3 Causes of Knee Pain 

 Oli Evans |   March 1, 2023

There are lots of factors that can cause knee pain; torn cartilage, an ACL injury, rheumatoid arthritis pain, knee osteoarthritis, patellar tendinitis, patellofemoral pain syndrome, the list could go on forever.

At the Pro Sport clinic, we see a large number of patients with knee injuries, from severe knee pain to mild knee pain. In fact, knee pain is one of the most common reasons patients visit our clinic.

However suffering from any sort of knee pain can be worrying especially when we are uncertain what it is that is causing it. We all do it, we tempt fate and innocently decide to let google diagnose our problem to help put our minds at ease. But what started out as an innocent search for answers suddenly turns into utter despair when you find the symptoms you’re experiencing warrant the need for a total knee replacement despite only just experiencing your pain for a day or two!

So let’s make one thing clear, google is a fantastic tool but it’s no professional in this area and every case of knee pain differs. In fact, we see a lot of knee problems and often they aren’t connected with any chronic disease or serious medical emergency. For the most part, sport and physical activities can play a key role. However this is why being assessed by a trained therapist is key to having a true understanding of the problem.

But today, I want to begin to help you understand some of the MAIN causes for knee pain that we commonly see within the clinic.

Read on to hear about:
1. Overload
2. Traumatic injuries
3. Arthritis

3 Causes of Knee Pain


One underlying cause for knee pain we see in the clinic more than any other is when the knee becomes overloaded. Why the overload actually occurs in the first place I wouldn’t be able to tell you specifically in this blog as everyone has a different story and a different injury history that will relate to your specific problem. That’s our job in the clinic to find this answer for you!

Put simply, our body is smart. When we damage a certain structure e.g. sprain an ankle, our body will remember this. We will then subconsciously make it a priority to ensure this old injury doesn’t become a problem again and hence neglect loading it efficiently. However over time this comes with its own problem. If something doesn’t want to do the work, something else will have to take up the slack. This in essence is how the overload begins.

As you can see from the image below we want all the muscles in the body to work together and equally. We have glutes, hamstrings, calves & quads all working at 25%. Even during times where we might bias a certain muscle group during an exercise, we still want the surrounding structures to contribute as to avoid that individual muscle being overloaded.

When people are feeling knee pain, the second image is possibly what might be happening with the muscles. As you can see the muscles at the back of the leg aren’t working as well as they should therefore the quad muscle is having to work a lot harder, which puts too much load down onto the knee, causing pain. Everybody is completely different but this is a good example of what might be happening.


If you want some more understanding on this topic, click on this video where our therapist, Oli explains this in a little more detail.

Knee Pain Example


Another cause of knee pain can at times be traumatic. This is where you will have a very specific mechanism of injury. Types of traumatic knee injuries could include:

  • Ligament tears
  • Meniscus tears
  • Bone fracture
  • Patella dislocations

Normally with these types of injuries you will experience a very sharp pain during the mechanism. You may also hear an audible popping noise. This then might be accompanied by bony deformity (if fractured or dislocated) as well as large amounts of swelling around the knee. In these cases, ensuring you get the suitable emergency medical attention is paramount in understanding what intervention is best suited for your diagnosis. Once we understand this we can then put a suitable rehab plan in place for your specific problem



There are 3 types of Knee Arthritis;

1. Osteoarthritis (gradual wear and tear)
2. Rheumatoid Arthritis (caused by an inflammatory condition and can be present at any age)
3. Post-Traumatic Arthritis (this can occur after injury such as a meniscal tear)

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the knee and is generally associated with “wear and tear” of the cartilage of your knee. The cartilage is the substance that helps protect and cushion our bones when we bend and straighten the knee joint.

When the cartilage “wears away” the space between the bones can become narrowed and this results in pain, stiffness and often swelling of the joint.
The stiffness and pain experienced can make daily activities such as walking and climbing stairs difficult.

You may also experience symptoms such as heat, clicking or locking of your knee, redness or pain that is worse after long periods of rest such as sitting or first thing in the morning after sleep.
Knee arthritis does progress over time which is why it is more common in older adults and the pain experienced can often be intensified as we age. The good news however is that we know especially in the early stages keeping active and doing the correct exercises can help manage the pain it causes.


Don’t Suffer With That Knee Injury

The causes of knee pain may always be different but our approach is always the same. Relieve pain and make sure it doesn’t come back.

If you’re lost and looking for some direction on how to safely and efficiently get your rehab back on track so you can get back to things you love then we’re here to help.

All you have to do is click here to book your FREE 1-1 initial assessment in which we’ll uncover the true cause of your pain and create a bespoke treatment plan so you can get back to the activities you want and need to do.

Click here or call 01484 443173 to book your appointment today

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