Pain on the Outside of My Knee

pain on the outside of my knee

Hi, after running about 45 minutes during a soccer game or touch football I get pain on the outside of my knee and cannot run any more. Once I have rested it's fine and no more pain. Any ideas...

Answer by Dominique:

Hi Nadene,

Thanks for reaching out about this problem you're having with knee pain - let's see if we can get to the bottom of it.

I have structured my answer as follows:

1. It could be ITB syndrome and this is why
2. Causes of ITB syndrome
3. Initial treatment of ITB syndrome
4. Preventing ITB syndrome in the future

It Could Be ITB Syndrome and This is Why

pain on the outside of my knee
It sounds like you could have what is known as Iliotibial Band Syndrome, or ITB Syndrome for short. This is a common cause of pain on the outside of the knee, particularly in those who are active in sports that involve a lot of running, like soccer or touch football. However, remember, I'm not a doctor, and the most accurate diagnosis will always come from a healthcare professional.

Let's take a closer look at what could be happening. The Iliotibial Band (ITB) is a piece of thick, stretchy fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of your leg, from your hip to your shin. Your ITB isn't just there for show - it has a vital role in helping you bend your knee and hip.

With ITB Syndrome, what's likely happening is that your ITB is getting irritated. It can rub against your knee bone, causing friction, and when done repeatedly, this can lead to inflammation and pain. Imagine if you were to keep rubbing your hand against a rough surface - after a while, your skin would probably start to feel sore and raw, right? That's a pretty similar concept.

You're noticing the pain after about 45 minutes of running, which fits with ITB Syndrome. It often comes on after extended periods of activity, when the friction and rubbing have had enough time to really irritate your ITB.

That's how it starts. If you don't do anything about it, it can quickly become a chronic issue. So, let's focus on possible causes, treatment and prevention.

Causes of ITB Syndrome

pain on the outside of my knee
There are a few reasons why you might have developed ITB Syndrome. One could be overdoing it with your running. This problem often pops up in newbie runners who are super eager and might push themselves too hard, too soon. The same could happen if you're running a lot of hills or running very long distances. It's often the build-up / increase in activity that causes the injury.

In your case, though, as you mentioned your experience comes from playing soccer or touch football, your shoes could also be a factor. Maybe they're not providing enough support, causing your knee to move in a way that prompts that irritating friction. Simply switching to a shoe with proper fitting and support could make a big difference.

Initial treatment of ITB Syndrome

If you suspect ITB Syndrome, initial treatment usually starts with some rest and applying ice to the knee. No ice? Frozen veggies can do the trick too! After all, it's about reducing the inflammation.

You could also find some comfort in wearing an ITB strap. These wrap around your knee and help reduce the strain on your ITB.

After a few days of rest and ice, if the pain continues or even comes back when you start running again, it's best to visit a healthcare professional. Especially if you are not sure about the diagnosis. They'll be able to confirm whether it is indeed ITB syndrome and advise you on more specific treatments. General practitioners will generally prescribe more rest, whereas sports therapists and the like will give you an active way to treat the injury and prevent it in the future. That's where my preference is; just resting is not making you stronger or helping you prevent problems.

Preventing ITB Syndrome in the Future

pain on the outside of my knee
Treatment and prevention really start with strengthening the muscles around your knees. Especially strong glutes and hamstrings will help. A decent, small selection of exercises would include clam shells, glute bridges, resistance band sideways walks, different variations of lunges and resistance band leg raises.

When you are comfortable with the weight room, squats, weighted lunges and deadlifts are a solid choice to include in your workouts. When returning to running, it's also a good idea not to push yourself too hard too fast - gently progress in your distances and speeds can help keep your ITB happy and free from friction.

Nadene, I hope that all makes sense and proves useful. Please take care of your knees - they're the only ones you've got!

Best of luck, and hope this provides you with sufficient information to deal with your knee problems.

Warm regards,

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