Knee Pain: Causes, Symptoms and Relief

Most of us know how frustrating and uncomfortable knee pain can be. No matter how mild, knee pain affects your every step – and it can put a strain on everyday life.

Luckily, it’s usually not a sign of a serious problem, and treatment for knee pain is often readily available. Find out more about the common causes and symptoms of knee pain, and how to relieve it, below.  

Knee Pain Causes

Knee pain is extremely common and can have multiple causes – from injury, to lifestyle, to age. Always consult a doctor for an official diagnosis of your knee pain’s cause. They will be able to recommend the best treatment and recovery plan to suit you.

  • Arthritis: A chronic condition that causes joint inflammation and the gradual breakdown of knee tissue and cartilage. The most common type is osteoarthritis, which effects 80% of people aged over 55.i, ii
  • Injuries: Pain may be caused by damage to the knee bone, cartilage, ligaments or tendons. Knee injuries are most common in sports like running, soccer, or netball – and other activities that require sudden changes in direction.i, iii 
  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursae – small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the lateral (side) knee joints.i, iii
  • Excess weight or ‘weak knees’: Being overweight can put extra strain on your knees during everyday activity. Previous injuries can also make you more susceptible to pain and re-damaging your knees.i

Knee Pain Symptoms

Depending on the cause of your knee pain, your symptoms – and how severe they are – will vary. However, you will likely experience some of these common symptoms: i, iii

  • Inflammation and redness (on, around or behind the knee cap)
  • Sharp pain or swelling that worsens when you move or bend your knee
  • Weakness or stiffness
  • Instability (not able to fully straighten the knee)
  • Popping, clicking or crunching sounds

Speak to a doctor as soon as possible if any of the following occur, as they could be signs of a more serious issue: i, iii

  • Knee pain as the direct result of an injury
  • Severe or chronic (reoccurring) knee pain
  • Inability to bear any weight on your knee
  • An obvious physical abnormality in your leg or knee

Knee Pain Relief

Your doctor may recommend some of these treatment options, depending on the severity of your pain:

  • ’At home’ pain relief: Over the counter pain relief, such as Panadol and other paracetamol products, can help ease sore knees. If the pain is more severe, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medication. You can also try applying an icepack to the inflamed area to reduce pain and swelling.iii, iv For osteoarthritis-related knee pain, try the Panadol Osteo range for up to 24 hours of pain relief. 
  • Elevation and compression: To help combat inflammation, use a compression bandage to wrap the affected knee and prop it up on some pillows.iii
  • Physiotherapy: You may be referred on to a physiotherapist for knee/leg strengthening or rehabilitation exercises, depending on the cause of your knee pain.i
  • Injections or Surgery: In more serious cases, your doctor may recommend that you have corticosteroid injections, which can help reduce inflammation and discomfort for up to several months. They may also suggest that you undergo surgery to fix the underlying cause of your knee pain.v

Exercises for Knee Pain

Discover some easy at-home exercises and stretches for knee pain below.

If you have had a previous injury, are currently injured or don’t know how to undertake these stretches safely, check with your doctor or specialist. Do not stretch to the point of pain. Stretches should be gentle and slow, never bouncy.


Calf stretch

Use a chair for balance. Bend your right leg and step back with the left pushing the heel towards the floor, keeping the knee straight. Feel the stretch in the calf; hold for 20 seconds. Repeat 2 to 3 times then swap legs.


Knee extension

Sit in a chair with upright posture and back of knees against the chair. Raise right foot in front of you until your knee is as straight as possible, keeping your thigh on the chair. Hold, then slowly lower your leg. Repeat with your left leg.


Knee bends

Place both hands on the front of your right knee and raise the knee as close to your chest as possible. Hold the position for a few seconds, then lower your knee. Repeat 5 times with each knee.

Be sure to stop immediately if you feel any pain or discomfort and seek the advice of a healthcare professional.

Learn more about low impact exercises specifically designed to treat osteoarthritis with Panadol.

 

SOURCES

i. Knee pain (Symptoms & causes). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/knee-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20350849. Accessed 22/01/20.

iiEffects of Osteoarthritis on Quality of life in Elderly Population of Bhubaneswar, India: A Prospective Multicenter Screening and Therapeutic Study of 2854 Patients. Geriatric Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation, 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4647192/pdf/10.1177_2151458515604357.pdf. Accessed 24/01/20.            

iii.  Knee pain. Health Direct. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/knee-pain. Accessed 22/01/20.

iv.  Knee pain. NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/knee-pain/. Accessed 22/01/20.

v. Knee pain (Diagnosis & treatment). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/knee-pain/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350855. Accessed 223/01/20. 

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