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Types of musculoskeletal symptoms of knee pain, their causes and treatment

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Knee pain can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Your knees are vital for a whole range of activities, from something as simple as sitting down to walking, bending and climbing stairs. Pain in the knee restricts your mobility and can curtail many different aspects of your life.


Depending on the nature and severity of your knee injury or condition, you may be offered surgical or non-surgical treatments to provide relief from pain. For the majority non-operative care, injections or an arthroscopy is enough. In the most severe cases, such as osteoarthritis, a partial or total knee replacement could enable you to live a full and active life again.


Symptoms of Knee Pain

Knee problems produce a range of debilitating symptoms including:knee pain symptoms causes and treatment blog wimbledon clinics 1200x

  • Weakness or inability to bear your weigh
  • Pain which may worsen with movemen
  • Problems bending your knee
  • Stiffness or a crunching feeling in the joint
  • Swelling and/or bruising
  • Click or locking of the knee


Causes of Knee Pain

There are many different conditions and injuries that cause of knee pain, which can vary in severity and impact. They include:

  • Meniscus tear – a common injury that can be associated with arthritis in people over 40. It leads to water on the knee and can cause your knee to lock. 
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury – damage resulting from a twisted knee, which normally occurs during sports or as a result of a fall.
  • Osteoarthritis – inflammation of the knee joint caused by cartilage degenerating. It is most common in people over 45 but can occur at any age.
  • Medial Collateral Ligament injury – injury that occurs when your knee twists while your leg is bearing your weight, or as the result of a fall.
  • Lateral Collateral Ligament injury – a less common injury that occurs when your leg bends suddenly outwards, placing stress on the knee.
  • Patellar Tendinopathy (Jumper’s Knee) – pain in the kneecap tendon caused by repeated strain, often through sport.
  • Dislocated Knee/Patellar – sudden and often severe pain, leading to your knee giving way or becoming swollen and misshaped. Maybe caused by the kneecap coming out of place.
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome – a common injury in middle or long-distance runners that causes pain on the outer side of the knee.
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans – a rare disease that mostly affects men aged from 15 to 30. It is caused by cracks in the knee cartilage and bone underneath, resulting in loose fragments of bone in the knee.

Diagnosis of Knee Pain

Your doctor will ask you to describe how the injury occurred and examine your knee for signs of swelling. You may be asked to walk, sit or lie down, as well as bending and flexing your knee. Depending on the nature of the injury, you may be offered a range of diagnostic treatments, including:

  • MRI – this uses a magnetic field to create a 3D image of the inside of your knee. It is helpful for diagnosing soft tissue injuries (ligaments, muscles, cartilage and tendons)
  • Ultrasound – this uses sound waves to produce real-time images of soft tissues in and around the knee. You may need to move your knee into different positions during the scan.
  • CT scan – this combines X-rays taken from many different angles to build up a cross-sectional image of the inside of your knee. It can diagnose bone problems and hairline fractures.
  • X-ray – these are used to identify bone fractures and degenerative joint disease.

Knee Replacement Surgery and other treatment options

Among the treatments offered for knee pain are:

  1. Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding high impact exercise, losing weight and switching to low-impact activities like swimming
  2. Physical therapy to improve flexibility, strength and range of motion using a range of prescribed exercises
  3. Braces and assistive devices such as shoe inserts, knee braces and knee sleeves, as well as crutches and walking sticks.
  4. Medication including corticosteroid injections which are injected into the affected joint to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Arthroscopy – minimally invasive keyhole surgery (for example, to mend ruptured ligaments).
  • Partial or full knee replacement surgery – the knee is made up of three compartments: medial, lateral and patellofemoral.

    If only one part of your knee is affected, you may be offered a partial knee replacement, which treats that part of your knee only.

    A total knee replacement involves replacing all three compartments of the knee. A partial knee replacement results in less bone and soft tissue dissection and less blood loss, leading to fewer complications and faster recovery times.



Your orthopaedic surgeon will discuss the most appropriate treatment for you depending on your condition, symptoms, age and lifestyle. Your treatment is matched to help you achieve what you want.


But, whatever your symptoms, there is no need to suffer in silence as there are many different treatments that can provide pain relief and restore quality of life. Talk to us about your treatment options. Call us on 020 8944 0665 or fill in our contact form and we’ll get back you.