Why is my Medial Collateral Ligament Strain Not Getting Better? Because It Is Pes Anserinus Tendinitis

25 May 2020

When long-distance runners complain about knee pains, it is often complaints about pain in the front of their inner knee, and below the knee cap. Pain comes about especially when climbing uphill or up stairs. This pain is sometimes misdiagnosed as a medial collateral ligament (MCL) strain given the location. However, it is actually Pes Anserinus Tendinitis.

What is Pes Anserinus Tendinitis?

It is an inflammation of the tendons between your shinbone and muscles that form parts of your hamstring and thigh. Three tendons (Semitendinosus, Sartorius1 and Gracilis) join up to form the pes anserinus tendon. Pes anserinus in latin means ‘goose feet’; roughly describing the webbed look of the three tendon coming together. The pain is felt at the area where the pes anserinus tendon joins to the shin bone.

Is it often mis-diagnosed as MCL or medial-menicus strain. This is because of the close location of the pes anserinus tendon to the MCL and medial menicus.

Pes Ancerinus Tendinitis

What Strains The Tendon?

Things that strain the pes anserinus tendon are

  1. Severe pronation of the feet – this causes the tibia (one of the lower leg bones) to rotate inwards which strains the tendons
  2. Weak hamstring muscles – when combined with an intense running programme, the hamstrings may not be able to cope with the high workload. This is often an overlooked areas in a runner’s strength training regime.
  3. Tight thigh muscles (quadriceps) – weakens the opposing hamstring muscle. Muscles tightness here is further encouraged. This is especialy if you have a deskbound job that requires you to sit at the your desk all day long.
  4. Sudden change on the volume and intensity of training

Diagnosing Pes Anserinus Tendinitis

Patients typically complain about pain climbing stairs, squatting, running and in severe cases, standing from a seated position.The pain would also appear gradually and for runners, following an increase in their training volume and intensity (uphill, or running faster).

However, even if your symptoms match those listed above, it is advisable to ensure that it is not other possible condition such as Patellar-Femoral Pain (PFP), MCL strain and medial-menicus strain

Treating Pes Anserinus

During the initial inflamed painful stage, your doctor may prescribe NSAIDs to help reduce the swelling and inflammation and recommend rest for the first 24-48 hours. Ice or cyrotherapy can help speed up the recovery by reducing the inflammation.

Once less painful, your therapist may suggest the following treatment depending on your cause of the tendinitis as list above.

  1. For severe foot pronation – orthotics can help correct over pronation of your foot
  2. To strengthen the weak hamstrings – see Hamstring Exercises for Long Distance Runners
  3. Release tight thigh muscles with sports massage and a stretching programme.
  4. A training programme that appropriately increases your training volume and intensity.

Experiencing knee pain? Click here to find out more about physiotherapy for knee pain relief and how Core Concepts can help

1 Ed note. The Sartorius is the longest muscle in the human body