Five Common Causes of Knee Pain

As anyone who’s keen to improve their health and fitness will tell you, nothing stops you in your tracks quite like knee pain. If you’re suffering right now, it’s easy to fear the worst and think your exercising days are over. But with the right rehab plan and professional support from a physio, it can be possible to bounce back from knee pain – and you might even feel stronger than before. Read on to discover the five most common causes of knee pain… and what you can do about it.

1 Meniscal tear

From high-impact activities, such as racket sports and football, to everyday dashing around, we put our knees through a lot. So, over time, a little wear and tear can be somewhat inevitable. The menisci (the crescent-shaped fibrocartilage structures in your knees) take a lot of this strain, so a meniscal tear (which is about as fun as it sounds) is one of the most common knee injuries out there. Meniscus tears are most common on the over-55s and are known as degenerative meniscus tears.

2 Ligament damage

Your knee ligaments are bands of connective tissue that hold the knee structures together. Damage can occur due to trauma (such as in a car accident) or, commonly, due to sports injuries – twisting a knee while playing rugby or football, or while skiing, can be par for the course. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is probably the most common knee ligament to get injured.

3 Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a condition that can cause stiffness, pain and swelling in joints, and the knee is the most commonly affected. The jury’s still out as to why some people develop osteoarthritis while others don’t, but there are some common risk factors, which include ageing, previous knee injury, and very heavy load (for example, in professional footballers).

4 Bursitis

Bursitis of the knee occurs when the fluid-filled sacs (the bursas) that cushion the joint become inflamed. If the pain you’re feeling is dull, and the area feels slightly warm and tender to touch, you may well be suffering from bursitis. It can occur for a variety of reasons, including an impact injury, friction through sports, or as a side-effect of arthritis or gout. One of the most common is known as a Baker’s cyst which is a bursitis at the back of the knee.

5 Tendinopathy

Your tendons are the fibrous strands of tissue that connect your muscles to your bones. While they can withstand a lot of tension, they are susceptible to inflammation – and this can be especially common in those who partake in a lot of sports, such as athletics, rowing, rugby, and football. The most common tendonitis is called patella tendinopathy that occurs under the knee cap from extensive squatting or jumping.

Self-help for knee pain

If you’re beginning to experience knee pain, the best thing you can do in the short-term is to practice PRICE:

PROTECT: protect the knee from further impact/injury, for example, with a knee support or by using crutches to get around.
REST: stay off your feet as much as possible, for optimum healing and recovery.

ICE: cold therapy has been proven to be especially beneficial for knee pain. Apply an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas) to the area for 10 minutes, every two to three hours, wrapping a towel around your knee first to avoid direct contact with the skin.
COMPRESS: a compression bandage can help to reduce swelling.
ELEVATE: raise and rest your leg as often as possible, to help ease swelling and pain.

Medication, such as paracetamol (for pain relief) and ibuprofen (to help reduce swelling), can also be helpful. Always take as directed on the packet and speak to a pharmacist if you have any concerns.

Getting professional treatment

If the knee pain you’re experiencing isn’t resolved after 72 hours using the above self-help measures, it’s important to seek professional advice, to rule out or diagnose potential causes. See your Surrey Physio physiotherapist or osteopath for advice and support. Alternatively, seek help from your First Contact Practitioner at your GP surgery. X-rays will only be required if you have suffered a significant trauma to show any possible fracture. Depending on your diagnosis, your physio will be able to put in place a personalised treatment plan, which may include an exercise and strengthening programme, and/or taping of the knee. They will also do manual therapy and/or electrotherapy such as LASER. Most importantly, don’t suffer in silence or attempt to push through the pain: with professional help and a bespoke programme of physiotherapy or osteopathy at Surrey Physio, there’s every chance you’ll be able to return to your usual, active life.

If you suffer a knee pain, either acute or chronic, seek the help of one of the amazing physiotherapists or osteopaths at Surrey Physio. Call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online using the link in the menu.