knee Pain: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Knee pain is a common ailment that usually comprises almost a third of all out-patient cases involving muscle and joint pains. Additionally, it is also an injury that is very common among sports enthusiasts.

So what causes knee pain? If we are to look for the most common causes, we can find that is usually triggered by tearing of the ligaments, tearing of the cartilage or meniscus, and a runner’s knee for the athletes. However, there is more to what causes knee pain than these mentioned reasons.

Causes of Knee Pain

1. Osteochondritis Dissecans or Bone Chips

Bone chips in the knee are loose fragments (commonly small) of bones or ligaments that float or stick around in the knee joint. It is also sometimes referred to as a chondral fracture. If you have this certain condition, you can feel severe pain and swell around the joint.

2. Bursitis

Our joints, just like our knees, are protected by a fluid sac called the bursa. This bursa acts as a cushion in between thus lubricating the joints. What causes knee pain in this particular part is when it becomes inflamed. The inflammation of the bursa is called bursitis. This medical condition can be attributed to overuse, physical knee injury, or infection from gout or arthritis

3. Medial Plica Syndrome

The medial plica is a tissue fold that can be found in the knees. The irritation of this fold, which is often due to over-exertion, is what causes knee pain in patients.

4. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a condition that is commonly associated with old age although obesity and injuries can also be factors. What causes knee pains under this condition is mainly the wearing and tearing of the cartilage around the cap making the bones rub raw together.

5. Iliotibial Band Syndrome

The iliotibial band is a thick band of tough tissue that extends from the hipbone to the shin. When irritated or inflamed, it results in knee injuries and pain. It is most commonly detected with athletes. Although very easy to diagnose, it is considered to be difficult to manage.

6. Tendonitis

A tendon is a cord-like band that attaches the muscles to our bones. Tendonitis is simply the inflammation of these very tendons. It is often brought about by minor repetitive impact to the concerned area or the onset of a critical injury.

7. Osgood-Schlatter Disease

It is a condition characterized by knee pain, swelling, and tenderness just below the kneecap. It usually affects adolescents and is often caused by overuse of the joints and irritation of the tendon below the cap.

8. Patellar Subluxation

What causes knee pains in this particular condition is the partial dislocation of the kneecap. The cap slides out of position which triggers swelling and pain. It is most common among adolescent girls and is most commonly caused by physical incapacity rather than trauma.

9. Improperly treated Knee Injuries

There are times when an old knee injury didn’t get to heal properly. When this happens, occasional or even chronic pain in the knees can occur.

Self Treatment for Knee Conditions

If you sustain a knee injury whether low, medium, or high severity, it is best to apply ice to the injured knee immediately. Ice should be applied for 20mins on the injured area, then 20 mins off. This should be repeated for a 12 to 24 hour period.

If the severity of the injury is low, then icing, rest, and gently stretching should aid in recovering the knee. If the severity is medium to high then there is a chance that icing, rest, and gentle stretching will not aid in fixing the knee – in these cases please seek professional advice from you,r Physiotherapist, or Doctor.

As mentioned above, the cause of the knee pain that you are experiencing will determine the treatment plan for the pain. It is thus important for you to understand the symptoms of knee pain that you have before beginning any type of treatment program.

If you are unsure about the type of knee pain that you have or how severe your condition actually is, always err on the side of caution and seek out a medical opinion prior to launching a treatment program. Let’s look at some of the common treatments for knee pain causes:

Rest. The most obvious best treatment for many knee pain causes is to allow the joint to rest and heal. Resting the knee joint will allow for any inflammation to subside, and is often the only step that is required in order to relieve pain in the knee. For severe symptoms of knee pain, the use of crutches may also be beneficial.

Ice and heat application. Ice packs and heat applications are often used as the first line of defense when knee pain symptoms arise. Alternating between cold and hot packs can help reduce swelling and pain in the knee.
Stretching. Simple stretching exercises that work the tendons and muscles around the joint can help to alleviate knee pain.

Anti-inflammatory medicines. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) are commonly recommended by doctors for knee pain relief. This is especially true for knee pain that results from arthritis, tendonitis, and bursitis.

Physical therapy. Depending on the extent of your knee pain and knee pain causes, you may need to seek out rehabilitative therapy with a qualified physical therapist. Physical therapy can help to increase strength, regain mobility, and help you return to an enhanced level of daily activity.

Cortisone injections. Cortisone injections are typically injected into the joint of the knee to reduce inflammation, thus alleviating knee pain.

In sum, getting to the root of knee pain causes is the best way to find the appropriate treatment regimen for your particular knee pain.


Knee pain can definitely be problematic, and if your knee or knees hurt, performing daily activities can be challenging.

While not all causes of knee pain require a visit to the doctor, if you are unsure about why your knee or knees are hurting, or if you are not certain what treatment you should follow for your knee pain, you should consult with your doctor promptly. Most treatment plans for knee pain are tailored toward the specific cause.

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