Knee pain: 11 main causes and their symptoms

Our knee is a complex joint, and therefore many common conditions and injuries can cause knee pain.

There are a number of different ligaments around and inside the knee, as well as tendons and bursae, small fluid-filled sacs that can become inflamed. There are many different structures, and many of these types of pain will overlap.

In general, if you experience warmth in the knee, lack of full range of motion in the knee, or sharp pain in the knee during weight bearing, you should see a doctor. It is important to see a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis, prevent further damage to the knee, address the root cause of the pain, and intervene with appropriate treatment.

11 common causes of knee pain

Here are some of the most common causes of knee pain, along with their typical symptoms:

1 Bursitis

If you notice that your knee pain is accompanied by sudden swelling, redness, or a feeling of warmth over the affected area, you need to see a doctor. The bursa, a fluid-filled sac located in the knee that helps lubricate the joint, could be infected. Certain factors, such as previous injuries to the joint or a wound in the knee, can increase the risk of this type of infection. Infections can also cause fever, chills, and nausea, so watch out for these symptoms. If you think you have bursitis, it’s best to limit your activity until the knee is evaluated by a doctor. Most knee bursitis does not require surgery and can be treated with remedies such as ice and anti-inflammatories.

2 Sciatica

This condition, which usually refers to pain that spreads from the lower back down the leg or legs, can be caused by pressure from a disc on a nerve in the lower back. If the pain is not localized to the knee only and affects the lower leg in general, this type of knee pain may be related to sciatica and not to the knee itself. However, sciatic pain is usually not isolated to the knee alone. If you suffer from leg pain that starts in the lower back and trickles down to the knee, it would be prudent to look into the lower back as the cause of the knee pain.

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3 Cartilage sprains and tears

Knee ligament sprains are usually caused by a blow to the knee or a sudden twist of the knee. The most common symptoms are clicking sensation, pain, swelling, unsteadiness (knee twists when walking) or difficulty walking.

Another common cause of knee pain is tearing of the cartilage, which can occur as a result of knee injury or arthritis. Trauma (or general wear and tear) to the knee can tear the menisci, which are shock-absorbing connective tissue pads located in the knee joint. Knee deformity, swelling, and pain with specific movements may indicate a tear in the cartilage.

4 Arthritis

The following types of arthritis are most likely to cause knee pain:

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in your knee deteriorates with use and age. Weight-bearing pain, activity-related swelling, and decreased range of motion may indicate the presence of osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can affect the knee joint. Pain, knee joint deformities, and swelling may indicate RA.

Gout, which occurs when uric acid crystals accumulate in the joint, has specific symptoms, including a very painful knee joint that is red and hot to the touch.

Pseudogout, which is caused by calcium-containing crystals in joint fluid, is similar to gout but tends to be less symptomatic.

Septic arthritis, which occurs when the knee joint becomes infected, can lead to swelling, pain and redness, as well as fever and a general feeling of being unwell. It is usually not caused by trauma to the knee. Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of septic arthritis, as it can quickly cause significant damage to knee cartilage.

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5 Tendonitis

Tendinitis, or inflammation of the tendons, is another common cause of knee pain. Tendinitis of the patellar (knee) tendon, known as jumper’s knee, occurs frequently in sports like basketball, where the force of ground impact after a jump can strain the tendon. Symptoms of tendonitis typically include pain with range of motion, local tenderness, and pain-related knee weakness.

Other causes and symptoms of knee pain

Other injuries, syndromes, and mechanical issues can also cause knee pain. These include in particular:

6 Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury

An ACL injury occurs when you tear your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which is one of the four ligaments that connect your tibia to your femur. It’s a common injury in people who play sports like basketball and soccer, which require sudden changes in direction. Call your doctor right away if you experience symptoms of an ACL injury, such as a popping sound or a “popping” sensation in your knee.

6 Fractures

A knee fracture can occur if the bones in the knee, including the kneecap, break in incidents such as falls or car accidents. It can also be caused by something as minor as taking a stumble if your bones are weaker due to osteoporosis. Call your doctor right away if you experience symptoms of a broken knee, which include sudden pain around the kneecap or in the knee itself, possibly accompanied by swelling, inability to bend or straighten the knee or to hold the leg straight, a deformed knee or a bone protruding from the skin of the knee.

7 Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome, sometimes called “runner’s knee”, results in pain between the patella and the femur. This condition is common in athletes and young adults, and can develop in older adults due to arthritis.

Mechanical problems

Several mechanical knee problems can also cause pain:

8 Iliotibial band syndrome (IBS)

SBI occurs when the iliotibial band, the tough band of tissue that runs from the outside of the hip to the outside of the knee, becomes so tight that it begins to rub against the outside of your femur. . This condition usually affects runners and cyclists. See your doctor if you have symptoms of IBS, including hip pain, a clicking sensation on the outside of the knee, knee pain, warmth, or redness.

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9 Dislocated patella

A dislocated kneecap, also called patella luxation, occurs when the triangular bone that covers the front of the knee shifts. Call your doctor if you experience symptoms of a patella luxation, such as popping, knee deformity, severe pain, sudden swelling, bruising or locking of the knee, inability to walk, or if your patella is visually displaced.

10 Loose Body

A “loose body” can occur when an injury or degeneration of a bone or cartilage results in the breakage of a piece of bone or cartilage that is floating in the joint space, which can affect the movement of the knee joint. This condition can cause a locking sensation in the joint, or make it difficult to move or fully extend the joint. Call your doctor if you have symptoms of a foreign body.

11 Hip or foot pain

Hip or foot pain can change the way you walk, which can put stress on the knee joint and lead to knee pain. Remember that if your knee pain is severe or does not go away after a few days or weeks, it is important to see a doctor, who will perform an examination as well as laboratory or imaging tests to identify the cause. pain and recommend the appropriate treatment, therapy or intervention.

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