You may have pain on the outside of your leg just around your knee or pain that spreads up your thigh. The pain may come from damage inside the knee itself, or from swelling of a band of fibrous tissue that runs down from the hip to the knee.
Managing outer knee pain
Immediately after an injury, you can help yourself by resting your leg, using an ice pack and taking painkillers. If you can’t put weight on your leg, you may need crutches. Avoid twisting or bending the knee as far as possible.
If your injury is mild, you may not need to see a doctor or physiotherapist, but you should if:
- you cannot put weight on the affected leg
- you have severe pain, even when not bearing weight
- your knee buckles, clicks or locks
- your knee is deformed or misshapen
- you’re still in pain after three days
Treatment of outer knee pain
The treatment that you have for your outer knee pain will depend on what condition is causing the pain.
Diagnosis of outer knee pain
Your doctor will examine your knee and take a history, asking about:
- the type of pain you have, when it started and whether it comes and goes
- how active you are
- any activity, accident or injury that could have caused it
They may suggest an X-ray or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, but this is not always necessary.
If you have cartilage or ligament damage, your doctor may suggest a procedure to look inside your knee, called an arthroscopy (often referred to as ‘keyhole surgery’). This involves making a small cut in your knee and inserting a thin tube with a camera on the end. As well as diagnosing the problem, the procedure can also be used to repair or remove damaged tissue. Most knee operations (apart from joint replacement) are now done using keyhole surgery.
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