why does my knee hurt

why does my knee hurt

Knee pain is a common symptom that can occur in people of all ages and that. When it is particularly intense, debilitating disorder takes on the connotations. In this article, we will give you a complete guide about why does my knee hurt. Known in the medical field with knee pain, knee pain recognizes numerous causes, including. The breaking of some ligament, meniscus or patellar tendon, bursitis, bone fractures, cysts, the dislocation of the patella, the syndrome of bandelletta ileo-tibialis, patellar tendonitis, knee arthrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, septic arthritis, etc.

Knee pain occurs very often in association with other local symptoms, such as stiffness, swelling, instability, skin redness and reduced joint mobility. Treatment for knee pain varies according to the causes; this means that, during the diagnosis phase, the doctor must understand what induced nostalgia development.

What is Knee Pain?

Knee pain is a prevalent symptom, which can affect people of any age and sex. Depending on the condition causing it, knee pain may or may not be a debilitating disorder for those with it. The expressions also know knee pain: ” bad knee ” and ” knee pain “.

Why does my knee hurt: a brief reminder of Anatomy

The knee is the important synovial joint of the human body, placed between the femur (superiorly), tibia (inferiorly) and patella (anteriorly).

Its anatomy is quite complex and includes:

  • The articular cartilage, which covers the lower surface of the femur, the inner side of the patella and the centre of the upper surface of the tibia, protecting all these bones from mutual friction;
  • The synovial membrane, which covers the joint from the inside and produces synovial fluid, a fluid with a lubricating action for all the internal structures of the knee;
  • The collateral ligaments, the cruciate ligaments and the patellar tendon, which, all together, guarantee the stability of the joint and the correct alignment between the femur and tibia;
  • The synovial bags, which are small sacs of the synovial membrane, filled with a lubricating fluid very similar to synovial fluid;
  • The internal meniscus (or medial meniscus ) and the external meniscus (or lateral meniscus ) are pads of cartilage with a cushioning and anti-friction function on the sides of the upper surface of the tibia.
  • Thanks to its strategic position and its particular anatomy, the knee plays a fundamental role in supporting the body’s weight and allowing the leg’s extension and flexion movements during a walk, a run, a jump, etc.

Why does my knee hurt: Causes

The list of possible causes of knee pain is full-bodied and includes mild clinical significance and clinically important conditions. Causative factors of knee pain include injuries, functional overload syndromes, various forms of arthritis and, exclusively in young people, growth imbalances.

Injuries that cause Knee Pain

Knee pain injuries include:

  • The partial or total tearing of some ligament of the knee. From the femur to the tibia or from the femur to the fibula, the knee ligaments are 4. They are called: anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and external collateral ligament.
  • The bone fractures. In particular, they are responsible for knee pain: the fracture of the femur’s distal end, the fracture of the proximal end of the tibia, and the fracture of the patella.
  • The injury of the medial or lateral meniscus. One of the two menisci’s injury can be the consequence of both severe acute trauma to the knees. And repeated microtraumas over time.
  • Knee pain following the menisci ruptures mainly affects those who practice sports and jobs that subject the knee joint to significant and/or continuous stress.
  • The bursitis knee. Characterized by inflammation of a synovial bursa of the knee, knee bursitis can be the consequence of acute severe trauma to the knee or of repeated microtrauma over time.
  • Among the various knee bursitis, goose leg bursitis, pre-patellar bursitis (or washerwoman’s knee) and infrapatellar bursitis stand out.
  • The tear of the patellar tendon. The tendon injury connects the lower part of the patella to the tibial tuberosity of the tibia.

Functional Overload Syndromes That Cause Knee Pain

Functional overload syndromes are conditions that result from the exasperated repetition of a movement that improperly stresses a muscle, tendon, ligament, or joint, causing irritation or inflammation.

