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3 Causes of Knee Pain, Explained

3 Causes of Knee Pain, Explained

Most types of knee pain occur due to a sudden injury or wear and tear. Here are three of the most common causes of knee pain and options for treating them.


Several types of arthritis can affect the knee. The most common is osteoarthritis, which destroys the cartilage that cushions the joint. Another type, rheumatoid arthritis, affects the synovium, a tissue in the capsule that surrounds the knee.

Treatments: “Losing weight, changing how you exercise to reduce stress on the knee and taking over-the-counter or prescription pain medications may help,” said Kayla O’Neal, PT, DPT, physical therapist at Archbold. “A physical therapist can also teach you exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding the painful joint, reducing pain.” Arthroscopic surgery, which removes damaged cartilage and bone fragments, and partial or total knee replacement may be necessary in some cases.

Meniscus Tear

A hit to the knee or a twist beyond its normal range of motion can tear the meniscus, which helps stabilize the joint.

Treatments: If a tear is minor, it may heal with rest, ice, compression and elevation, according to O’Neal. More extensive tears, however, may require arthroscopic surgery to repair damage.


The knee depends on tiny pouches of fluid called bursae to help its components move smoothly against each other. Injury or overuse can cause inflammation of these sacs.

Treatments: Icing and elevating the knee, pain medication, and modifying daily activities to keep from overtaxing the knee can all help. If symptoms persist, a physician may need to drain excess fluid from the joint.

Exercises in Support

Keeping the thigh muscles that support your knees strong and loose can reduce pain and protect the joints from injury. These exercises can help:

»» Quadriceps stretch—Hold the back of a chair. Grab your right ankle and pull your leg up behind you until your heel nearly reaches your buttocks. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the left leg.

»» Hamstring stretch—Sit on the edge of a chair. Keep one leg bent and straighten the other, heel on the floor and toes pointed up. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the straight leg. Hold for 10 seconds.

»» Wall squat—Place your back against a wall. With your feet hip-width apart, move your feet 2 feet forward. Lower yourself to a near-sitting position and hold the position for up to 10 seconds.

The physical therapists and athletic trainers at Advanced Therapy and Sports Medicine can help you overcome knee pain. Call 229.279.6925 today to schedule an appointment.