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Knee Pain

Knee Pain

The knee is very prone to pain because it is easily damaged when it’s taking the full weight of your body during everyday activities. When you do anything more intense, such as running or jumping, the forces on the knee are hugely increased. Sports that involve twisting and turning on your legs, such as netball, skiing or football, carry a high risk of injury to the knee. Therefore, it’s not surprising that while exact figures are hard to come by, knee pain is extremely common.

Common conditions associated with the knee joint include:

Treatment options

Treatment for knee pain will depend on the nature of the condition and the severity.

A simple grade one sprain for example may simply require a few days’ rest, whereas a grade 3 sprain may require surgery to replace / reconstruct the ligament, a period of time in a rigid knee brace (so you can’t bend it) and then a few months of physio to strengthen the joint once again (totaling about 9 months).

It is because of this and the wide range of treatment options and recovery times that having a professional diagnosis is essential in the first instance in order to best establish the treatment pathway most suited to you.

Before you go to your doctor (as you might not need to) you should refer to the RICE protocol: 

  • Rest: Put your feet up and take it easy (seriously!). The last thing you need it to make it worse from carrying on.
  • Ice: An ice packed wrapped in a tea towel (as applying straight to the skin can cause ice burns) for 15 minutes at a time will help to reduce swelling and inflammation (as well as offering pain relieving benefits)
  • Compression: The application of a compression sleeve (brace) will help to manage inflammation when active as well as offering pain relieving qualities
  • Elevation: Elevating the affected area (your knee in this case) above the level of the heart will slow down the flow of blood to the region and help to reduce swelling

RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) Protocol Infographic

Should your knee pain fail to show any signs of improvement after 24/48 hours then you should go and visit your doctor. Obviously if your injury is serious (this will be pretty obvious from the outset) then you should seek medical attention straight away.

Red flags: When to see your GP

There are some red flags in relation to knee pain that should send you to the GP for a consultation. These include situations where:

  • You can’t put weight on your knee at all
  • There is severe knee pain, especially at night
  • Your knee clicks or locks
  • You can’t straighten or bend your knee fully
  • The knee looks different
  • The knee is swollen, red or hot
  • There is swelling, numbness, pain or tingling of the calf beneath the knee

Your doctor will ask you a series of questions in order to understand the root cause of the problem and the extent of the damage and may refer you for further tests which may include blood tests, an x-ray or an MRI before a true diagnosis can be made a suitable treatment plan devised.


You may find the following pages useful

  • www.painconcern.org.uk: Expert explanations about where pain comes from, what it is and how pain becomes a condition in its own right
  • www.paintoolkit.org: For people who live with persistent pain and Healthcare teams who support them
  • Oxford Knee Score Evaluation Test: The Oxford Knee Score assessment can help you understand the level of pain you are experiencing through 12 questions regarding your daily living

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