Treating Common Knee Pain

Whether it’s running, exercising or just plain walking, it’s not uncommon for those of use to experience knee pain. With the knee being the largest joint in the body, it allows your leg to bend and straighten. As expected, there are a number of possible reasons behind the joint problems you may experience. Let’s take a look at six common causes of knee pain along with the signs, symptoms, and treatment advice to get you back on your feet.


Overtime, cartilage that covers the long bones (called hyaline cartilage) gets worn away, causing pain deep in the knee. Normal wear and tear is to be expected, but when someone experiences weight fluctuations or obesity, arthritis can happen earlier and advance to a greater degree.

The treatment of choice for any joint arthritis is heat or contrast bath, aquatic therapy, and gentle range of motion exercises (exploring the full movement potential of a joint). Avoid full extension on those range of motion exercises to keep the pain at bay.

Overuse and Tendonitis

Knee’s will start to hurt when a tendon around the knee gets irritated and inflamed from constant, repetitive use. The affected area will usually swell, or a lump will develop along the tendon. Pain in the area may also increase when you move or flex the knee.

You can reduce the inflammation and consequently relieve the pain by resting and applying ice to the knee. Eccentric exercises, like hamstring drops will help as well. Kneel on the floor with your feet underneath the couch to keep them in place (you should be facing away from the couch), and then lean your torso toward the ground slowly.


Bad form while performing any physical act can lead to both acute and chronic injuries. From walking to resistance training, proper form and technique is key to preventing stress and strain on the joints. If you normally don't experience knee pain but begin to at some point during your workout, check out your form. The knee should not face inwards or go over the toe when you're doing lunges and squats.

Stretch the muscle involved and perform non-weight-bearing active range of motion exercises. One could be sitting on a chair and raising your knee up to your chest, release, and repeat with the other knee. If pain persists, ice, rest, and pick up the phone to dial your nearest Medwest Physio.

Cartilage Pain

When people talk about torn cartilage in the knee, they're usually referring to a torn meniscus. Meniscal injuries are among the most common causes of knee pain among active people and can occur during any activity in which you forcefully (or accidently) twist or rotate the knee. Symptoms include clicking, popping, or snapping deep inside the knee. This usually happens from starting, stopping, and changing position fast, or simply from a sharp change in direction. It can also happen if you squat too low or get up from a chair in an unusual way. 

After a suspected meniscus injury, you should ice it immediately. You may need to see your doctor to determine whether you need a MRI. This MRI will not only confirm a tear but will let you know if the injury needs to be treated conservatively or not. Once given the okay to exercise, strengthen and stabilise the knee with standing leg raises, hamstring curls, and heel raises. You will want to avoid full-knee extension type moves following an injury as they can further stress the already damaged joints.

Stretched Ligament

After a ligament is stretched, attenuated, or sprained, it doesn't return to the normal shape and tightness. This makes the knee joint unstable. When you suffer a ligament injury, like that of the ACL, a huge amount of swelling can develop, causing further dysfunction.

If this occurs it’s best to rest, ice, apply compression and elevate the leg. And of course, visit your nearest GP or hospital.

Muscle Pain

Straining or tearing a muscle around the knee joint will cause pain in that area and will usually call attention to a specific spot on the muscle belly. If you pull or strain the hamstrings, groin, or quads, it will most likely cause pain around the knee.

The best treatment for acute muscle pain would be cryotherapy initially, then following with heat and gentle stretching.

Of course these tips will get you on the right track, but if you are recovering from an injury or just can’t get the pain to budge, it’s time to make some lasting changes and visit one of our outstanding Physio’s.