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What Is The Main Cause Of Knee Pain

When To See A Doctor

Major Cause of Back & Knee Pain

If you are experiencing chronic pain or pain more associated with serious injury, see your doctor promptly. Not addressing your pain properly can lead to increased pain, joint damage, and disability. Depending on the cause of your knee pain, your doctor may suggest the following treatments:

  • Medications: Your doctor may prescribe medications to help relieve pain in the back of the knee and swelling and treat underlying conditions like arthritis.
  • Physical therapy: Your doctor may prescribe stretching exercises or a physical therapy/rehabilitation program to help you restore range of motion, strength and stability to your knee.
  • Injections: In some situations, your doctor may suggest injecting medications and other substances directly into the knee joint in order to reduce inflammation, lubricate the knee and promote healing.
  • Surgery: If conservative measures do not provide relief, your doctor may recommend surgical options.

When Going To The Doctor

It is important to consult with the orthopedist or a physiotherapist when:

  • The pain lasts longer than 3 days, even after rest and application of icy compresses
  • The pain is very intense when doing daily activities such as passing foot clothes, taking the child in the lap, walking or climbing stairs
  • The knee does not fold or makes noise when moving around
  • The knee finds itself deformed
  • Surgery other symptoms like fever or tingling

In these cases, the orthopaedist can ask for an x-ray examination or a magnetic resonance to make the diagnosis of the problem and recommend the proper treatment.

What Other Symptoms May Be Associated With Knee Pain

If you have knee pain, you may get other symptoms such as:

  • swelling, redness or heat in the knee
  • bruising around the knee
  • locking or clicking
  • inability to straighten your knee

See a doctor if the pain doesnt improve in a few weeks, if you cant move your knee or put any weight on it, or if your knee locks or gives way.

Go to an emergency department if your knee is very painful, is badly swollen or has changed shape, or if you have a fever and a red and hot knee.

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What Does It Mean If My Knee Is Swollen

Swelling in the knee, also known as knee effusion or water on the knee, occurs when fluid collects around the knee joint. Swelling can occur due to many different reasons and apply to all ages of patients.

While some reasons for swelling can be treated with over-the-counter medication, persistent and constant swelling can lead to tissue damage, bone softening, and cartilage loss.

The quick answer is when swelling in the knee is accompanied by constant pain and other issues, it is advised to seek medical attention. The following information will include common reasons to explain what does it mean when my knee is swollen. Below are common treatment methods and when it is advised to contact a doctor.

Common Causes Of Knee Pain Without Injury

Knee pain: What are the causes of the knee pain

Of all the joints, our knees are arguably the ones most likely to feel pain. Lots of injuries can cause knee pain. Car accidents, falls and sports accidents are some of the most common causes of knee injuries, like fractures, torn ligaments and sprains. Even though its never fun to experience knee pain, when it follows an injury, at least you have a pretty good idea whats causing your discomfort. And that can make it a little easier to seek and receive proper treatment.

Sometimes though, knee pain occurs without a preceding injury. In those cases, it can be tempting to ignore the pain at first to see if it subsides on its own. The problem is, even though you might not have had an accident, the issue causing your pain can still be serious. And delaying care can wind up prolonging your symptoms and even making them worse.

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What Causes Knee Pain When Sitting

The most common cause of knee pain when you sit is called patellofemoral pain syndrome. This is a common condition, especially among athletes, teens, and those who engage in manual labor. No one knows the exact cause of the problem however, it may be due to being overweight, using the knees too much, an injury or a malalignment of the knee cap. The pain is worse when sitting because the kneecap is not in proper alignment when the person is sitting down.

Other less common causes of knee pain when sitting include:

  • Osgood Schlatters disease. This hurts in the front of the knee over the tibial tubercle because this is where the inferior patellar ligament inserts. The pain is more common among young males who have undergone a growth spurt. Just touching the tibial tubercle when sitting can result in pain.
  • Osteoarthritis. There is wear and tear on the joint so that the bones touch one another without cartilage in between. This results in extreme pain in the knee.
  • Knee bursitis. The fluid filled sac between the tendons, muscles and bones becomes inflamed and can enlarge. Because it is inflamed, there can be redness and tenderness of the area just beneath the patella.
  • A Bakers cyst. The pain is from inflammation of the bursa behind the knee and, when you sit, you put extra pressure on the inflamed bursa and it hurts more. The pain is better when standing up because the bursa doesnt have so much pressure on it. It can be drained if it doesnt go away on its own.

Facts You Should Know About Knee Pain

  • Knee pain is a common problem with many causes, from acute injuries to complications of medical conditions.
  • Knee pain can be localized to a specific area of the knee or be diffuse throughout the knee.
  • Knee pain is often accompanied by physical restriction.
  • A thorough physical examination will usually establish the diagnosis of knee pain.
  • The treatment of knee pain depends on the underlying cause.
  • The prognosis of knee pain, even severe knee pain, is usually good although it might require surgery or other interventions.