Among the overload syndromes responsible for knee pain, they deserve mention:

  • The iliotibial band syndrome. The condition arises from the inflammation of the band of fibrous tissue located along the outer thigh. It runs from the hip (iliac crest) to the portion just below the knee (lateral condyle of the tibia).
  • Knee pain due to iliotibial band syndrome most frequently affects those who practice sports such as long-distance running (it is no coincidence that the syndrome in question is also called runner’s knee) and cycling.
  • The patellar tendinitis. Also known as a jumper’s knee, it is inflammation of the patellar tendon.
  • The knee pain associated with patellar tendonitis mainly affects—those who practice sports in which jumps and leaps are frequently expected.
  • The tendonitis of the quadriceps femoris. It is the inflammation of the tendon insertion that connects the quadriceps femoris muscle to the patella.
  • Knee pain due to quadriceps hamstring tendonitis most frequently affects people who play sports, where bending on the legs is frequent.

Forms of Arthritis that cause Knee Pain

In medicine, the term ” arthritis ” refers to the inflammation of one or more joints in the human body.

Typical forms of arthritis associated with knee pain are:

  • Osteoarthritis knee (or knee OA ) is the most common form of arthritis in absolute. Associated with aging, it is characterized by the progressive degeneration of the articular cartilages.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. It is the second most common form of arthritis after the aforementioned arthrosis. It is a chronic autoimmune disease of unknown causes, which attacks the joints with the joint capsule and synovial membrane, such as the knee, hip, hand joints, etc.
  • The pseudogout. The inflammatory condition resulting from the accumulation of calcium crystals in the joint provided with a joint capsule, such as the knee. It is called pseudogout because it causes symptoms very similar to gout.
  • Septic arthritis. It is joint inflammation caused by a generally bacterial infection. Septic arthritis can cause very profound damage to the affected joints.

Causes of Knee Pain in the Young

In the individual young, knee pain is usually due to two syndromes, called the syndrome of Osgood-Schlatter and Syndrome Sinding-Larsen-Johansson. These result from an imbalance between bone growth (faster) and growth musculo-ligament (slower).

However, knee pain in the young can also depend on juvenile arthritis forms; these forms of juvenile arthritis are uncommon. In addition to the knee, they can also attack other important joints of the human body (e.g., ankle, wrist, etc.).

Other Causes of Knee Pain

Other conditions associated with knee pain are Baker’s cyst, gout, popliteal tendonitis, mid-patellar plica syndrome, laceration of the plantar muscle tendon (injury is also known as ” tennis leg “), laceration of one of the tendon insertions of the hamstring muscles and patellofemoral syndrome (or patellofemoral syndrome ).

Risk factors: why does my knee hurt

The causes of knee pain are conditions associated with various risk factors; among the latter, the most common and recurrent are:

  • The practice of sports or jobs that undergo stresses the knees. Among the sports at risk, there are all those in which there are races with sudden changes of direction, jumps, leaps, and repetitive gestures. Such as the continuous bending of the knee; jobs at risk include all those. That forces you to bend over your knees, rest your knees on hard surfaces or drive a vehicle for many hours a day.
  • Obesity. Excessive body weight stresses the joints of the lower limbs, the knee and ankle in particular.
  • A history of knee injuries. Compared to people who have never suffered from knee pain. Those who have suffered a knee injury in the past are more likely to have a similar new injury or osteoarthritis condition.
  • The lack of elasticity and tone on the part of the thigh muscles. A sturdy quadriceps femoris ensures greater control of unnatural knee movements, thus protecting against this joint injury.

Symptoms and Complications

Characteristics of Knee Pain

The characteristics of knee pain vary according to the triggering causes. For example, knee pain due to a rupture of a ligament (acute injury) is particularly intense at the beginning but then decreases and sometimes disappears (even if the damage to the knee persists); knee pain following gonarthrosis, on the other hand, is a chronic sensation. Which alternates phases of apparent remission with phases in which it is particularly lively and debilitating.

The causes of knee pain also affect the site of the knee pain itself. For example, rupture of the medial meniscus causes pain in the inner knee; rupture of the lateral meniscus produces pain in the external knee; Baker’s cyst is responsible for pain behind the knee; etc.

Symptoms Associated with Knee Pain

Again depending on the underlying cause, knee pain may or may not be associated with other symptoms.

Symptoms that most frequently accompany knee pain include:

  • Joint stiffness.
  • Reduced mobility of the knee.
  • Swelling of the knee (swollen knee).
  • Knee instability (unstable knee).
  • Emission from the knee, with every movement, of creaks or crackles.
  • Redness and warmth in the knee.
  • Formation of osteophytes within the joint.
  • Atrophy of the thigh muscles.


