Why does knee pain occur, and how to eliminate it?

Pain in the knee joint is a very common occurrence in human life. It can be due to many factors. As a rule, the main reason is that, due to its anatomical structure, the knee joint is quite vulnerable to injury, it is subjected to huge daily loads, especially in overweight people. It is also possible the appearance of a symptom during intensive sports, in the course of everyday household or professional activities.

Causes of knee pain

knee joint pain

The knee joint consists of many different elements, each carrying its own functional load. Why do my knees hurt? The following factors can cause pain in the knee joint:

  • traumatization;
  • damage;
  • dystrophy of any of the elements.

Knee pain is a symptomatic manifestation of a huge number of diseases of the knee joint. What causes knee pain? To accurately determine the cause in a particular case, diagnostic measures are needed. Pain can be the result of trauma to the elements:

  • ligament apparatus;
  • tendon formations;
  • cartilage lining damage.

For various diseases of the knee, in addition to pain, specific manifestations will be characteristic, determined in laboratory studies, instrumental and others.


If the knees hurt after a long state of rest or heavy loads, this is arthritis. This pathology of the knee joint is detected in about 5-15% of patients who consult a doctor about pain in the joint area.

Fact! Arthritis is a disease that is common to all age groups of the population, but young people are more susceptible to the disease.

A characteristic sign for most of the arthritis is a sharp pain in the knee, that is, an acute onset - within 1-2 days.

Arthritis is an inflammatory process, so acute pain in the knee joint is accompanied by such signs:

  • edema;
  • swelling;
  • hyperemia;
  • severe pain that worsens at night.

With arthrosis and damage to the meniscus cartilage, pain manifests itself or intensifies with a motor load on the knee joint, that is, the pain will be relieved if there is no load on the knee, unlike arthritis. With arthritis, the pain syndrome is of a different etiology, and it will not work to get rid of it by reducing the load and immobilizing the joint. In addition, arthritis can affect several joints at once, except for the knee.


Another very common knee ailment, accompanied by severe pain. Pathology is found in 35-40% of people who come with knee pain, as a rule, this age category is over 40 years old, both the left knee and the right knee are often affected at the same time. Severe pain may not appear immediately, but the sensations gradually increase over time: for someone a week or two, for someone - for a month. Unlike arthritis, the knee only hurts when you put a load on it:

  1. At first, a person feels pain after a long walk.
  2. Over time, even walking short distances brings a lot of discomfort.
  3. Later, the patient has great difficulty going up and down stairs.
  4. It is difficult to get up from a chair, that is, unbend your knees with a load.
  5. The pain syndrome disappears if you rest, immobilize the joint.

Over time, without proper treatment, the symptoms are greatly aggravated:

  • the joint is deformed;
  • there is a crackling sound when walking or extending the knee.
  • pain intensifies.

The pathogenesis is due to the destruction of the structure, degeneration of the cartilaginous lining of the articular cavity, which leads to deformity of the joint. Primary arthrosis or age-related occurs as a result of natural wear of cartilage, secondary - is the result of injuries or a number of other reasons. Such causes can be infectious arthritis, tumor lesions of bone or cartilage tissue, as a result of which this disease can appear in people of different age categories.


They are also a common cause of joint pain.

For reference! Among patients seeking help because they have pain in the knee joint, about 25-35% have meniscal injuries of various etiologies.

This pathology is noted in people of any age, various professional activities and is equally common in men and women. The menisci are injured during active movements:

  1. At the moment of injury, a characteristic click is heard, after which it can sharply hurt in the knee.
  2. Then a crunch or crepitus in the knee.
  3. After that, a sharp pain is felt, which intensifies.
  4. A person in this state cannot move at all in the knee joint.

The pain may subside after a while, and the meniscopathy becomes chronic. But without proper treatment, edema develops, the joint swells, and movements in it can be blocked, which is accompanied by severe pain and can lead to the development of arthrosis. The risk group is:

  • people suffering from gout or arthritis of the joint;
  • diabetics;
  • people with weak ligaments or overweight.

The disease is diagnosed using computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, and is treated, depending on the severity, conservatively or surgically.


Tendinitis is an inflammatory process in the tissues of the tendons of the muscle, at the place of their attachment. This disease most often affects active children and adolescents, athletes:

  • cyclists;
  • basketball players;
  • volleyball players;
  • athletes.

The disease exists in two forms:

  1. Tenosynovitis is an inflammation of the tendon sheath.
  2. Tendobursitis is a lesion of the tendon bag.

The cause of this phenomenon can be not only an injury associated with active movement, but also such diseases:

  • gout;
  • arthritis;
  • immunodeficiency states;
  • infectious diseases;
  • excessive physical activity;
  • muscle imbalance of forces acting on the joint.

With tendonitis, the knees hurt paroxysmal, that is, the pain increases with a load on the tendon, in severe forms or in the later stages of the disease, a rupture of the inflamed tendon is possible. The disease is diagnosed in various ways, sometimes it can be detected by laboratory methods, for example, when the cause is an infection.

But if the cause is gout or inflammatory processes in the joint itself, then radiographic research methods and magnetic resonance imaging can detect the disease.

plaster cast for knee pain

At the initial stages of the development of the disease, conservative therapy helps, which involves the immobilization of the joint with gypsum, and the restriction of motor activity. Various medications are prescribed:

  • means for tissue repair;
  • anti-inflammatory drugs;
  • antibiotics.

