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Quadriceps Muscle Vastus Medialis – Thigh and Knee Pain

(Last Updated On: September 2, 2018)

Pain on the inside of the knee going up into the thigh may indicate vastus medialis dysfunction.

Vastus Medialis Muscle Pain: Signs and Symptoms

Buckling weak knees are a classic sign of vastus medialis dysfunction. There is not a warning when a knee gives out or buckles which increases the chance of a fall. Vastus medialis pain is persistent in the knee joint, more so toward the inside of the knee, and the pain extends up into the middle of the thigh.

Where is the vastus medialis muscle?

The vastus medialis muscle attaches to the thigh bone (femur) right below the hip joint and travels down to attach to the knee (patella) and shin bone (tibia).

What movements do the vastus medialis muscles control?

The vastus medialis straightens the leg at the knee and helps to stabilize the kneecap (patella).

Activities that cause vastus medials pain and symptoms:

  • Deep knee bends
  • Excessive kneeling
  • Running
  • Step masters or running stairs
  • Weak ankles that collapse to the inside
  • Walking with weight distributed on the outside of your feet
Vastus Medialis Muscle Origin, Insertion, Action, Innervation

You use the vastus medialis to straighten the knee.

Interesting facts about the vastus medialis:

  • A trigger point in the vastus medialis can cause the knee to buckle unexpectedly. If this trigger point is not released and the muscle is stretched to try and relieve symptoms, knee pain and knee weakness will worsen.

Vastus Medialis Muscle Pain and Symptoms Can Be Similar To, Contribute To, and Be Affected By These Medical Diagnosis:

  • Patella femoral dysfunction
  • Chondromalacia patella
  • Floating Patella
  • Buckling knee (trick knee)
  • Sprain/ Strain of the thigh or knee
  • Phantom leg pain with above knee amputation
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament sprain or tear
  • Posterior Cruciate Ligament sprain or tear
  • Torn meniscus (cartilage)
  • Iliotibial tract friction syndrome
  • L2 L3 or L4 radiculopathy

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the vastus medialis muscle:

Satellite trigger points asscioated with the vastus medialis:

For detailed anatomy information:  Vastus Medialis Anatomy

Recommendations For Vastus Medialis Pain Relief

Self Treatment for Vastus Medialis Pain

Though other treatments may bring temporary pain relief, the way to to end buckling knees and persistent pain of the vastus medialis is to deactivate the trigger points that cause the muscle dysfunction. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook will instruct you exactly how to find and deactivate trigger points in the muscles throughout the body. This book is a must have for anyone who is interested in the symptoms, cause, and self treatment of muscle pain. If you are not getting satisfactory results from other types of treatment, trigger point therapy is worth a try.

Self Treatment Tools For Vastus Medialis Pain

The Tiger Tail Roller is a roller I often recommend. I like this roller because it is easy to use for someone who may not have the strength to use a normal foam roller. Though rolling the vastus medialis will not totally deactivate the trigger points, it can help with treatment of the trigger points. The roller is also great to have on hand to help relax sore tense muscles throughout the body.

To use the Tiger Tail on the vastus medialis muscles start just above the knee and roll up covering the front and inside of the thigh. Start with light strokes for a minute or two and build into more pressure and more time. Do not overdo as you can irritate the muscles!

Recommended Knee Braces To Support Symptoms of Vastus Medialis Dysfunction
The vastus medialis can cause the knee cap to feel out of place.The BioSkin Wrap Around Compression Supportive Knee Brace is recommended for those who have problems with patella tracking (knee cap feeling off center) and/or have extremely weak buckling knees. The patella support strap is adjustable to either side and the Velcro straps provide compression and hold the brace securely in place.



The Professional's Choice Knee Support provides compression and support that is easily adjusted. The brace provides support to each side of the knee which helps support the kneecap. A good choice for those who have weak knees, new and old injuries and is one of the best for stiff arthritic knees. This brace is very comfortable so much so you can sleep with it on! This is my personal go to knee brace.



The Physix Gear Knee Sleeve is recommended for those who need a little extra support for walking, jogging/running and everyday activities. The graduated compression not only provides additional support but also assists with improved circulation which aids with recovery.

Compression Leggings for Vastus Medialis Muscle Support

Men's Leggings

Compression wear is not just preventative wear for exercise. Compression wear can also aid in muscle injury support and reduce swelling during recovery time. If you are considering compression wear look for graduated compression. Graduated compression provides tight compression at the lower end of your limb and gradually decreases compressive force toward the top of the limb.

Women's Leggings

This is important for circulation and inflammation reduction. To support the vastus medialis muscle it is important that you use leggings that go down past the knee so you treat the full length of the muscle. Compression leggings for men as well compression leggings for women come in all sizes, have a choice of colors and are available in various price points. The leggings can be worn alone or under pants.

If you struggle with weak painful knees, compressive wear can help support the knees and surrounding muscles.

Does Sleeping On Your Side Cause Pain In Your Knee and Thighs?

If you have pain in your knees and upper legs sleeping on your side can be painful or even impossible. The ComfiLife Knee Pillow provide cushioning between the legs and will keep your leg in alignment with your hip and spine decreasing pain and allowing you to get the sleep you need.

Cold and Warm Gels For Pain Relief

Though they are not cures for pain analgesic creams and gels can work wonders for temorary relief of muscle pain. The two I use and recommend are Biofreeze Cold Gel and Sombra Warm Therapy Gel.

Biofreeze is best for new injuries and swelling. If you have pulled a muscle, this is your first go to gel. It works much like ice, cooling the area to reduce inflammation. It works well for pain relief too!

I recommend Sombra for post injury, old injury, and muscle pain and stiffness that does not have swelling. Sombra helps relieve pain and stiffness so that you can go about your daily life.

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