Experiencing knee pain? It’s so common that almost all of us have had knee pain at some point in our lives. Knee pain can result from injury, overuse or gradually develop with age. Pain can arise from tendons and ligaments around the knee, or from cartilage damage and wear within the knee joint. We explore common causes of knee pain and when you should seek medical help with Dr Kau.



1. What are common causes of knee pain?

The knee is a big complex joint that is essential for us to walk and run. Knee pain can be sharp and painful, after a twisting injury or sprain. Dull aching pain from the knee can arise from the joint itself, and often is related to cartilage wear. Pain may or may not be felt superficially when we touch certain areas around the knee. Patients often report pain from the front of the knee, and also the back of the knee, particularly when bending and performing squats.

2. Knee pain after injury

Sports injuries or a simple fall can result in knee pain. A twisting injury can damage one of the cruciate or collateral ligaments. Common injuries include

These injuries are associated with significant pain and swelling. There will be difficulty bending or straightening the knee. You may be unable to walk properly after the incident. Such cases would benefit from early medical attention to avoid aggravating the condition.

3. Knee pain after 50

Although we all wish life re-starts at 50, it is often the age when medical problems surface. Knee pain is no exception. Arthritis can set in as we get older. This can affect the big joints in our body such as the knee and hip, or even the small joints of our fingers. There are 3 main forms of arthritis:

Arthritis that destroys the knee cartilage can lead to debilitating chronic knee pain. In such cases, a Partial Knee Replacement or Total Knee Replacement may be suitable and help to alleviate pain and restore function to the knee.

4. Knee pain from overuse

Overuse injuries are common. We see more patients with such conditions as more people enjoy sports such as distance running and cycling. These injuries occur due to the repetitive nature of the activity. Proper stretching, conditioning and rest intervals are needed to allow the body to recover. Knee pain as a result of overuse or repetitive injury can include:

5. Referred pain to the knee

In some cases pain at the knee can originate from the hip or the lower back. Pain along the inner side of the knee can be referred from hip problems such as hip arthritis or hip dysplasia. Knee pain that runs down the back of the thigh and crosses the back of the knee can be related to lower back and lumbar spine issues. You may not be experiencing any hip or low back pain concurrently with the knee symptoms. See your doctor to have a proper assessment for the source of the pain.

6. How do I treat knee pain at home?

Knee pain after an activity can be managed at home with

  • Rest and elevation
  • Regular cold compress with an ice pack
  • Applying a muscle rub or cream
  • Over the counter medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • Wearing a knee brace helps to manage swelling and provides comfort

7. When should I see an Orthopaedic Surgeon for knee pain?

Minor aches and pains will usually improve by a week of rest, cold therapy and stretches. For acute pain and swelling after an injury, it is advisable to seek medical attention early. Chronic pain that does not improve with rest and therapy should also get an evaluation. A thorough history and examination will be done, and scans that are useful include knee x-rays and MRI scans.

Contact Dr Kau for an appointment. He has special interest in Hip and Knee conditions and is Fellowship Trained with many years of experience.