Physiotherapy procedures are also prescribed. In advanced cases, with necrosis, surgical removal of dead tissues and plastic tendon formations is performed.

knee bursitis

This is a disease of the articular bags, characterized by an inflammatory process and the presence of exudative fluid.

For reference! The causes of bursitis are constant, excessive stress on the joint.

If we talk about pathologies of an infectious nature, then the following factors can be the cause:

  • damage to the skin in the knee area;
  • open wound injuries;
  • various septic conditions;
  • the presence of an infection in the blood;
  • overweight;
  • increased load on the joint.

Also, the pathology is secondary, as a complication of gouty disease or arthritis of the knee joint. Like any inflammatory process, bursitis will be accompanied by symptoms:

  • pain syndrome;
  • noticeable changes in the shape of the joint;
  • the presence of swelling in the knee area;
  • redness;
  • severe difficulty in movement.

The severity and visibility of these manifestations will depend on the severity and localization of the process.

healthy and swollen knee in pain

Depending on the localization of the inflamed joint capsule, there are such types of pathology:

  • prepatellar;
  • suprapatelyar;
  • infrapatellar bursitis.

This pathology, as a rule, is quite easily diagnosed and treated, with the exception of cases with elderly patients, in whom it is chronic and difficult to treat.

Baker's cyst

Another pathological phenomenon of the knee joint, which brings with it a lot of pain and trouble. The cyst is also called a popliteal hernia, it is a protrusion in the area of the popliteal fossa. Normally, between the tendons, gastrocnemius and semimembranosus muscles, on the back surface of the knee region, there is an intertendon bag. As a result of the following factors, a pathological effusion is formed in the joint cavity, which penetrates into the intertendon bag:

  • trauma;
  • dystrophic changes;
  • inflammatory processes.

As a result, the bag increases, becomes noticeable, and this is called the Baker's cyst. At the initial stages of development, it can be invisible, not cause obvious discomfort, that is, it is asymptomatic. Later, due to the increase in size, the knee hurts a lot, as the cyst begins to compress the nerves and blood vessels, and the mobility of the joint is also impaired. Flexion movements become difficult, and are also accompanied by severe pain.

Dissecting osteochondrosis

x-ray of osteochondrosis dissecans in the knee joint

This disease is also a common cause of knee pain. Normally, the articular surfaces that make up the knee joint are lined with cartilage. This pathology is caused by the fact that a small area of the cartilaginous lining becomes necrotic and exfoliates, as a result of which a free-lying body is formed in the joint cavity, which causes many problems.

It manifests itself symptomatically as follows:

  • mild pain and discomfort;
  • when moving, the pain intensifies;
  • edema may develop.

A detached fragment of cartilage tissue, once in the articular cavity, can impede movement, which patients complain about, and when moving, you can hear characteristic clicks or a crunch. After exfoliation, a defect remains on the smooth articular surface, which contributes to the traumatization of the joint and in the future will lead to osteoarthritis or other pathologies.

Doctors consider frequent joint injuries to be the cause of the development of this disease, but sometimes there are patients who have no previous injuries. Diagnosis is based on the methods of computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and X-ray examination.

Gout disease

Gout or gouty arthritis of the knee joint occurs as a result of impaired metabolism, which leads to excessive formation and deposition of uric acid salts, the so-called urates. They accumulate both in the joint cavity itself and around the cartilage and tendons, and cause inflammation.

With the disease, there is severe pain in the joint, the knee area turns red and swells. If gout becomes chronic, then urate deposits cause a clear deformity of the joint, which leads to a violation, the impossibility of performing a normal range of motion.

The disease is diagnosed with the help of x-rays and blood tests for uric acid. It is difficult to treat, but at the initial stages of development, special diets and drug treatment are used.

The causes of pain in the knee can be many different pathologies with completely different etiology and pathogenesis. So, only a specialist doctor can answer the question of why the knee hurts for sure after the diagnosis.

General principles of treatment

Everyone wonders if the knee hurts, what to do? Many people, with the appearance of mild pain, discomfort, prefer to endure, because they think that it will pass by itself, this should not be done. The knee joint hurts because it is a manifestation of various pathologies, and in the absence of timely, adequate therapy, these pathologies can lead to serious consequences.

If the knees hurt, then the treatment involves the therapy of the pathology that caused the pain. Based on the results of diagnostic studies, the doctor prescribes appropriate therapy and decides how to treat diseased joints. These may be the following methods:

  • special therapeutic and preventive exercises;
  • ointments;
  • compresses.

In case of inflammatory phenomena, anti-inflammatory substances are prescribed, and if there are problems with cartilage tissue, then various chondroprotectors or corticosteroid drugs.

For reference! It is possible to perform a puncture, both for diagnosis and for treatment, for example, in the case of Becker's cyst.

Sometimes, with advanced pathology, surgical treatment is indicated, which is also diverse. In most cases, they resort to arthroscopic operations: in order to remove the articular body or resect the area of the affected tissue. Also, if other therapy is ineffective, knee arthroplasty is used, that is, the replacement of articular elements or the entire joint with an artificial implant. Thus, the answer to the question "what to do if the knee hurts" is an immediate visit to the doctor.