Knee Injury Diagnosis – Knee Pain Location Guide


Accurate knee injury diagnosis can only be provided by doctor. With the availability of hi-tech and advanced diagnostic tools, healthcare professionals and doctors can accurately diagnose your knee pain and help you take a proper decision on the best treatment option. This guide is provided just to help you understand some common injuries and knee pain location. This knee injury diagnosis guide cannot be a real substitute to your doctor’s precious guidance.

knee injury diagnosisKnee is most important joint in the body, which bear and support your entire body’s weight. Whatever you do i.e. running, walking, sprinting, squatting, kicking, sitting, jumping, etc., knee is in action. If something gets wrong with your knee, your daily activities might be interrupted. Knee pain can be due to various causes i.e. arthritis, runner’s knee, housemaids knee, etc.

If you are experiencing knee pain in the recent times, chances are you’re not alone because it has become one of the most common injuries of our time.

We can determine the type of knee injury or knee pain with the help of

Section 1: Knee Pain Symptoms: Identifying & Diagnosing the Problem

Section 2: Knee Injury Diagnosis: Knee Pain Location Guide (YOU ARE HERE)

Section 3:  Knee Pain Diagnosis: How did the pain Started?

Identifying the exact location of pain in the knees will be useful in recuperating from any knee problem. Once the root cause of pain is identified, we are on the road to recovery. So, we have created an easy guide below according to the knee pain location to help you to identify the injury.

1) Pain in Front of Knee – Anterior Knee Pain

Anterior Knee PainThe pain in the front of the knee is extremely common among teenagers, professional athletes and manual workers. It is generally referred as anterior knee pain. The pain will worsen by any daily activity such as walking, climbing stairs, sitting, and sporting. The front knee pain can only be relieved by rest. The following injuries can be the ideal source of knee pain front of knee.

Runner’s knee is one of the most causes of front of knee pain. If you regularly walk a lot or take longer walks, then this condition can be the reason for the pain. The ache can be felt in patella (kneecap) followed with mild swelling and grinding. It is also referred to as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome.

If you are feeling sudden pain, bruising and swelling around the knee, then you may have knee sprain. The unexpected ache followed with painful movement can be due to knee sprain.

People affected with arthritis will also feel gradual pain in the anterior region of knee, which will gain momentum over a period of time. It also results in grinding sensation and stiffness in the early morning. The pain can be extremely painful and hurting in cold weather.

Bursa is sac filled with synovial fluid, which acts as a cushion between the bones and tendons in the joint. Bursa allows free movement and if there is any damage to this sac, then warmth and swelling may appear on the front region of knee. This condition is called bursitis, which often causes due to overuse of knees and sometimes, as a result of knee trauma.

Cartilage is flexible tissue which connects joint and not as hard as bone but more stiffer than muscle. If cartilage experience injury, then it can lead to inflammation and severe pain in the front of the knee. You will feel difficulty in strengthening your leg and knee will get struck or locked frequently.

2) Pain Behind Knee – Posterior Knee Pain

Posterior knee painKnee is most important part of the body for quick and easy movement.  Any slight pain behind knee cap can hinder your daily activities and even hold you back from walking. Pain behind the knee joint has become common among younger people because of high level of sporting activities. Below are the some of the most common causes of behind the knee pain.

Arthritis is the major cause of sharp pain behind knee, which usually occurs in middle-age people to older people. It can lead to disability, when the pain is moderate to severe.  Arthritis are of many kinds and the two popular conditions that affects knee pain behind knee are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The former is caused due to inflammation and latter is caused due to wear and tear. Redness, warmth and swelling is the major symptoms. Sometime, fever is also followed with moderate pain.

Another condition, which causes pain behind knees is Baker’s Cyst, which is also called as Popliteal Cyst that causes swelling sensation at the back of the knee. The swelling of popliteal bursa will look like golf ball or water balloon and will cause soreness behind knee. Normal activities like walking, bending, kneeling and straightening will also be affected because of severe pain.

