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Knee Problems and Pain

What Are Knee Problems and Pain?

Knee pain and problems can make it difficult to enjoy some of your favorite activities, such as enjoying a daily walk, participating in your favorite sports or just spending time with friends and family. While some types of knee pain and problems respond well to rest, in more severe cases, treatment options such as physical therapy, medication, or surgery may be necessary.

Your knee is made up of bone, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Injury or damage to any part of your knee can cause knee pain and problems. Knee pain can also be caused by a medical condition, such as osteoarthritis. Some of the most common causes of knee trouble include:

  • Ligament injuries The knee has four major ligaments: anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The two most common injuries to ligaments in the knee are ACL and MCL tears.

  • Meniscus tears — The meniscus helps cushion the knee joint between the thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia). Meniscus tears are common knee injuries, particularly among athletes.

  • Dislocation The kneecap may become dislocated from trauma, such as a collision in sports, a car accident or another sudden injury. Dislocation can also occur from suddenly twisting the leg while the foot is planted.

  • Cartilage injuries Cartilage allows the knee to move freely and smoothly without pain. When cartilage becomes injured, either from overuse or sudden trauma, it can cause pain and difficulty moving the knee.

  • Osteoarthritis — Osteoarthritis is the gradual (and natural) wearing away of cartilage in your body. Cartilage is made of strong tissues that connect areas of the body, including joints. As it wears away, it can make movement difficult and painful.


Symptoms of knee pain can vary widely depending on its cause. Common signs and symptoms of pain include:

  • Sudden, intense pain at the knee

  • Popping sound at the time of injury

  • Difficulty walking

  • Inability to bend or straighten the knee

  • Swelling

  • Tenderness

  • Bruising 

  • Clicking or catching sound in the knee joint when walking

Treatments Options

If you are experiencing pain in your knee, schedule an appointment to see an experienced sports medicine or orthopedic provider. A specialist will work closely with you to understand your symptoms and help identify the source of your pain. Treatment options can vary depending on the severity of your condition and your goals for treatment. Your provider may recommend:

  • Rest Often, our bodies are able to heal on their own with a little rest and attention. Spend a few days relaxing or participating in light activities, such as walking, gentle stretching or swimming to help swelling go down and pain to subside.

  • Physical therapy Working with a physical therapist to guide you through safe exercises to help strengthen your knee.

  • Medication Over-the-counter pain relief and anti-inflammatories can help control pain and reduce swelling related to the injury.

  • Injections  This can include steroids, viscosupplementation or biologic options.

  • Surgery If a conservative treatment approach does not address your knee pain, your doctor may discuss surgery. At Temple Health, we’re proud to offer the latest advances in care, including:

    • Arthroscopy

    • Meniscus surgery, including meniscus transplant

    • ACL surgery, including revision surgery

    • Cartilage restoration, including osteochondral transplant and Carticel®

    • Osteotomy/alignment surgery

    • Multi-ligament knee reconstruction

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of knee problems and pain, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat knee problems & pain.