diagnosis. Different problems stand out for anterior knee pain , pain on the inner side of the knee, pain on the outer side of the knee, pain felt inside the joint, pain felt behind the knee .

The main problems that cause pain in the outer side of the knee are iliotibial band syndrome , external meniscus damage and external lateral ligament injury.

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  1. Iliotibial Band Syndrome
  2. Perilateral Ligament Injury
  3. External Meniscus Tear or Damage
  4. Calcification of the Outer Half of the Knee Joint
  5. Superior Tibiofibular Joint Injury

1. Iliotibial Band Syndrome

People involved in running, cycling and endurance sports may develop iliotibial band friction syndrome associated with overuse. In iliotibial band syndrome, pain is seen on the outer side of the knee. Pain is exacerbated by activities that force this ligament.

The iliotibial band is a thick connective tissue on the outside of the thigh that extends from the hip to the knee. It starts in the upper part of the hip from the muscles called tensor fascia lata and gluteus maximus , and ends in the outer lower part of the knee. It has a role in hip stability and keeping the hips aligned when on one leg . In the lower part of the thigh, it acts as a ligament that supports the kneecap from the side. Iliotibial band tension can cause a problem called “runner’s knee” and kneecap alignment disorders.

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The iliotibial band rubs as the knee bends and unfolds on the lateral femoral condyle at the lower end of the thighbone . Normally, there are tissues that reduce friction, but inflammation (inflammation) may occur in these tissues due to excessive use or another reason . When there is inflammation, it becomes painful to bend and unbend the knee . The iliotibial band jumps over the lateral femoral condyle when we bend the knee over 30 degrees . So, bending motion less than 30 degrees is not too painful. With iliotibial band syndrome, the person does not bend the knee to avoid pain, which leads to stiffness in the leg.

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In the Treatment of Iliotibial Band Syndrome:

  • In the acute period, rest, cold application , pain relievers may be recommended.
  • Massage , stretching exercises and the use of physical therapy agents ( TENS , Ultrasound ) are effective.
  • PRP injections have been very preferred in recent years in solving this problem. Corticosteroid injections are also
  • If these treatments are not effective, iliotibial band release surgery may be considered.

2. Perilateral Ligament Injury

One of the possible causes of pain in the outer side of the knee is the lateral collateral ligament injury. The lateral lateral ligament can be injured by a blow to the inside of the knee. This kind of blow can occur in a double fight to get the ball in football. The force on the inside of the knee causes the knee to bend outward and overstretch the lateral lateral ligament. The outer lateral ligament may tear. When the lateral ligament is injured or torn, symptoms such as pain, swelling, bruising, stiffness in the knee and abnormal movement (instability) are seen on the outer side of the knee. Rest, cold application, pain medication, exercise and physical therapy can be applied in the treatment. PRP and prolotherapy injections can also be preferred.

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3. External Meniscus Tear or Damage

The meniscus is a shock-absorbing, suspending cartilage tissue located between the thigh (femur) bone and the tibia (tibia). Each knee joint has two menisci, inner (medial) and outer (lateral) .

The menisci may be damaged in the sudden forces the knee is exposed to or sprains involving the rotational movement of the knee . As a part of aging, the menisci wear out over time.

In external meniscus damage , complaints of external lateral knee pain, swelling, decreased stability of the knee, and locking of the knee may occur. It may be difficult to straighten the knee in an external meniscus injury . The use of knee pads can support the joint and reduce complaints.

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4. Calcification of the Outer Half of the Knee Joint

Knee joint calcification ( osteoarthritis or more specifically gonarthrosis) usually affects the inside of the knee. The cartilage layer in the inner half of the knee becomes thinner and the joint space narrows. For this reason, the pain of knee arthritis is felt more on the inside at first, and when the arthritis progresses, the pain spreads to the whole knee. Up to 10% of patients have a condition called lateral compartment osteoarthritis; that is, calcification starts from the outer side of the knee. The external onset of calcification sometimes happens for an unknown reason, sometimes it is related to previous traumas of the knee.

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5. Superior Tibiofibular Joint Injury

The joint made by the tibia (tibia) bone and the calf (fibula) bone in the lower part of the knee is called the superior tibiofibular joint . This joint can be damaged due to trauma, calcification, muscle imbalance, overuse, masses such as ganglion-tumor . It can cause complaints such as pain, swelling, a feeling of weakness in the knee, a feeling of discharge in the outer part of the knee.


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