11 Common Causes of Knee Pain

Easy Home Remedies

By /Published On: December 9, 2020/Last Updated: August 19, 2021/1382 words/6.9 min read/
Knee Pain2021-08-19T20:37:58-10:00

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Knee Pain is Common

About 25% of adults, or 63 million Americans, suffer from knee pain. It can interfere with everyday life and stop people from doing the things they want to do.  If you suffer from knee pain, there are many common causes.

Knee Pain
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Pes Anserine Bursitis
Knee Replacement
Prepatellar Bursitis
Loose Bodies
Articular Cartilage Injuries
Knee dislocation
Osteochondral Flap
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Meniscus Tear
Knee antanomy
Baker’s Cyst
Ligament Injuries and Sprains
57597 200
Common Treatments for Knee Pain
When to See a Doctor
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Frequently Asked Questions
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Schedule Appointment


Knee arthritis presents with stiffness and pain. Often patients have several months to years of discomfort or pain. Many patients notice morning stiffness, discomfort when starting to move that improves with activity, and pain at the end of the day. With severe arthritis, knees can become very stiff or unstable, and make every-day functions very difficult.


Pes Anserine Bursitis

Pes Anserine Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa. The bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac between the tibia (shinbone) and tendons of the hamstring muscle. In bursitis, that sac becomes irritated, swells, and puts pressure on the knee. This pressure normally causes pain and tenderness on the inside of the knee.

Pes Anserine Bursitis

Prepatellar Bursitis

Prepatellar bursitis is inflammation of the bursa behind the kneecap, the patella. This often occurs in patients who kneel frequently, such as plumbers, gardeners, and roofers. Athletes who receive a blow to the knee are also at risk for the condition. Prepatellar bursitis is characterized by pain on the front of the knee. It may also be caused by a bacterial infection, although this is less common.

Prepatellar Bursitis

Loose Bodies

A loose body in the knee often occurs when a bony surface inside of the joint has broken off. For example, people with osteoarthritis have bone proliferation. The small spurs of bone can break off in the joint, irritating the surrounding area. Other people who have had knee trauma, such as patellar dislocation, may also have loose bodies. Symptoms include joint pain and locking of the joint.


The synovium is a layer of connective tissue inside the knee that lubricates the joint with synovial fluid. Synovitis is inflammation of that lining. It may be caused by overuse of the joint, such as in athletes, or pre-existing conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis. People with synovitis experience joint pain with no evidence of injury or swelling.

Articular Cartilage Injuries

The articular cartilage is the smooth layer covering the ends of bones. In the knee, it covers the ends of the femur and the tibia. This cartilage is very important to the painless, smooth motion of the joint. This cartilage is often damaged in conjunction with other injuries, such as injuries to the menisci or ligaments.

Osteochondral Flap

An osteochondral flap describes a distinct type of damage to the articular cartilage. When the cartilage is detached from the bone, that cartilage is generally considered irreparably damaged. However, some flaps of detached cartilage are considered viable if they have a healthy blood supply. This type of defect can be caused by an acute injury, similar to the injuries that accompany articular cartilage injuries, above. However, osteochondral flaps can also be associated with pre-existing joint disease.

Meniscus Tear

There are two menisci in the knee: the lateral meniscus and the medial meniscus. They are small, crescent-shaped pieces of cartilage that dissipate forces on the joint and help it glide smoothly. The menisci are easily torn. These tears can be acute, like in athletes, or chronic, such as in older people with tiny, degenerative tears that build on each other over time. Tears are associated with pain, stiffness, swelling, and knee instability or locking.

Meniscus Tear


A knee fracture actually refers to a fracture of any of the three following bones: the femur, the tibia, and the patella. Typically, patients fracture their knees in high-velocity accidents, such as car accidents.

Did you recently get hurt or injured while on Vacation in Hawaii?

Baker’s Cyst

A Baker’s cyst (also known as popliteal cyst)  is a collection of synovial fluid behind the knee. It is often a result of an underlying problem, such as arthritis or a joint injury. The cyst can cause pain in the back of the knee and stiffness. Some people can feel the small cyst as a mass in the back of their knee when their knee is fully extended.

Baker’s Cyst

Ligament Injuries and Sprains

The knee has two major ligaments that are important to stabilization. These ligaments are positioned on the inside and the outside of the knee joint: The Medial Collateral Ligament and the Lateral Collateral Ligament respectively. These ligaments are often injured by a direct blow, such as a kick, to that side of the knee. People also injure their ligaments by twisting in such a way that the ligaments experience too much tension and considered to have a “sprained knee”.

Two other ligaments, the Anterior Cruciate Ligament and Posterior Cruciate Ligament stabilize the front and back of the knee. The ACL is especially prone to tear during athletic events. Symptoms include swelling, pain, and instability.

Pes Anserine Bursitis

Common Treatments for Knee Pain

Home Remedies

Did you have a recent injury? You should start treatment with the RICE therapy method. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

  • Rest the joint by discontinuing activities that aggravate it or require a full range of motion, such as kneeling, squatting, kicking, etc
  • Ice the knee to decrease blood flow to the knee and decrease your swelling. A bag of frozen peas or corn makes an excellent substitute for an icepack.
  • Compression, often in the form of an ACE bandage or a brace, will help push the swelling out of the knee.
  • Elevation of your knee helps to remove fluid stored in your knee.


When to See a Doctor

What Can My Orthopedic Surgeon do for Me?

There are several reasons to see a doctor. If you have swelling in your knee, it can represent an underlying problem that may not go away on its own. Pain that does not improve with rest. If you have redness, fever, and chills, you should see your doctor urgently to rule out an infection.

You will likely need an x-ray and sometimes an MRI to further evaluate your knee. Your doctor may provide you with a brace, injections or medications to treat your pain. If necessary, an orthopedic surgeon can help you determine if you need surgery.


The knee is one of the most important joints in the body. It takes a significant amount of force and stress per day. Unfortunately, this makes it prone to injury. The above are common injuries to the knee. If you suspect you may be experiencing one of these injuries, ask Dr. Morton about your options.

Frequently Asked Questions about Knee Pain (FAQ)

I have an MRI, do I really need an x-ray of my knee?2021-02-28T08:28:35-10:00

MRIs are good at showing soft tissues. Injury to cartilage, ligaments, and meniscus can be seen on an MRI. X-rays are better at showing bone anatomy, alignment, and arthritis.

How long does it take to recover from a knee injury?2021-02-28T08:28:09-10:00

A simple injury such as a sprain or strain can heal over the course of one or two weeks. More serious injuries can take several weeks to months to get better. These more serious injuries often require intervention by an orthopedic surgeon to help you recover.

Why does my knee hurt?2021-02-28T08:27:46-10:00

Causes of knee pain can include arthritis, a broken bone, meniscus injury, inflammation of the bursa, tendon injury, or muscular weakness. Many of these ailments can be treated without surgery.

How do I know if my knee pain is serious?2021-02-28T08:27:11-10:00

You should call your orthopedic surgeon if you have significant swelling, cannot bear weight on your knee, unable to extend or flex your knee, severe deformity of your leg, developing fevers, and redness to your knee. These are signs that something more serious may be going on.

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