Common Knee Pain Causes

The knee is a complicated structure and one that we rely on for an overwhelming range of activities, from walking to swimming to hiking and more. As a result, knee pain causes are varied and knee injuries are incredibly prevalent among a wide range of demographics.

Here, we take a brief look at some of the most common knee pain causes we encounter in our practice.

Knee Pain Causes

If you have any of the following symptoms, contact a licensed healthcare professional immediately:

  • Cannot bear weight on the knee
  • Have severe swelling of the knee
  • You are unable to fully flex or extend the knee
  • There is an obvious deformity in your knee
  • You have a fever in addition to inflammation (redness, pain, and swelling) in the knee
  • If you are unable to use your knee–it feels like it “gives out.”

For those of you not currently suffering from knee pain and the symptoms outlined above, let us continue with our list of common knee pain causes.


While there are more than 100 types of arthritis known to man, osteoarthritis is among the most common, particularly for people over the age of 55. As we age, the cartilage in our joints naturally begins to break down as a symptom of wear and tear. This can be accelerated by certain lifestyle factors or injuries. This is why athletes are so prone to the disorder. Osteoarthritis and the resulting knee pain causes millions of Americans to have to significantly change their lifestyles if not treated properly. In the case of osteoarthritis of the knee, if the knee pain causes significant disruption, some patients opt for knee replacement surgery. While it is a relatively safe surgery when undertaken by a qualified surgeon, the operation is not without its risks and hassles of recovery and rehabilitation. However, as medical treatments have become more advanced, there are more nonsurgical treatment options than ever before that can help address knee pain causes like osteoarthritis in cases where a patient is unable to, unwilling to or would rather not undergo surgery. Depending on the cause and severity of your osteoarthritis knee pain, it is not at all unreasonable to assume that your knee pain can be treated on a strictly outpatient basis with a combination of therapies.


Bursitis results from inflammation or irritation of one a bursa. A bursa is a small sac that contains synovial fluid, which is responsible for lubricating areas where muscles and tendons slide over bones. When that bursa has become irritated, either because of overuse or because of an injury, it interferes with the function of the knee and can lead to further irritation of soft tissues and cartilage because of the resulting friction. Bursitis, in addition to knee pain, causes issues for elbows in many people as well.

Many people find that their bursitis clears up with rest and ice, though it can only be accurately diagnosed by a qualified health practitioner. In some cases, a sample of the fluid may need to be examined to ensure that there is no infection contributing to the inflammation as well. While the bursa is healing, many people also find that they benefit from knee pain relief provided by professional treatments that range from prescription medications to injections. Furthermore, professional medical treatments can also speed and improve the healing process and may be necessary in some cases. In rare instances, surgery may be indicated.

Patellar tendinitis

The patellar tendon is the tendon that helps you to extend your knee. Tendinitis is a catch-all term for irritation of a tendon. So, as you have probably surmised, patellar tendinitis is the irritation of the tendon that helps you straighten out your leg.

This type of injury is most common in athletes who participate in sports the require them to jump a lot like basketball players, volleyball players, and gymnasts. Patellar tendinitis treatment can vary widely based on a number of factors including cause, severity and patient’s medical history. In most cases, knee pain relief and healing will be the first orders of business so that physical therapy can be undertaken. Doctors often prescribe anti-inflammatories or painkillers to allow for comfort during physical therapy, however, you will want to be sure a knowledgeable medical practitioner gives you the all-clear for physical activity. After taking prescriptions, the resulting relief of knee pain causes some patients to falsely think that their knee is adequately healed, when in fact, they should have rested for longer.

Are You Experiencing Pain in the Knee?

Knee pain is not something that should be taken lightly. Minor injuries often lead to major injuries which cause chronic pain. Even if the pain or discomfort you are feeling is something you can manage on your own, it’s worth getting looked at by a medical professional. Sometimes they can find injuries or damage to tendons that may not be noticeable due to pain masking inflammation in other areas.
If you are one of the millions of Americans who suffers from knee pain and you are ready to feel better for good, contact us today. Our providers have unmatched experience in pain management and can diagnose and treat the full spectrum of knee pain causes.