Many athletes are often diagnosed with tear or injury to ligament, which are flexible and strong tissues that connects two bones in the joint. They will tear away after sudden twist, trauma or awkward landing during sports. The common ligament injury is ACL tear (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) that will cause massive behind knee pain and  warmth along the joint. Visit your doctor as soon as possible because ignoring the pain can further damage your knee.

The pain behind the knee can also be due to meniscus injury, which happens after damage to the cartilage. Cartilage is located under the knee acts like a shock absorber. It can tear away after injury or as we age. It will result in severe pain, inflammation, stiffness in the morning and instability. Sometimes, your knee will get locked or struck, when you sit in one position for long time. This condition is most common among young athletic individuals.

If you are feeling massive leg pain behind knee, then you may be affected with hamstring injury, which are common to many athletes involved in soccer, football, basketball, hockey, skating, running, etc.  Hamstring strain causes muscle pain behind knee and it is actually painful and uncomfortable. According to the severity of the injury, it might takes weeks to months to properly heal the injury.

3) Inner Knee Pain – Medial Knee Pain

medial Knee PainMedial knee pain is the pain on inside of knee, which often causes due to severe knee injury or can be result of number of other knee problems. The pain inside knee arises steadily over a period of time and if an injury happens in the meantime, it can increase massively resulting in limited movement.

If you are experiencing serious inner knee pain, then it might be due to medial collateral ligament tear, which is regarded as serious knee injury. The ligament is a tissue which holds two bones and there are three grades in injury.

Medial collateral ligament sprain (slight) – Requires 2-3 weeks

Medial collateral ligament tear (slight) – Requires 4-6 weeks

Medial collateral ligament rupture (complete) – Requires nearly 6 months

In this mcl injury, some other cartilage, medial meniscus, and surrounding quadriceps muscles are also damaged. Severe pain, tenderness and locking is followed with inflammation and patient will unable to walk normally as he or she will limp.

Mensci, made of cartilage is located between two joints. It acts like a shock absorber and distribute the weight of the entire upper body evenly across the knee joint. Sudden twisting can cause a tear in the menisci resulting in medial cartilage tear or medial meniscus tear, which results in inside knee pain. The consequences will be swelling, locking and even straightening the leg will be a painful affair. The damage will create uneven weight distribution and cause sensation of instability in the knees.

Osteoarthritis (wear and tear) may be another problem for your pain on the inside of the knee, wherein the pain grows slowly after a lengthy idleness or inactivity. It generally happens to old age or above 50 people. The pain will be serious in cold weather. Deep aching sensation, stiffness in knee, swelling and popping sound is also experienced in osteoarthritis.

4) Pain on Outside of Knee – Lateral Knee Pain

lateral Knee PainLateral knee pain is caused on the outside of knee due to damage to ligament or cartilage. The pain gradually develops  over a period of time and upon any injury, it will cause severe pain and ache. The epicenter of the pain will on the side of the knee but you will even feel slight pain around the entire knee.

The first reason for pain on outside of knee can be Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), which is often caused due to overuse of knee and irritation to Iliotibial band. The Iliotibial band is made of tough tissues that runs from hip to tibia, a bone in leg. Sudden increase in normal activities will develop this condition such as runners increasing their distance or starting summer running classes. The pain will be severe followed with inflammation, which will result in hindrance in performing your everyday activities.  The outer knee pain will worsen upon descending downstairs or downhill.

Cartilage is a tissue lined on the outer side of the joint. It will develop tear due to overuse of knee, degenerative changes, sudden twisting and traumatic injury.  This condition is called as Lateral Meniscus Tear.  Tenderness, ache, inflammation, knee locking and difficulty in straightening your leg will be felt during the lateral meniscus injury. You will feel severe pain while bending your knee or squatting down.

