Knee pain: symptoms and treatment

knee joint pain

The knee joint is one of the largest joints in the human body. It is subjected to a great load, as it takes on almost the entire weight of our body. The knee joint is often injured.

The presence of knee pain can be a sign of a serious pathology. Pain in the knee joint not only restricts movement and causes discomfort, it can lead to disability.

What is knee pain like?

Knee pain is a common complaint that can occur in people of all ages. Pain in the knee joint itself can be not only the result of any injury, but also a sign of the presence of a serious disease (osteoarthritis, gout).

There are two types of pain: acute and chronic. Acute knee pain most often occurs as a result of an injury, or is a sign of an acute inflammatory process.

Chronic knee pain is characterized by a gradual increase in pain. The main cause of chronic pain is the development of degenerative-dystrophic changes in the tissues of the joint or a chronic inflammatory process. For a chronic process, the most characteristic is the presence of aching pain in the knee joint.

By nature, pain in the knee joint can be arching, aching, and also accompanied by a number of other manifestations:

  • Swelling and redness in the joint area;
  • joint deformity;
  • Limitation of movements in the joint;
  • The presence of a crunch in the joint during movement.

Causes of knee pain

Knee pain can be the result of the aging process and wear and tear of the components of the knee joint. The most common cause of sharp pain in the knee is trauma and damage to the joint. The most common knee injuries are:

  • Fractures and bruises, which most often occur during falls and are accompanied by acute pain;
  • Torn ligaments or tendons;
  • meniscus tear;
  • Dislocations of both the knee joint itself and the patella.

Against the background of injuries in the knee joint and damage, diseases such as bursitis and tendonitis can develop.

Other causes of pain in the knee joint include the presence of degenerative-dystrophic changes in the tissues of the joint, as well as inflammatory processes:

  • Bursitis. Bursitis is an inflammation of the joint bag, which is accompanied not only by pain, but also by swelling.
  • Tendinitis. Tendinitis is an inflammation of one or more tendons. This inflammation can occur when the tendons of the patella are damaged. Very often they occur in people who are professionally involved in running, jumping, skiing, as well as cyclists.
  • Arthritis is inflammation of the joint. The most common is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease in which all components of the joint are affected, primarily cartilage, ligaments, capsules and muscles. Joint inflammation can also be infectious (septic arthritis) and autoimmune (rheumatoid arthritis).

The least common causes of knee pain include the presence of cysts and tumors that compress nearby tissues, thereby causing pain in the knee joint.

A number of factors can increase your risk of knee pain:

  • Overweight. Being overweight or obese puts more stress on the knee joints, which increases the risk of osteoarthritis.
  • The presence of injuries of the knee joint in the past.
  • certain sports. Some sports put a lot of stress on the knee joint, which increases the risk of chronic injury.
  • The presence of diseases such as osteomyelitis and osteoporosis, which lead to brittle bones, thereby increase the risk of fractures.

Knee pain when walking

Pain in the knee joint, which increases with movement, is most often a sign of degenerative-dystrophic diseases (osteoarthritis). Pain occurs due to contact during movement of the articular surfaces, which are to some extent devoid of cartilage tissue.

Pain in the knee during extension and flexion

Pain in the knee during extension and flexion indicates an inflammatory process in the tendon-ligamentous apparatus of the knee joint, and also occurs with inflammation of the articular bag (bursitis). Inflammation in the tendon-ligamentous apparatus of the knee joint can occur when the tendon of the patella is damaged. Most often, this pathology occurs in people involved in sports.

The second cause of pain in the knee joint during flexion and extension is degenerative-dystrophic changes in the cartilaginous tissue of the joint (osteoarthritis).

Knee pain at rest

Aching pain in the knee at rest, especially at night, is most often a sign of osteoarthritis. Other causes include sprains, damage to the meniscus, cartilage, inflammation of the tendons (tenditis), inflammation of the periarticular sac (bursitis).

Knee pain at night increases with age and is often seen in people who are overweight.

What not to do with pain syndrome

First of all, you should not self-medicate, but it is better to immediately seek help from a specialist. In no case, if there is a dislocation, do not try to straighten the joint yourself.

Avoid sudden movements, do not create a large load on the joint - this can only increase the pain.


If you have pain in the knee joint, you should consult an orthopedic doctor. First of all, the specialist asks the patient, collects complaints and conducts a thorough examination. To exclude concomitant pathologies, the doctor may prescribe a consultation with other specialists, for example, a neurologist.

Instrumental diagnostic methods include X-ray examination, magnetic resonance or computed tomography (MRI / CT) and ultrasound of the knee joints.

Laboratory research methods are general and biochemical blood tests.

Treatment of knee pain

Depending on the nature of the lesion, the specialist prescribes a specific treatment plan. Often, the treatment of knee pain is complex and includes drug and non-drug therapies.

Drug therapy includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and analgesics. These drugs reduce inflammation and pain in the joint. A group of slow-acting drugs or chondroprotectors are also prescribed in courses of 3 to 6 months, which help reduce inflammation, joint pain, and also help slow down the destruction of cartilage, for example, such drugs include combined drugs that contain substances glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.

Non-drug therapy is based on physiotherapeutic methods: UHF, massage, physiotherapy exercises, mud therapy, magnetic therapy and others. It is also recommended to wear special orthopedic insoles or shoes individually selected by the doctor.

If conservative methods are ineffective, the treatment of knee pain requires a more serious approach: the doctor may recommend various surgical methods of treatment.