Knee pain – causes and treatment

Last modified: December 11, 2019

Many diseases and injuries can cause knee pain, and it is something that most of us experience in some form during our lifetime. All of the conditions are not necessarily equally serious, and a few of them heal themselves. However, some people require acute or long-term care. Therefore, it is always safest to consult a healthcare professional if you have knee pain. Without an established diagnosis, it is not possible to start treatment.

If you have knee pain when bending the knee

If you often have knee pain when bending, this may be due to the knee cap being pressed against the thighbone. The pain is felt primarily under and in front of the kneecap. For young people, this is called front knee pain, or chondromalacia patella in medical-speak. Training with a physiotherapist (so-called physical therapist) often helps this go away. For elderly people, this type of pain is often caused by osteoarthritis in the femuropatellar joint in the knee (the joint between the kneecap and thighbone). In these cases, solutions such as an arthritis education program or the Joint Academy, can help, where customized training is combined with education about the disease.

Pain in the knee during stretching or bending of the knee can also be due to a meniscus injury. This normally occurs if the knee joint has been exposed to some form of violent twisting, for example in conjunction with athletics. However, the pain can also develop as a result of overstrained injury. Meniscus injuries can typically result in a locked knee joint. The injury can be successfully treated primarily using rehabilitation therapy. If this does not produce results, after a MRI exam, the person can be examined using arthroscopy, in other words surgery to view the joint. In this way, the damaged piece of the meniscus can be fixed or removed.

If you have knee pain after running or training

It is very common to be affected by so-called Runner’s Knee. Despite the name, however, this type of pain does not necessarily only appeared during running, but can also develop with other forms of exercise, including bicycling and skiing. This is characterized by pain on the outside of the knee joint which as a general rule develops after training for a while. It is common to develop more and more pain in the knee the longer you are running, and the pain disappears upon resting. Often this diagnosis is made because the body has been exposed to more training than it is used to. The treatment is based on strengthening and stretching the muscles around the knee, but also around the ankle.

A similar injury is Jumper’s Knee, which is also caused by overexertion. This is often the result of having jumped/landed on or lifted the leg incorrectly. However, the pain develops on the front underneath the knee in the patellar ligament. This is a muscle that runs between the kneecap and the front bump on the lower leg (tibial tuberosity), the so-called patellar ligament. Often there is more pain when going down the stairs, squatting, or trying to get up after having been seated for a while. In this case, the treatment is partly about healing the tendon that has been damaged, and partly correcting the incorrect strain that led to the injury in the first place. This can involve exercising to improve mobility in the joints and muscles, strengthening the abdominal muscles or correcting an imbalance in terms of the strength between the front and back of the thighs.

Continue reading about bursitis in the knee.