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Knee Pain: Injury, Arthritis and Other Causes

Knee Pain: Injury, Arthritis and Other Causes

Knee pain is perhaps the most common musculoskeletal issue that brings people to their doctor’s doors. As many people in America are increasingly active, the wear and tear on this complex joint brings about some complicated problems. Knee pain has a wide range of different causes, but they can be broadly split into the following categories: Injury, arthritis, mechanical problems, and other problems. Here’s how knee pain is caused:


When you injure the knee you may damage any of the knee’s tendons, ligaments, or bursae (the sacs in the knee joint that are filled with fluid). In addition, you could damage the bones and cartilage within the joint itself.

  • ACL injury – torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), one of the four ligaments that connects the shinbone to the thighbone. This injury is particularly common in people that play soccer or basketball.
  • Torn meniscus – tear in the meniscus, the tough, bendy cartilage that provides shock absorption between the shinbone and thighbone. This injury occurs when you twist your knee while bearing weight.
  • Knee bursitis – knee injuries may result in inflammation in the bursae, the fluid-filled sacs on the outside of the knee joint.
  • Patellar tendinitis – this injury occurs when there is inflammation and irritation in the tendons that attach the muscles to the knee bone.


There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis but those that are most likely to cause pain in the knee include:

  • Osteoarthritis. This is the most common type of arthritis and it occurs after wear-and-tear when the cartilage in the knee deteriorates.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. This is an autoimmune condition that affects different joints in the body including the knee.
  • Gout
  • Septic arthritis

Mechanical Problems

  • Loose bone or bone chip, loose cartilage. Either through injury or degeneration, a small piece of bone breaks from the knee and floats in the space of the joint. It can limit the joint’s movement and cause pain.
  • Iliotibial band syndrome
  • Dislocated kneecap
  • Hip or foot pain

Other Issues

  • Chondromalacia patellae (patellofemoral pain syndrome) – pain that occurs between the patella and the thighbone, most common in athletes, young adults with a misalignment of the knee, and older adults.

As you can see, there are many possibilities for the cause of knee pain. Read the next article for possible treatment remedies.


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