Knee Pain: Causes, Symptoms & Pain Relief

Knee pain affects approximately 25% of adults ¹

Knee pain is a common complaint that many people suffer from. Although the prevalence increases as we get older, knee pain can affect people of all ages. The causes of knee pain may be injuries to ligaments or cartilage, or pain may stem from medical conditions like arthritis or gout.

Types of knee pain

‘Knee pain’ is a catch-all term that encompasses lots of different diagnoses and conditions. But when being diagnosed with knee pain, lots of experts find it helpful to locate the type of injury or condition by pinpointing exactly where in the knee the pain is coming from.

Front knee pain – Also called anterior knee pain, this may include pain below the kneecap (patella), either side of it or pain behind the knee.

Front knee pain is commonly caused by a dislocation or fracture, and frequently it’s the result of a sports injury. Keen sportspeople may damage their knee in a fall, or simply find that it’s painful from overuse.

Back knee pain – This is also called posterior knee pain, and as well as pain might mean swelling at the back of the knee that extends to the calf.

The most common causes for this type of pain are more likely to be joint related – perhaps osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation, or an infection in the joints. Or an obvious knee injury like torn ligaments or torn cartilage.

Inner knee pain – Is also called medial knee pain and refers to pain on the side of the knee that is nearest to the middle or inside of the body.

Similar to front knee pain, these types of injuries are often suffered by people who play sports. Footballers, skiers or those that twist, and pivot suddenly are at risk. As are those who might overuse their knees, like cyclists or breaststroke swimmers.

Outer knee pain – Is also called lateral knee pain and is a type of pain that occurs on the outside of the leg and may run up the thigh.

Another type of pain that is commonly found amongst sportspeople, it is prevalent in distance runners and cyclists who may be guilty of overusing their knees, particularly as they get older.

Symptoms of Knee Pain​

The exact location and severity of knee pain will differ depending on the specific knee pain causes, but some, or all of the following symptoms will usually occur:

  • Swelling and stiffness around the knee
  • Knee feeling weak or unstable
  • Redness and warmth to the touch
  • Popping or crunching noises
  • The inability to fully straighten the knee

Causes of Knee Pain​

Knee pain broadly falls into two categories:

  1. Knee pain caused by an injury. Here the cause of knee pain is easy to attribute. It might be from a sprain; ligament or cartilage damage, the result of overstretching or twisting during exercise such as running. Or from tendonitis brought on by repetitive running or jumping. A kneecap might be painfully dislocated after a collision or a sudden change in direction.
  2. Knee pain with no obvious injury. The causes here are less obvious, but no less uncomfortable. Unexplained pain and swelling in the knee may be caused by a form of arthritis, and hot, shooting pain by gout. Warmth and/or bruising might be a sign of bursitis (inflammation of the fluid that cushions your joints) or bleeding in the joints.

Treating Knee Pain​

Most forms of knee pain can be treated at home and pain relief should start to occur in just a few days.

To ease pain and swelling, try to put as little weight on the knee as you can. Avoid standing for lengthy periods and keep the knee raised. After a recent injury, use an ice pack on the affected area for up to 20 minutes every two to three hours. You can also use painkillers, and of course BioWaveGO, 100% drug-free pain relief.

Consult your doctor if your knee pain is severe; the knee gives way or cannot be moved; or shows no improvement after a few weeks.

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Exercising with Knee Pain

If you suffer from knee pain, there are ways to exercise that can help. Bending and straightening the knee – a few repetitions, several times a day – will gently stretch the knee and increase flexibility. Because weak muscles are a key contributor to knee pain and injury, it’s also a good idea to strengthen the muscles around the knee for more support.

If your knee is very painful, think about low-impact activities like swimming or water aerobics, which are good for knee pain relief because they keep the knee moving without adding lots of pressure.