Knee pain: overview

Your knee is the largest joint in the body and carries almost half your weight. A healthy knee allows effortless, pain free movement. When your knee joint is diseased or damaged, the swelling, pain and stiffness can limit your ability to move and prevent you from doing daily activities.

What is knee pain? 

Knee pain can affect adults and children. A diseased or damaged knee joint can lead to:

  • pain and discomfort
  • swelling
  • stiffness and restricted movement.

Knee pain may come on gradually. Pain may come and go or occur only when you do certain activities or movements. In some cases, the pain may last for longer periods and you notice it when you’re sitting, lying down or even sleeping.


What causes knee pain?

Common causes of joint damage and resulting knee pain include:

  • osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis and cause of knee pain
  • rheumatoid arthritis or other forms of inflammatory arthritis
  • injury or dislocation
  • infection.

What can I do about knee pain?

Step 1: See your GP

If you have persistent pain and stiffness in and around your knee, make an appointment with your GP. Your GP will:
  • help diagnose, assess and monitor your symptoms using medical history, physical examination and imaging
  • suggest non-surgical treatment, such as medication, exercise, weight reduction.

Step 2: Try non-surgical treatment options

Your GP may recommend non-surgical treatment to help manage your pain. Treatments include:
  • Medication: paracetamol, anti-inflammatories
  • Exercise: walking, strength and resistance, water-based
  • Weight: weight loss and control
  • Therapy: physiotherapy, thermotherapy, acupuncture, TENS, self management
  • Walking aids or support: walking stick, frame, orthotic supports.

Step 3: Ask your GP for a referral

If non-surgical treatments don’t manage your pain effectively, your GP will refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon for assessment. The GP will give you a referral letter to take to Dr Boyle.