I would like to talk to you about the saphenous nerve. Why am I talking about that today? The saphenous nerve could be the source of pain in your knee or anywhere down your leg, all the way down to your foot for various reason.
This nerve is a continuation of your femoral nerve. Your femoral nerve comes from your lower back... from your spinal cord, into your lower back and around your thigh. It gives into several branches. One of these branch is the saphenous nerve.
One thing to understand is that the saphenous nerve is a sensory nerve and it does not innervate any muscles.
If you sustained an injury to this nerve, you will not see really any particular weakness from that injury. Even without weakness, that could be the source of quite a bit of pain that could arise anywhere along the distribution of that nerve.
So generally what triggers that pain could be a direct trauma to your knee. It could be a car accident or just playing soccer, being kicked into the knee, or misstepping...or you skip a step and you fall and you tweak your knee one way or the other...That could be starting the irritation of that nerve, where it becomes inflamed and create some symptoms.
The other common reason for your saphenous nerve to create pain is often by way of a knee surgery and often a knee replacement. The branches of that nerve are very, very close to the surface. And when you have a pretty big surgery, they can easily be messed up with and sometimes suffer cuts or stress in places.
That would be problematic in order to regain all the sensation in your knee.
One of the main reason for a saphenous nerve entrapment is tight tissue that could be putting pressure on the nerve.
Generally that pressure is in the adductor canal, which is in your thigh running right through here.
It's circled by muscles. And actually your saphenous nerve is piercing through your Gracilis and your Sartorious muscles.
So anywhere along here, you can have compression that can create that deep ache on the inside of your knee, as well as any discomfort and pain down your shin and all the way to the top of your foot. So you could have pain and numbness, or so called paresthesia all the way down there.
So I'm going to show you what you can do to address these symptoms.... a somewhat easy way to stretch the saphenous nerve.
If you have a doubt that maybe you could be suffering from saphenous nerve injury... Maybe you suffer from that pain on the inside of your knee, have tried different things, maybe even including strengthening around your knee joints ....But nothing has worked, that might be worse giving that a try.
Of course, this is not a cure all and will not work for everybody. Please, check in with your physio as they will be able to diagnose if your saphenous nerve could be the source of your pain.
Please watch the video above for descriptions of the stretch and its instructions.
As usual, if you have any questions regarding your knee, feel free to reach out at pierre@butheauphysio.
Pierre-Yves Butheau, MPT, CMP has been a physiotherapist for 19 years and has a passion for helping people move better, return from and prevent injuries, as well as improve their function and quality of life. He has a strong interest in addressing the root cause of and treating neuro-musculoskeletal conditions while educating his patients with the knowledge to manage their conditions and prevent recurrence. Pierre also has a niche in treating Bell's palsy and temporomandibular joint dysfunctions.