Overview

Knee pain
Knee pain

Knee pain can often be treated at home - you should start to feel better in a few days. Call 111 if the pain is very bad.

How to ease knee pain and swelling

Try these things at first:

  • put as little weight as possible on the knee - for example, avoid standing for a long time
  • use an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a teatowel) on your knee for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
  • take paracetamol

See a GP if:

  • knee pain does not improve within a few weeks
  • your knee locks, painfully clicks or gives way - painless clicking is normal

Get advice from 111 now if:

  • your knee is very painful
  • you cannot move your knee or put any weight on it
  • your knee is badly swollen or has changed shape
  • you have a very high temperature, feel hot and shivery, and have redness or heat around your knee - this can be a sign of infection

111 will tell you what to do.  They can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone.

Treatment from a GP

A doctor can suggest treatment based on what's causing your knee pain.

They might:

  • prescribe medicine or physiotherapy
  • refer you to hospital for a scan or specialist treatment (for example, surgery)

Common causes of knee pain

Knee pain can be a symptom of many different conditions.

This information might give you an idea of what the cause might be. But do not self-diagnose - see a GP if you're worried.

Knee pain after an injury

Knee symptoms and possible causes:

  • Pain after overstretching, overusing or twisting, often during exercise - possible cause could be sprains and strains
  • Pain between your kneecap and shin, often caused by repetitive running or jumping - possible cause could be tendonitis
  • Unstable, gives way when you try to stand, unable to straighten, may hear a popping sound during injury - possible cause could be torn ligament, tendon or meniscus, cartilage damage
  • Teenagers and young adults with pain and swelling below kneecap - possible cause could be Osgood-Schlatter's disease
  • Kneecap changes shape after a collision or sudden change in direction - possible cause could be dislocated kneecap

Knee pain with no obvious injury

Knee symptoms and possible causes:

  • Pain and stiffness in both knees, mild swelling, more common in older people - possible cause is osteoarthritis
  • Warm and red, kneeling or bending makes pain and swelling worse - possible cause is bursitis
  • Swelling, warmth, bruising, more likely while taking anticoagulants - possible cause is bleeding in the joint
  • Hot and red, sudden attacks of very bad pain - possible causes are gout or septic arthritis


The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 31/05/2022 11:57:33