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> Updates > To understand what causes knee pain, it may help to know what makes up the knee joint.The knee is the joint where the thighbone, shinbone, and kneecap (patella) connect. It also involves cartilage, ligaments, menisci, and tendons.Cartilage is a slippery substance on the ends of the bones in the knee. It lets the bones rub or pass smoothly over one another as the leg bends and straightens. The menisci act as cushions between the femur and tibia that also act as shock absorbers. Ligaments hold the bones together and give the knee its stability. Damage to the ligaments can result from overuse, as in sports, or from a traumatic injury. Tendons are the connective tissues that attach the muscles in the leg to the bones they control. When all these pieces work together, the knee functions as it should, and the person can move around freely.Causes of Knee Pain: (1) TraumaFalling from a height, receiving a direct blow to the knee, making a sudden change in direction, or making repetitive movements during sports training are all causes of traumatic knee injuries.These can lead to:dislocation of the kneecapa fracture of the kneecap, femur, or tibiatorn ligamentmeniscus tearInjuries can happen if a person:does not warm up before or after exercise or works too hard in an activityparticipates in some sports, especially without using protective equipmenthas a road traffic accident or a fallAccidents, falls, and physical activities are common causes of traumatic knee injury. They can put the knee under extreme strain. If the knee does not heal properly, chronic pain can result. Common problems include bone fractures, dislocated kneecaps, and torn ligaments.(2) Medical conditions that lead to knee pain include the following:degenerative tissue disorders, such as osteoarthritisinfectionsobesityauto-inflammatory disease, such as rheumatoid arthritistendinitis, an inflammation of a tendon, leading to pain when walking upstairsbursitis, an inflammation resulting from overusechondromalacia patella, or damage to the cartilage below the kneecapgout, a type of arthritisa Baker’s cyst, when fluid builds up behind the kneea tumor, either benign or malignant in the kneeDegenerative tissue disordersOsteoarthritis (OA) is a common chronic condition of the joints. It is a degenerative disease, caused by the “wear and tear” of the joints over time.Common symptoms are pain and stiffness after long periods of rest. The knees may also become swollen after extended activity.Osteoporosis is another common disorder. The bone becomes thinner, resulting in damage in the cartilage and connecting tissues in the knee. This can make a fracture more likely.(3) Bacterial infectionBacterial infections — such as cellulitis — can cause sudden knee pain. Cellulitis occurs when bacteria that are normally on the surface of the skin make their way underneath the skin’s protective surface.Without treatment, cellulitis around the knee can cause infection in the joint, resulting in redness, swelling, pain, and stiffness.In time, chronic knee pain can develop.(4) Auto-inflammatory causesRheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common connective tissue disorder that causes knee pain.It is an auto-inflammatory disease, in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. In the case of knee pain, RA attacks the tissues of the knee. Symptoms include pain, joint inflammation, fatigue, a fever, and appetite loss.Risk factorsSome lifestyle factors can increase the risk of knee pain.Trauma: Starting physical activity without stretching properly first can increase the risk if a traumatic knee injury. People who play intense sports, such as basketball and football, have a higher risk of traumatic injury.Gout: Disorders like gout may be caused by lifestyle choices or genetics. Excessive alcohol use, obesity, and dietary factors may contribute.Degenerative disorders: These often happen with ageing, although there are other factors. The risk of osteoporosis increases with age, specific genes, lack of exercise, and dietary factors.Obesity: This increases the risk of OA, especially in the large joints such as the knees. Excess weight can put strain on the knees, resulting in pain and inflammation.Bacterial infections: Cellulitis can occur in a person who has a weakened immune system, skin conditions, long-term swelling in the arms and legs, and obesity, or if they use drugs that require needles.Connective tissue disorders: Risk factors for RA include a family history of RA, being over 40, smoking, and obesity. Women are also more likely to develop RA than men.Other possible factors for knee pain include age, overuse of the joints, and genetic factors. Exercising and following a healthful diet throughout life can help reduce the risk of many of these problems.TreatmentDepending on the cause of the problem, the doctor may recommend:pain relief medication or other drugsan exercise plan, which may include low-stress exerciseresting the kneea knee supportKnee Replacement surgeryPain-relief medications include anti-inflammatory drugs that will reduce the pain and swelling.TipsTaking care of the body and making healthful lifestyle choices can often help reduce the risk of chronic knee pain.LifestyleTips for reducing the risk of chronic knee pain and improving the outlook for existing knee problems include:reducing alcohol intakequitting smokingmaintaining a healthy weightObesity is a risk factor for many of the disorders that cause chronic knee pain. Keeping body weight in check can greatly reduce the risk of chronic knee pain.ExerciseExercise directly decreases the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, obesity, and osteoporosis.Activities that strengthen the knees can help reduce the symptoms of knee pain if OA develops.Low-stress exercises that may help improve or prevent knee pain include:swimmingcyclingwalkingDepending on the cause of the knee pain and the health status of the individual, a doctor can advise on what type of exercise will help, and how intense the exercise should be.SleepingSome types of pain — for example, OA — can be worse at night. Tips for getting a better night’s sleep include:finding a comfortable position, possibly with a pillow between the legsusing a long-lasting anti-inflammatory, for example, one that is effective for 12 hoursavoiding alcohol and caffeine, as these can disrupt sleepmaintaining good sleep hygiene, with regular times for going to bed and getting upavoiding sleeping aids as people need a higher dose if they use them regularlydoing low-impact exercise to help with both pain and sleepusing a firm mattress, possibly with a foam pad on top to help distribute your weightOther symptomsAs well as knee pain, a person may also have:weakness of the knee and an inability to stand properly or fully lengthen out the kneepopping sounds as the knee flexes or straightensswelling and stiffness around the kneeredness or warmth throughout the kneeThese will depend on the cause.Since many causes of knee pain can lead to the same symptoms, anyone who has knee pain that does not go away or who has severe pain should see a doctor.