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Knee Pain

Information about knee pain causes and treatment

By

Updated July 29, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Man grasping his injured knee
Stockbyte/Getty Images
Knee Osteoarthritis diagram

Knee pain has many causes including arthritis.

© Medical Multimedia Group

Knee pain is an extremely common complaint, and there are many causes. It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be directed at the cause. If you have knee pain, some common causes include:

When do you need to call your doctor about your knee pain?
If you are unsure of the cause of your symptoms, or if you do not know the specific treatment recommendations for your condition, you should seek medical attention. Treatment of knee pain must be directed at the specific cause of your problem. Some signs that you should be seen by a doctor include:

    • Inability to walk comfortably on the affected side
    • Injury that causes deformity around the joint
    • Knee pain that occurs at night or while resting
    • Knee pain that persists beyond a few days
    • Locking (inability to bend) the knee
    • Swelling of the joint or the calf area
    • Signs of an infection, including fever, redness, warmth
    • Any other unusual symptoms

 

Treatments for Knee Pain

Treatment of knee pain depends entirely on the cause of the problem. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you understand the cause of your symptoms before embarking on a treatment program. If you are unsure of your diagnosis, or the severity of your condition, you should seek medical advice before beginning any treatment plan.

Some common treatments for knee pain are listed here. Not all of these treatments are appropriate for every condition, but they may be helpful in your situation.

 

  • Rest: The first treatment for most common conditions that cause knee pain is to rest the joint, and allow the acute inflammation to subside. Often this is the only step needed to relieve knee pain. If the symptoms are severe, crutches may be helpful as well.

     

  • Ice and Heat Application: Ice packs and heat pads are among the most commonly used treatments for knee pain. So which one is the right one to use, ice or heat? And how long should the ice or heat treatments last?

     

  • Stretching: Stretching the muscles and tendons that surround the joint can help with some causes of knee pain.

     

  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is an important aspect of treatment of almost all orthopedic conditions. Physical therapists use different techniques to increase strength, regain mobility, and help return patients to their pre-injury level of activity.

     

  • Anti-Inflammatory Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, commonly referred to as NSAIDs, are some of the most commonly prescribed medications, especially for patients with knee pain caused by problems such as arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis.

     

  • Cortisone injections: Cortisone is a powerful medication that treats inflammation, and inflammation is a common problem in patients with knee pain. Discuss with your doctor the possible benefits of a cortisone injection for your condition.
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