Knee Pain: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Cost
Last Updated: Mar 11, 2023
What is Knee Pain?
Knee pain is a general term that refers to discomfort, soreness, or stiffness in the knee joint. Numerous conditions, including arthritis, overuse, and injury, can result in this kind of pain. Infections or medical problems like gout may also be to blame. All ages and genders might experience minor to severe knee discomfort.
Could my knee pain be arthritis?
One of the most common reasons for knee pain is arthritis. Joint inflammation brought on by arthritis can result in discomfort, stiffness, and difficulty moving the affected joint. There are several types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. If you have pain, stiffness, or swelling in your knee, you should consult a doctor to determine if you have arthritis.
How is the knee structured?
The knee is a hinge joint that joins the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). It is supported by the kneecap (patella) and several ligaments. The knee joint is lined with cartilage, a smooth, slippery substance that allows for easy movement. Tendons and muscles that support and regulate joint mobility surround the knee as well.
Types of Knee Pain
Knee pain can be classified into different types based on its causes and symptoms, the most common types of knee pain are :
Acute knee pain
Acute knee pain is a sudden and severe pain that is usually caused by an injury or accident. Common causes of acute knee pain include sprains, strains, and fractures. The pain usually comes on suddenly and can be accompanied by swelling, redness, and difficulty moving the knee. Treatment for acute knee pain may include rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E method) of the knee, as well as physical therapy and pain management.
Chronic knee pain
Chronic knee discomfort, which is defined as pain that lasts longer than three months, is typically brought on by overuse or wear and tear. Common causes of chronic knee pain include osteoarthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis. The stiffness and difficulties moving the knee might come along with the pain, which can range in intensity from mild to severe. Treatment for chronic knee pain may include physical therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes such as weight management and exercise regimen.
It is a disorder that results in the deterioration of the cartilage in the knee, causing pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis is more common as we age and is often caused by the normal wear and tear on the knee joint over time. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pain and stiffness, particularly after prolonged sitting or standing, difficulty going up or downstairs, and crepitus (a grating or crackling sound in the knee joint). Treatment for osteoarthritis may include physical therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes such as weight management, as well as surgery in severe cases.
An autoimmune condition called rheumatoid arthritis produces inflammation in the joints, particularly the knee. The joint may become painful, stiff, and difficult to move as a result of this inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that, over time, can cause joint damage. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include warmth, redness, swelling, and joint discomfort and stiffness, especially in the morning. Fatigue, fever, and weight loss are examples of further symptoms.
Treatment for Rheumatoid arthritis often include a combination of medications and therapy, such as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS) or biologics to slow down the progression of the disease, as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and inflammation. Physical therapy, occupational therapy and exercises can help to maintain range of motion, strength and function of the affected joint. In some circumstances, surgery may be required to restore joint damage.
It's important to note that Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease and not only affects the joints but also other systems of the body, so it's important to work closely with a rheumatologist to manage the symptoms and prevent future complications.
What causes Knee Pain?
Injury, overuse, or a medical condition are just a few of the causes of knee discomfort. The most common causes of knee pain include:
- Ligament or cartilage tear
What are the symptoms of Knee Pain?
From minor to severe, knee pain symptoms can include the following:
- Discomfort while sitting or standing
- Inflexibility in the knee
- Redness or swelling around the knee
- Having trouble moving the knee
- Cracking or popping sound when you move your knee
What are the Risk Factors of Knee Pain?
There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing knee pain, including:
- Age: Age raises the likelihood of developing knee pain, particularly after the age of 50. Age-related wear and tear on the knee joint's cartilage can result in pain and inflammation. Additionally, older adults are more likely to have other conditions that can affect the knee, such as arthritis or osteoporosis.
- Gender: Compared to males, women are more prone to experience knee pain. This is thought to be due to a combination of factors, including hormonal changes, differences in muscle mass and distribution, and differences in the way the knee joint is shaped.
