Inside Knee Pain: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, & More

Medically Reviewed
Siddharth Tambar, MD
Written by Siddharth Tambar, MD on May 24, 2022Medically Reviewed by Jacob Hascalovici, MD, PhD

Most people will experience knee pain at some point in their life. Knee pain can be caused by many things, such as an injury, overuse, or arthritis. The knee is a complex joint that is made up of bone, cartilage, ligaments, and muscles. Symptoms of knee pain can include swelling, stiffness, and difficulty walking. Treatment for knee pain depends on the cause and may include rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) therapy; medication; or surgery.


Knee pain can be the result of a number of factors, from injury to overuse to arthritis. The most common type of knee pain is caused by osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease that affects more than 26 million Americans. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones in the knee wears away, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. Other causes of knee pain include:

  • Injury: A sudden impact or twist can cause ligament damage, which can lead to pain and instability.
  • Overuse: Repetitive motions such as running or kneeling can lead to inflammation and pain in the knee joint.
  • Arthritis: There are several types of arthritis that can affect the knee, including rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, both of which are autoimmune diseases.


There are some common symptoms that are associated with this type of pain. These symptoms may include swelling, pain in the knee joint, difficulty walking or climbing stairs, and stiffness in the joint. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to visit your GP for a full assessment. They will be able to confirm the diagnosis and provide you with the best treatment options in order to alleviate your pain and enable you to return to your daily activities.


Treatment for knee pain can range from non-operative treatments to operative treatments. Non-operative treatments include things like ice, rest, and physical therapy.

Treatment can be started with activity modification, leg and hip strengthening, knee bracing, over-the-counter topical creams for pain, and over-the-counter supplements such as glucosamine, omega 3, and curcumin.

The doctor may also suggest short-term ice, heat, TENS unit, massage, acupuncture, dry needling, Tylenol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and other pain prescriptions.

Injections can be helpful in pain. Try to avoid steroid injections and nerve blocks which can have long-term side effects. Instead consider Hyaluronic acid, platelet-rich plasma, and bone marrow-derived stem cell treatments.

Operative treatments include things like surgery or injections. Some people may need a combination of both operative and non-operative treatments to get relief from their knee pain.

The last option of knee replacement surgery is needed for a few people and should be considered if they have failed all of the above interventions. 


There are many things that can be done to prevent knee pain from developing in the first place. Some methods include:

  • Exercising regularly: Regular exercise helps keep the muscles around the knee strong and flexible, which can help reduce the risk of injury. Aerobic exercise such as walking or cycling is good for overall health and also helps strengthen the muscles around the knee.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Carrying too much weight puts unnecessary strain on the knees, which can lead to pain and joint damage over time.
Medically Reviewed
Siddharth Tambar, MD
Written by Siddharth Tambar, MD on May 24, 2022Medically Reviewed by Jacob Hascalovici, MD, PhD

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