How to manage knee pain

Updated at: Sep 04, 2015
How to manage knee pain

Knee pain occurs in young and the elderly both. Simple causes of knee pain often resolve with self care.

Editorial Team
PainWritten by: Editorial TeamPublished at: Feb 01, 2013

Knee pain can occur in young and the elderly. In young adults injury is a leading cause of knee pain and in the elderly arthritis, injury are the common causes of knee pain. Simple causes of knee pain often resolve with self care.

knee pain




There are several causes of knee pain. The common causes of knee pain are:

  • Ligament Injuries: Ligament injuries occur mostly during sport activities and can cause discomfort and instability. Pain in knee can be caused due to injury to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) Injury or medial collateral ligament (MCL) Injury
  •  Arthritis: It is the most common causes of knee pain especially in the elderly. The common arthritis that cause knee pain include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and gout.
  • Baker's cyst: This fluid-filled swelling behind the knee can occur with inflammation from other causes, like arthritis.
  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa around the knee due to repeated pressure on the knee, such as kneeling for long periods of time, overuse, or injury
  • Connective tissue disorders such as lupus
  • Dislocation of the kneecap
  • Infection in the joint
  • Other Knee injuries like tendinitis, torn cartilage (a meniscus tear) or strain or sprain




The symptoms other than pain depend on the underlying cause. The signs and symptoms of common knee diseases include the following:

Ligament injuries:
A tear of ligaments of the knee which may be caused by a fall or trauma, is likely to cause:

  • Immediate pain that worsens with movement (walking or bending of knee)
  • A popping sound
  • Inability to bear weight on the hurt knee
  • Sensation that the knee might buckle or give way

Tendon injuries (tendinitis):
Some of the signs and symptoms of tendinitis include:

  • Pain, swelling in one or both knees
  • Worsening of pain with movement such as walking, jumping, or climbing stairs
  • Inability to fully extend or straighten the knee

Meniscus injuries: Signs and symptoms of this type of injury are:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Inability to fully straighten the knee, and you may feel that the knee is locked in place

Bursitis:  Signs and symptoms of bursitis include:

  • Warmth, swelling, redness, pain, even at rest in the knee
  • Aching or stiffness of knee
  • Increase in pain when you kneel or go up and down stairs
  • Fever, pain and swelling if the bursa gets infected

Septic arthritis:
Symptoms of infection of knee joint include fever, pain, swelling, and redness around the knee.

Several types of arthritis can cause knee pain. Common signs and symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Pain, swelling
  • Aching and stiffness of the joint
  • Loss of flexibility of knee joints
  • Decrease in range of motion or loss of motion of the knees


Tests and diagnosis


Diagnosing the exact cause of your knee pain can be a challenge because of the wide range of possible causes. Your doctor will take a comprehensive medical history and do a thorough physical exam as these are more useful in knee pain diagnosis than any single test. Medical history may include questions regarding location of the pain, time and pattern of the pain, your exercise program, sports you play or used to play.


Image source: Getty

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