Knee pain
Knee pain

Knee pain can often be treated at home - you should start to feel better in a few days. See a GP if the pain is very bad or lasts a long time.

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:

  • it doesn't improve within a few weeks
  • you can't move your knee or put any weight on it
  • your knee locks, painfully clicks or gives way - painless clicking is normal

Get advice from NHS 111 Wales (if available in your area) or 0845 46 47 if:

  • your knee is very painful
  • your knee is badly swollen or has changed shape
  • you have a very high temperature, feel hot or shivery, and have redness or heat around the knee - this can be a sign of infection

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

Common causes of knee pain

Knee pain can be a symptom of many different conditions. A doctor will suggest treatment based on the condition causing your pain. They might:

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

Use these links to get an idea of what can be done about knee pain. But don't 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


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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 06/05/2020 09:13:54