- Obesity: Excess weight can also play a culprit by putting extra strain on the knee joint. The knee joint has to bear the weight of the body, and with each extra pound of weight, there is additional stress on the joint. Inflammation and soreness in the knee may result from this.
- Occupation: People who have jobs that involve a lot of kneeling, climbing, or heavy lifting may be at a higher risk for knee pain. These types of activities can put a lot of stress on the knee joint, leading to pain and inflammation.
- Previous injury: Those who have had an injury to their knee in the past are more likely to develop knee pain. The knee joint is complex and made up of different ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and bones that can all be affected by an injury. Previous injury can make the knee joint more susceptible to pain and injury in the future.
- Overuse: Running or cycling are two sports that exert a lot of strain on the knee joint and can raise your chance of developing knee pain. Overuse injuries occur when the same movements are repeated over and over again, leading to pain and inflammation in the knee joint. This can also happen when someone suddenly increases the intensity or duration of their exercise regimen, without giving the knee joint time to adjust.
How can you prevent Knee Pain?
Preventing knee pain can be done by taking care of your knees through exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding activities that put excessive stress on the knee joint. Some specific steps that you can take to prevent knee pain include:
- Exercising to strengthen the muscles that support the knee joint
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Using proper form and technique during physical activity
- Wearing shoes that provide proper support
- Taking regular breaks during activities that put a lot of stress on the knee join
- Overuse the knee joint
- Engage in high-impact activities without enough training, like running
- Neglecting to relax and heal following an accident or operation
- Avoiding any knee pain or stiffness
Knee Pain - Diagnosis and Tests
It is crucial to visit a doctor if you have knee pain. In order to identify the source of the pain, a doctor may conduct imaging tests like an X-ray or an MRI in addition to performing a physical examination to diagnose knee pain. If they think there may be a medical condition underlying the knee pain, they may also request blood testing.
What are possible complications of Knee Pain?
Untreated knee pain may result in consequences like these:
- Compromised mobility
- Limited range of motion
- Chronic pain
- Difficulty with daily activities
- Inability to participate in physical activities
- Cartilage damage, which can lead to arthritis
Knee Pain Treatments
The treatment for knee pain will depend on the cause of the pain. Treatment options for knee pain include:
Physical therapy is a common treatment for knee pain, and can help to improve range of motion and reduce pain in the knee. Physical therapy can include a range of exercises and techniques, such as:
- Strengthening exercises: These exercises target the muscles that support the knee joint, such as the quadriceps and hamstrings, to improve muscle strength and support the knee.
- Range of motion exercises: These exercises are designed to improve the mobility of the knee joint by working on different planes of motion, flexion, extension, rotation to make the knee more flexible
- Stretching exercises: These exercises are meant to lengthen the muscles around the knee, reduce tightness and improve mobility
- Therapeutic modalities: Physical therapist may use modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, or dry needling to alleviate pain and improve circulation
- Manual therapy: Physical therapists can help to enhance knee range of motion and reduce pain and inflammation by using techniques including massage, mobilization, and manipulation.
Medications can be used to treat the pain and swelling brought on by knee pain. Ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen are a few over-the-counter painkillers that can be useful in lowering inflammation and pain.
In some cases, a stronger medication, such as a corticosteroid, may be prescribed by the doctor. These drugs can either be ingested or injected right into the knee joint.
Surgery may be necessary in severe cases of knee pain, such as when there is a significant injury or damage to the knee joint. The knee joint can be repaired or replaced surgically. Some of the common surgeries for knee pain are:
- Arthroscopy: A minimally invasive surgery that is used to diagnose and treat knee injuries and conditions.
- Ligament reconstruction: Surgery to repair a torn ligament in the knee, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
- Osteotomy: Surgery to realign the knee joint and redistribute weight bearing and pressure on the knee.
- Total knee replacement: Surgery to remove the damaged knee joint and replace it with an artificial joint (prosthesis)
It's important to note that surgery is usually considered as a last resort after other treatments have been attempted and found to be ineffective. Surgery is also associated with certain risks and side effects, such as infection, bleeding, nerve damage, and the need for a long recovery period. Therefore, it's crucial to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of surgery. Ice can be used to soothe discomfort and swelling in the knee.