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What Causes Severe Knee Pain

Severe knee pain often comes on suddenly and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling, instability, hot, red skin or there may be an obvious deformity of the leg, depending on the underlying cause.

Here we will look at the most common causes of severe knee pain and what signs to watch out for that indicate there is something serious going on that requires immediate medical attention:

Rapid Knee Swelling After An Injury

Knee Pain: Intro to the Anatomy & Causes of Knee Pain

A swollen knee that develops immediately after an injury, within minutes, is usually due to haemarthrosis, where blood accumulates in the joint. Essentially what happens is that a structure inside the knee gets damaged and starts to bleed, building up pressure in the joint.

Knee swelling after an injury is normally profuse and the knee balloons up. It will feel tense and very sore and is often accompanied by bruising, although that may take longer to develop.

There are three main injuries that cause a swollen knee from a haemarthrosis:

1. Ligament Tear:Where a knee ligament ruptures . This is the most common cause and usually involves the ACL . Other symptoms include instability and pain Learn More >

2. Meniscus Tear:A tear in the outer rim of the cartilage lining the knee. Associated symptoms include locking and pain on stairs and when squatting Learn More >

3. Bone Fracture: A break in one of the knee bones such as a patellar fracture. In most cases, it will be obvious if you have broken a bone Learn More >

A swollen knee caused by a haemarthrosis like these needs urgent medical attention.

Choose from the links or visit the Knee Injuries section to find out more about these common causes of knee swelling, including symptoms and treatment options.

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How Does Plica Syndrome Occur

Any activity or injury that irritates the plica will cause plica syndrome. This syndrome develops over time in people who continuously bend or straighten their knees during activities such as cycling, running, and using stair-climbing machines. However, doing heavy and unusual exercises before the body is ready, as well as accidents, can irritate the plica and cause knee pain. If you have a structural problem that affects the joint between your kneecap and the thigh bone, you are more likely to have plica syndrome. These structural problems may be related to the alignment of the knee joint or the weakness of the muscles around your thighs.

What Causes Arthritis Of The Knee

Experts have identified some genes that might cause arthritis, including arthritis of the knee. They predict that there are more genes not yet discovered. You could have a gene linked to arthritis without knowing it and a virus or injury could trigger arthritis of the knee.

Though the cause is unknown, some risk factors increase the possibility of arthritis of the knee. Risk factors of osteoarthritis, specifically, include:

  • Age. Osteoarthritis happens to older adults more often than younger adults and children.
  • Bone anomalies. Youre at a higher risk for osteoarthritis if your bones or joints are naturally crooked.
  • Gout. Gout, also a type of inflammatory arthritis, might lead to osteoarthritis.
  • Injuries. Knee injuries can cause arthritis of the knee.
  • Stress. A lot of stress on your knees from jogging, playing sports or working an active job can lead to osteoarthritis of the knee.
  • Weight. Extra weight puts more pressure on your knees.

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B Tendonitis Of Knee Joint

  • Inflammation of tendon is known as tendonitis.
  • Tendonitis is caused by overuse of the muscles and tendon.
  • Tendonitis follows injury or trauma of the tendon and muscles.
  • Tendonitis of superior patellar tendon is known as Osgood-Schlatter Disease.
  • Osgood-Schlatter tendonitis is caused by overuse, irritation or injury of the knee cap and patellar tendon.
  • Inflammation of patellar tendon below patella is known as jumpers knee.

Causes Of Outer Knee Pain

Can you virtually improve your knee pain?

Like the inside of your knee, the outside or lateral portion of the joint is a crossroads of many different anatomical structures. This can make getting to the bottom of pain in this area equally frustrating. If you have soreness near the lateral part of your knee, the most frequently seen causes are listed below.

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Diagnosing Inside Knee Pain

In order to treat pain on the inside of knee, it is very important to get an accurate diagnosis from your physician. If you had trauma or other injury to the knee, it is important to let your doctor know. Your age and activities may also play a factor in helping determine the cause of inside knee pain, so be sure to let your doctor know about your occupation or hobbies that may be affecting your knee.

Your physician will likely have an imaging test such as an MRI or X-ray to be able to see the structures in the knee and determine if there has been damage to the cartilage or ligaments which may be causing pain inside the knee. He or she can then determine if the MCL or meniscus has been stretched or torn.