The most common injury associated with outside knee pain is Lateral collateral ligament injury (LCL), which is damage or injury to the ligament lined outside the knee. The LCL injury has three grades of sprains i.e. stretch, partial tear and complete tear. Inflammation, instability, locking and bruising are some of the common symptoms of LCL injury. You should ensure that you stop all sporting activities until and unless the pain as well as swelling go away.

5) Pain Below Knee

Pain Below KneeKneecap also called as patella is a supporting bone for the muscles. The pain below knee is often associated with patella and most common reason for pain below knee is Patellofemoral pain or runner’s knee. The most vulnerable target of this condition are athletes, who are often diagnosed with runner’s knee. However, normal people will also experience runner’s knee due to poor stretching and muscle imbalance.

Pes Anserine (Knee Tendon) Bursitis can also be the reason for knee pain below knee cap. This condition will develop an inflammation of bursa above shin bone and below knee cap. Slight pain and tenderness will be felt in your knee. The pain just below knee will hurt you more when you try to move it. It will look ugly i.e. reddish and swollen.

Patellar tendon is tough tissue connecting kneecap and shinbone. An injury or swelling due to overuse will result in jumper’s knee or patellar tendonitis or patellar tendinopathy. The injury is generally caused due to frequent jumping, squatting, running or other high intensity sporting activities. Jumper’s knee is not a minor in jury so you should be careful if you experience sharp pain right below knee.

Osgood Schlatter can be another reason for severe pain just below knee. But, it causes generally in adolescents, mostly in 9-16 age group. Children involved in running, jumping, kicking, etc will most probably will experience this condition. Swelling like bony lump will also appear below the knee cap.

6) Kneecap Pain – Patella Pain

Kneecap painKneecap is leverage point for all the muscles in the leg. Without it, we cannot walk, stand or kick. Even slight fracture can make you unable to perform any activity on legs. It also guards anterior section of knee and all the leg muscles insert into patella. There are number of reasons for pain in kneecap or patella.

The first and foremost reason for pain in patella can be chondromalacia, which commonly causes in adolescents and young people. The most common symptom associated with this condition is grinding sensation, which is uncomfortable and painful. This condition is caused mainly due to weakness in cartilage and muscles.

Some serious injuries like accident, sudden twisting of knee and direct blow to knee can cause knee cap to forced out of the groove at the bottom of thigh bone, which will result in massive pain and huge swelling. This injury requires immediate medical attention and you MUST visit the hospital as soon as possible because knee dislocation  might be associated with some other ligament injuries as well, which will be serious and extremely painful.

Sometimes due to sudden fall from height can result in fracture in patella. If the injury is serious, then surgery may be required or else, knee brace will help the patella to settle down. 90% of dislocated kneecap returns to its groove successfully.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome or runner’s knee and Patellar Tendonitis or jumper’s knee can also be reasons for pain in knee cap. Both are caused due to running, jumping and kicking. Patellofemoral arthritis can also be a factor for knee cap pain, which will make your life difficult especially when kneeling down, squatting or climbing the stairs in your house. This condition will reduces the space between kneecap and groove resulting in painful grinding sensation.

7) Calf Pain

calf painThe calf is the region located just below the knee, which is made of 3 muscles.  Sudden stress or direct blow to the calf muscles result in the calf pain. Calf muscle strain, medial gastrocnemius strain, plantaris muscle rupture, achilles tendonitis/rupture,  Achilles ruptures, baker’s cyst, blood clots, leg cramps, etc are some of the reasons for calf pain.

Whatever knee injury diagnosis information provided above is just for the educational purpose and cannot be a real substitute to doctor’s analysis. You should immediately visit your doctor because knee pain are actually uncomfortable and limit your physical independence.

In this section, we have described an overview of knee injury diagnosis or knee pain location. In the previous section, we have covered knee pain diagnosis and in the next section, we will dwell into details of how the knee pain started?