Home Remedies for Knee Pain?
- Applying ice to the knee can help to reduce pain and swelling.
- Resting the knee and avoiding activities that put stress on the joint
- Taking over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
Which doctor to consult for Knee Pain?
If you are experiencing knee pain, it is important to see a doctor. An orthopedic surgeon or a rheumatologist would be able to properly diagnose and treat knee pain.
Which are the best medicines for Knee Pain?
The reason for the pain will determine the appropriate treatment for knee discomfort. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen, two over-the-counter painkillers, can be useful for relieving pain and inflammation. Your doctor may give harsher drugs like corticosteroids in more extreme circumstances.
How long does it take to recover from Knee Pain?
The length of time it takes to recover from knee pain can vary depending on the cause of the pain and the treatment used. In most cases, mild to moderate knee pain can be managed with home remedies, rest, and physical therapy, and recovery time can range from a few days to several weeks. However, more severe cases of knee pain, such as those caused by a ligament tear or a knee replacement surgery, may require a longer recovery time, up to several months of physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
The results of knee pain treatment can vary depending on the cause of the pain and the selected treatment. In many cases, knee pain can be managed with home remedies, rest, and physical therapy, and the results can be permanent. However, in cases of severe arthritis or injury, knee pain may return or progress despite treatment.
Who is eligible for the treatment?
Everyone who has knee pain is qualified for treatment. The precise course of action, however, will depend on the origin of the discomfort as well as the patient's general condition.
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
Individuals who are not eligible for certain treatments may include those who have a severe medical condition that would complicate surgery or those who are not willing to follow post-treatment guidelines.
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
Depending on the reason for the knee discomfort and the particular treatment employed, there may be different post-treatment instructions. In general, post-treatment guidelines may include rest, physical therapy, and exercises to strengthen the knee joint, as well as taking medications as prescribed.
What is the price of Knee Pain treatments in India?
Depending on the type of treatment being used, the cost of treating knee pain in India can vary. For mild cases of knee pain, home remedies, rest, and physical therapy may be sufficient, and the cost may be minimal. However, for individuals who require more invasive treatments, such as knee replacement surgery, the cost can be substantial. Knee replacement surgery in India ranges from approximately 40,000 to 2,00,000 Rupees.
Medication costs can also vary depending on the treatment required. For most people, knee pain or discomfort goes away in a week or two with basic medication, which can cost between 200 and 1,000 Rupees. However, those who have osteoarthritis will probably need to take medications for the whole of their lives, and the expense may be higher.
Furthermore, in such cases where a knee replacement surgery is required, the costs will be substantially higher and in the range of 20,000 to 1 Lakh Rupees.
What are side-effects of Knee Pain treatments?
Knee pain treatment may include side effects, depending on the method employed. For example, over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen can cause stomach upset or bleeding, while corticosteroids can cause weight gain, mood changes, and increased risk of infections. Risks associated with surgery include those related to infection, bleeding, and nerve injury.
Knee Pain - Outlook / Prognosis
The cause of the pain and how well the treatment works will determine the prognosis for knee pain. In most cases, knee pain can be managed with home remedies, rest, and physical therapy, and the outlook is generally positive. However, in cases of severe arthritis or injury, knee pain may return or progress despite treatment.
- Knee pain- Medline Plus, Medical Encyclopedia, NIH, U.S. National Library of Medicine [Internet]. medlineplus.gov 2019 [Cited 06 August 2019]. Available from:
- Anterior knee pain- Medline Plus, Medical Encyclopedia, NIH, U.S. National Library of Medicine [Internet]. medlineplus.gov 2019 [Cited 06 August 2019]. Available from:
- Knee Problems- American Academy of Family Physicians [Internet]. familydoctor.org 2018 [Cited 06 August 2019]. Available from:
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