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Knee pain

Definition

Knee pain is a common symptom in people of all ages. It may start suddenly, often after an injury or exercise. Knee pain also may begin as a mild discomfort, then slowly get worse.

Alternative Names

Pain - knee

Causes

Knee pain can have different causes. Being overweight puts you at greater risk for knee problems. Overusing your knee can trigger knee problems that cause pain. If you have a history of arthritis, it could also cause knee pain.

Here are some common causes of knee pain:

MEDICAL CONDITIONS

INJURIES AND OVERUSE

Home Care

Simple causes of knee pain often clear up on their own while you take steps to manage your symptoms. If knee pain is caused by an accident or injury, you should contact your health care provider.

If your knee pain has just started and is not severe, you can:

Follow these general tips to help relieve and prevent knee pain:

Further steps for you to take may depend on the cause of your knee pain.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider will perform a physical exam, and look at your knees, hips, legs, and other joints.

Your provider may do the following tests:

Your provider may inject a steroid into your knee to reduce pain and inflammation.

You may need to learn stretching and strengthening exercises. You also may need to see a podiatrist to be fitted for orthotics.

In some cases, you may need surgery.

References

Huddleston JI, Goodman S. Hip and knee pain. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, McInnes IB, O'Dell JR, eds. Kelley and Firestein's Textbook of Rheumatology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 48.

McCoy BW, Hussain WM, Griesser MJ, Parker RD. Patellofemoral pain. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 105.

Niska JA, Petrigliano FA, McAllister DR. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries (including revision). In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 98.


Review Date: 11/27/2016
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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