What's Causing Inside Knee Pain After Running?

by AZ Pain Doctors, on Jan 6, 2021 11:38:00 AM

Whether you're an ultramarathon runner or a 5k runner in it for the free t-shirts and snacks, running is a part of your life. And a healthy part at that!

Running supports your cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance, and your mental health. It's a great hobby for those that enjoy being outdoors or staying active with friends and family. 

But when you start to notice inside knee pain after running you start to worry that maybe something is wrong. Keep reading to learn what might be causing that pain and what you can do to make it feel better.

Inside Knee Pain After Running

What do we mean when we refer to the "inside" or "inner" knee? Good question. There are a few different parts of your knee that can be injured or irritated from exercise, particularly running.

The inside knee is the relatively small area on the inside of the leg closest to your other knee. So for your left knee, this area would be to the right of the kneecap. 

Others runners that have experienced this pain refer to it as a "twinge", "nagging pain", or "ongoing soreness" rather than a sharp or shooting pain. But everyone experiences muscle and joint pain differently. If any of these terms accurately describe how the inside of your knee feels, keep reading.


Your post-running knee pain could be caused by bursitis which is inflammation in the tissue around the knee. This means that there is some swelling happening under the skin causing knee pain. 

Bursitis can be caused by overuse or an injury. Either way, you can treat this issue by applying ice to the area. You can also try using an anti-inflammatory medication if your doctor approves.

Medial Plica Irritation

Plica are folds in the lining of the joints of your knee. If the plica become inflammed they get bigger and can get stuck between bones. This will result in pain during and after running.

This is a common injury among runners because it's caused by overuse. If you've been running more than usual, plica irritation could be the reason your inner knee hurts.

Resting and icing is usually the best form of treatment, but you can consult a doctor if you have other questions about treating it.

Torn Meniscus

The meniscus is the cartilage between the shinbone and thigh bone. Each of your knees has two menisci. You can damage or tear your meniscus during running or other physical activities.

The meniscus can also wear down over time causing soreness and pain. Meniscus injuries can vary in severity so it's best to talk to a pain specialist if you think this might be causing your pain after running. 

Runner's Knee

Runner's knee isn't the name for one specific injury. Instead, it is a broad name for a few different injuries runners commonly experience. Most of these injuries result in pain of the interior or exterior of the knee.

One of these conditions is called iliotibial (IT) band syndrome. It happens when the tendon is irritated or inflamed from overuse. Runners with IT bands syndrome often complain of pain on the inside of the knee.

Runner's knee is usually caused by overuse, so resting might be the right solution. In the meantime, you may be able to try different cross-training exercises to strengthen the muscles around your knee and prevent future injuries.

MCL Injury

The MCL (medial collateral ligament) is located along the inner knee. It provides stability to the joint. When injured, it can cause serious pain in the knee.

Usually, MCL injuries are a result of a collision, like in football or hockey. But occasionally runners can have MCL injuries from missteps where the knee is forced to bend or move in an unnatural way.  If you have severe pain in your knee when putting pressure on it and you think it may be an MCL injury, contact your doctor right away.


Like other forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition. It happens when the cartilage of the knee (or other areas of the body) breaks down. People notice osteoarthritis pain during normal activities, such as walking, running, climbing stairs, or bending over.

Osteoarthritis may prevent you from running as much as you would like but it doesn't mean you have to give up running forever.


Tendonitis is a common knee injury caused by inflammation of a tendon. This type of pain is typically worse in the morning and decreases as your body warms up. 

Tendonitis can be caused by running but it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to discontinue your running routine. Instead, you can reduce your mileage, start running on softer surfaces, or try replacing your old running shoes.

You can reduce pain from tendonitis by icing or taking an anti-inflammatory.

Curing Knee Pain

The treatment for your inside knee pain will vary based on the cause and the severity. A specialist will be able to tell you the best treatment plan for your condition.

Generally, knee pain can be reduced by resting and applying ice to the area. Your doctor may also recommend using a compression sleeve on your knee when running. You can try certain exercises to improve your lower body strength too.

Always follow medical advice when it comes to rehabilitation from a knee injury.

Running Pain-Free

As you can see there are many common causes of inside knee pain after running. And while some of them might be more severe than others, they should all be addressed before you continue your training. 

You can protect yourself from future injuries by adding stretching and strength exercises to your regular routine. Also, avoid dramatic increases in running mileage that your body isn't prepared for.

If you're experiencing knee pain, contact us today and one of our specialists can help get you back on your feet and running pain-free as soon as possible. 

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