Top Four Causes of Knee Pain



Top four causes of knee pain: (injury, mechanical, infection, arthritis)

Knee pain is a common complaint. Knee pain may be the result of an injury or a medical condition — including arthritis, or an infection.  Symptoms of injury can include swelling and stiffness, redness and warmth, weakness, or instability, popping or crunching noises, and Decreased ability to straighten or bend the knee


  • MENISCUS TEARS: Are common and occur after twisting knee injury (often not remembered), or overuse.
  • ACL TEARs (anterior cruciate ligament) occurs during sports and car accidents. There is often a “pop” or “snap” that is heard with pain and swelling during the injury.
  • Fractures (broken bone) The bones of the knee, including the kneecap (patella), can be broken during falls or auto accidents. Immediate severe pain and swelling  is common.
  • Knee bursitis. Some knee injuries cause inflammation in the bursae (small sacs of fluid that cushion the front of your knee). Often occurs after falling onto the knee, or repetitive knee trauma such as working in the wood flooring, carpentry or floor tile business.
  • Patellar tendinitis. Tendinitis causes irritation and inflammation of tendons — the thick, fibrous tissue or the knee.  This inflammation can happen when there’s an injury to the patellar tendon, which runs from the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone. Common with runners and sports with jumping, or from frequent climbing or repetitive injury to the front of the knee.


  • Sometimes injury or degeneration of bone or more commonly cartilage, breaks off and floats in the joint space.
  • Iliotibial band syndrome: This occurs when the band of tissue that extends from the outside of your hip to the outside of your knee (iliotibial band) rubs against the outer portion of your thigh bone.
  • Dislocated kneecap: This occurs when the triangular bone that covers the front of your knee (patella) slips out of place.
  • Hip or foot pain. Frequent hip or foot pain may also eventually lead to knee pain.

Infection and Arthritis

  • Also called degenerative arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis. It’s a wear-and-tear condition occurring when the cartilage in your knee becomes thin, decreasing knee lubrication.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. The most severe form of arthritis is an autoimmune condition that can affect almost any joint in your body.
  • This type of arthritis occurs when uric acid crystals build up in the joint.
  • Often mistaken for gout, pseudogout is caused by calcium-containing crystals that develop in the joint fluid. Knees are the most common joint affected.
  • Septic arthritis. When the knee joint becomes infected, it leads to swelling, pain and redness. Often there is a fever. Septic arthritis can quickly cause extensive damage to the knee cartilage. Lyme disease may cause similar symptoms.
  • Patellofemoral pain occurs from inflammation between the knee-cap and thigh bone of the knee.

You are at INCREASED RISK when: 

  • Overweight and obese: This increases the stress on your knee joint, especially when going up and down stairs or ladders. Losing 10-15 lbs can make a big difference!
  • Lack of muscle flexibility or strength increases the risk of knee pain and injury.
  • Certain sports or occupations: Playing sports such as soccer, running, volleyball, skiing, and basketball greatly stresses the knee joint. Occupations such as construction, carpentry, and floor / cement work increase the risk of injury.
  • Previous injury: Previous knee injury increases risk of re-injury and pain.


Knee pain is common and if chronic, may cause much distress as the knees are used every day to support and carry the weight of the body.  Some knee injuries and medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to permanent joint damage if not treated appropriately. There are many options for pain relief, especially after the cause is identified. When medications such as Tylenol and Voltaren gel no longer help, schedule a consultation with your primary doctor before severe pain sends you to the surgeon.

Check out our article on ways to address joint pain



Albert Luongo, MS, PA, MBA, DMSc

Luongo Medical Care (LMC) 90 Morgan Street #203, Stamford, CT 06905, 203-461-4767

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