If the cause is a clinically relevant condition such as knee osteoarthritis or if the treatment of the triggering cause is inappropriate, knee pain can take on the connotations of a chronic symptom, which afflicts the patient even during the performance of the most trivial daily activities (e.g., climbing stairs or entering or exiting the car).

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When to see a doctor?

Knee pain is a symptom that should concern and lead the person concerned to see a doctor when:

  • It has been going on for several days.
  • Despite the rest and the application of ice, it persists and shows no signs of improving.
  • It is the result of a knee sprain.

Who to contact in case of Knee Pain?

  • Knee pain and its causes are a matter for the orthopedic doctor. That is, the doctor specialized in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of pathologies. That can affect the musculoskeletal system.

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Why does my knee hurt: Diagnosis

When it comes to the diagnosis of knee pain, the subject of discussion clearly identifies the triggering cause, i.e. the origin of the painful sensation.

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Except for clinically less severe cases (for which it is not always necessary to consult an orthopedic doctor), research aimed at establishing the reasons for a worrying knee pain begins with an investigation of the associated symptoms and a careful physical examination. The diagnostician performs specific manual maneuvers (e.g., anterior drawer test, Apley test, etc.). The investigations, therefore, continue with a thorough anamnesis and end, in most cases, with diagnostic imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging and/or the X-ray knee.


What is the Cure for Knee Pain?

The treatment of knee pain varies according to the triggering cause (this explains why, in the diagnosis phase, it is important to clarify the triggering factor of the pain), among the possible therapies useful for the management. Why does my knee hurt in pain? There are natural remedies, drugs, physiotherapy, injections and surgery.

In general, about knee pain and its causes, the first-line therapeutic approach is conservative; in fact, orthopedic doctors consider it appropriate to reserve surgery only for cases that do not respond to the aforementioned conservative approach.

Natural remedies: why does my knee hurt

The natural remedies for knee pain essentially consist of the so-called RICE protocol, namely:

  • Functional rest combined, in some cases, with immobilization;
  • Ice application on the painful area 4-5 times a day, for 15-20 minutes per pack ;
  • Compression of the affected area;
  • Elevation of the suffering limb.

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Medicines: why does my knee hurt

Among the drugs useful for managing knee pain there are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs ) and paracetamol; these are drugs that relieve pain through their anti-inflammatory action.

It is good practice to combine an NSAID or paracetamol with the natural remedies described above.


Physiotherapy for knee pain usually includes proprioceptive exercises for the affected joint and exercises to strengthen and lengthen the affected lower limb muscles. These exercises are particularly indicated when it is necessary to improve the stability of the knee. And relieve the latter of a part of the body load (e.g. a more toned thigh muscle supports part of the body weight, which would weigh all on the knee) in the case of weaker muscles. However, sometimes physiotherapy also includes treatments such as tear therapy, ultrasound and laser.

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Injections: why does my knee hurt

Why does my knee hurt? Injections for knee pain consist of the introduction directly into the suffering joint of substances designed to improve painful symptoms?  Among the substances used in the injections are corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory drugs – and hyaluronic acid – which acts as a lubricant.

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Knee pain surgery is reserved for patients who have not responded to conservative therapy or who can benefit from it (this is the case, for example, of those who have suffered an anterior cruciate ligament rupture: this ligament is unable to self-repair, so it requires repair surgery).

Surgical treatment for knee pain includes:

  • Arthroscopic operations for the repair of ligaments and/or menisci.
  • Procedures like an orthopaedic surgery are aimed at grafting knee prostheses.
  • Transplantation of cells mesenchymal stem cells for the regeneration of articular cartilage.

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Prognosis: why does my knee hurt

Knee pain has a prognosis that depends on the curability of the cause of the pain; in fact, if the cause is successfully treatable (e.g. patellar tendinitis) and anterior cruciate laceration). Why does my knee hurt pain tend to resolve itself in times that vary according to the severity of the joint’s medical condition? If, on the other hand, the cause is not curable in a specific way (e.g., knee arthrosis), the pain in the knee cannot be resolved and becomes a chronic symptom. If you are a runner, then trying few of the best running shoes for bad knees will definitely going to help you.


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