A painful knee is a very common problem with many different potential causes. The likely cause of your knee pain will depend upon how or when it started, it’s location and if there are any other associated symptoms.
Common causes of knee pain following an injury include ligament sprain or strains, ligament rupture, damage to the cartilage or meniscus, or fracture or dislocation of your kneecap (patella).
If you have not sustained a specific injury that you can recall the potential causes of your knee pain include arthritis, tendinitis (inflammation or degeneration of tendons around the knee), bursitis (inflammation of the normal sacs of fluid under the skin around the knee), gout or an infection.
We would classify knee pain as minor - whether from an injury or not - if you are able to take some weight on the affected leg and feel well in yourself. In this case, it's best to try managing this with some simple measures at home, to see if you can get it better.
A cold pack applied to the painful area can be helpful along with simple painkillers and a short period of resting the knee. Anti-inflammatories may also help.
A knee support may help if you are concerned about twisting the knee, as this can help you to keep the knee straight or just bending forwards, not from side to side.
Depending on the severity of your knee pain, you are likely to be fit for work.
If your knee has had a significant injury - if you are unable to place weight on the affected leg or you have noticed significant knee swelling - you should seek urgent medical attention.
If you have not sustained an injury but you are experiencing severe pain associated with feeling generally unwell, feverish or, again, weight-bearing is impossible, you should also seek urgent medical attention.
If you have tried simple measures and your symptoms have not started to improve within 6 weeks, you should arrange to see your doctor.
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