Knee pain can often be instant or become progressively worse over time. Awkward movements, a fall or impact can all cause knee pain and lead to knee injuries. 

This article looks at what causes knee pain, and the types of injuries that can result in knee pain.

Knee pain causes

Knee pain can come on suddenly or over time, with certain ailments not related to injuries also behind some causes of knee pain. Broadly though, the main reasons why you may experience some form of knee pain would be as follows:

More common knee pain causes

Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome: A common injury for runners. The IT band is the connective tissue that stretches from your hip to your knee and can become irritated and painful (on the outside of the knee) when it becomes overstretched. Building up time/distance over time and avoiding too much downhill running can ease IT band syndrome.

Bursitis or "preacher’s knee": Occurs when a small sac at the top of your knee (Bursa) ruptures due to irritation and excessive impact. This type of injury is more common if you’re often on your knees for work (e.g. carpenters or mechanics) but can occur through excessive bending or a fall too.

Loose or broken cartilage: Often caused by overuse or as part of another knee injury. Small pieces of cartilage can break loose and then become stuck within the knee joint causing an uncomfortable sensation, rather than knee pain. 

Patellar tendonitis or “jumper’s knee”: The tendon that connects your kneecap to your shin bone can become inflamed from excessive exercising or jumping.

Less common knee pain causes

Osgood-Schlatter disease: When you’re young and your knee joint is still developing you can develop this condition from overdoing it during exercise. You’ll notice a painful bump below your knee.

A dislocated kneecap: A sudden change in direction or impact when the leg is planted can cause the knee cap to slide out of position. 

Osteoarthritis: This the main cause of knee pain after the age of 50 and is caused by the most common form of arthritis Osteoarthritis. When the protective cartilage in the knee wears down, the resulting friction can cause pain and discomfort.

An old knee injury that wasn’t properly diagnosed or treated at an earlier stage can also flair up and become painful wasn’t properly treated in the early stages, it can potentially flare up and become painful again.
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Diagnosing knee pain and knee injuries

Identifying knee pain could be as simple as knowing where the pain radiates from, but the cause of knee pain or the type of knee injury is more difficult to determine, particularly if the pain isn’t as a result of a direct impact or trauma.

For knee pain and injuries related to activity e.g. a dislocation or ligament damage, it’s important to seek medical advice as soon as possible to ensure suitable treatment can be delivered, and to reduce the risk of long term damage. Depending on the severity of the injury sustained, you might experience some of the following:

  • Bruising, swelling or a warm feeling, along with general knee pain
  • The knee joint might ‘lock’ or feel like it’s clicking or catching
  • A lack of strength and stability and feeling like the knee could give way
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Knee pain and knee injury treatment

If your knee pain is the result of a trauma, impact or obvious injury then you should seek medical attention immediately following the incident or accident.

If the knee pain comes and goes (e.g. with exercise), or isn’t too severe, then you can try some home-based treatments and products to reduce the pain and treat the injury.

A common routine for knee pain and injuries is RICER, which entails the following:

  • Rest: Rest the affected knee, avoiding putting too much weight on the left, and avoid exercise for a few days to see if the pain subsides.
  • Ice: Apply a cold pack of frozen vegetables or ice wrapped in a towel or cloth (to avoid ice burns) for 20-25 minutes at regular intervals to help reduce inflammation and discomfort.
  • Compression: Gently strap the knee with an Elastoplast Cohesive Bandage.
  • Elevation: Elevate the injured leg and rest on a soft surface to help stop any bleeding and swelling.
  • Referral: Contact a qualified physician for precise diagnosis, further testing and treatment advice.
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Preventing knee pain and injuries

Knee pain and knee injuries don’t have to be the norm, and there’s a range of steps you can take to prevent and reduce the chance of experiencing either day-to-day and in the future.

  • Wear appropriate footwear when exercising or carrying out activities
  • Avoid sudden or jarring movements that could result in twists or locking
  • Always warm-up and warm down appropriately after exercise
  • If you have weak knees or a history of injuries, wear appropriate supports during exercise
  • Learn the proper form for activities like weightlifting, to ensure no undue pressure is put on joints

Using a knee support

Elastoplast Knee Support is designed to provide support to stiff, weak or injured knees. The anatomical shape provides an optimal fit and joint protection for either knee, while the breathable, dual-stretch Power Knit material provides extra comfort.

This Elastoplast Knee Support also features a comfort panel to reduce bunching behind the knee and fits discreetly under clothing.

Image of Elastoplast Knee Support
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