What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Arthritis Of The Knee

It might be helpful to arrive at your healthcare providers office with a list of questions you want or need to be answered. Consider:

  • Do I have arthritis in one knee or both?
  • What type of arthritis do I have?
  • Whats a possible cause of my arthritis?
  • What treatments do you recommend?
  • What medications should I take?
  • Do I need physical therapy?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Knee arthritis can affect people of all ages. Its painful, impairs movement and causes swelling of the joint. Some people are so disabled by it that they cant work anymore. Others can only work after surgery. Meanwhile, for others, the pain isnt necessarily as bad, but it still prevents them from regular activities like cleaning, gardening and running after their kids.

Arthritis of the knee can decrease your quality of life. The good news is that treatments can lessen the severity of your symptoms. The pain and swelling might not be as bad. See your healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment if you have symptoms.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/18/2021.


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Factors That Contribute To Knee Pain

Several common injuries and illnesses can lead to knee pain, but certain factors can raise your risk of developing knee pain.

  • Weight Being overweight or obese is bad for your knees and is a major risk factor for knee pain. The recent surge in knee problems is almost certainly related to excess weight and the obesity epidemic in America. Higher body weight raises the risk of a severe knee injury and contributes to longer hospital stays and more costly treatment.
  • Age Age is another risk factor for knee pain. The older you are, the more likely you are to need a knee replacement. This is because a joint that sustains your weight every day over your lifetime is going to experience a good deal of wear and tear. In addition, knee pain occurs more often after age 50 because we tend to be less active as we age and our muscle strength declines.
  • Overexertion Exercise, in general, is good for your knees and your overall health, but sometimes you can overdo it. For example, joggers often complain of knee pain, especially around the kneecap, but any form of exercise in which the knee is used may produce pain symptoms. Proper form is key, with your hips, knees, and ankles in alignment to prevent nee pain. You should also build up core strength to minimize the risk of injury, and if you feel pain during an exercise, stop.

What Is The Knee Joint


Three bones come together to form your knee joint. They include the:

  • Thighbone .
  • Shinbone .
  • Kneecap .

A smooth substance called cartilage covers the ends of each bone. Its a cushion between the bones that keeps them from rubbing together. The synovial membrane, a type of tissue that surrounds the joint, lubricates the cartilage.

Arthritis of the knee causes pain and swelling in the joint

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Symptoms Of Knee Pain

Suffering from knee pain is never fun. Before diving into some of the common causes of knee pain, lets explore the common symptoms. The severity of the pain can vary depending on the cause of the problem and the location.

Some common signs and symptoms of knee pain include swelling and stiffness, as well as redness, in the knee. Your knee may even feel warm to the touch. Other common symptoms include not being able to fully straighten the knee, weakness or instability, and popping or crunching noises.

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  • D Fragments In Knee Joint

    • Fragments are pieces of bone and cartilages spilled into the knee joints.
    • Fragments may be torn ligaments in degenerative knee joint disease.
    • Bone or cartilage fragments cause pain and frozen knee joint.
    • Fragments can be a result of severe osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fracture of knee joint.

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    Osteonecrosis Of The Knee

    Osteonecrosis is a condition in which bone tissue dies due to a lack of adequate blood supply. People typically notice severe pain on the inside of the knee with tenderness and joint swelling as well as pain when bending or straightening the knee. These symptoms may cause a person to limp when walking.

    Osteonecrosis in the knee is not common. It is most likely to occur after an injury, but it can also develop gradually in absence of a trauma. Older women who have osteoporosis are at the greatest risk for osteonecrosis.

    Good Tips For Maintain Healthy/healthier Knees:

    Knee Pain

    Tip 1) Good dieting helps reduce inflammation in joints. Reduced inflammation reduces pains and improves mobility. This means less pain for you and longer, healthier joints. Mainly try to consume things with high percentages of omega 3s such as fish oil and fish products.

    Tip 2) If you are actively participating in activities that are known to cause damage to the knees, you should either stop it or at least lower the activity levels to the point where its safer to do them, otherwise, do not be surprised if an injury or sprain happens. Less damage done to the knees improves their longevity overtime and you absolutely can do exercises that are healthy for the knees and still give you excellent workout results.

    Tip 3) For existing pain in the joints, try things such as the heating therapy thats worked for me, knee exercises to improve resilience/cartilage growth and do stretches to also improve that elasticity.

    These 3 tips alone really help you reduce and possibly eliminate most of the main causes of knee problems stated above. Most of it is about prevention and if it happens, the same types of prevention tips can help you reduce the pain and keep living life normally, without having to resort to surgery.

    Is there a cause I left out? Please let me know below and I will add that in. Also please let me know if the solutions/prevention tips I provided are helpful to you or not.

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    Causes Of Inner Knee Pain

    The inside or medial part of the knee contains a wide variety of bones, ligaments, and soft tissue structures, all contained within a relatively small area. Because of this, pain in this area of the joint can be tough to diagnose.

    Several of the most common conditions that cause medial knee symptoms are listed below.


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