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5 Questions for your Knee Pain

Knee problems are very common and they occur in people of all ages. Your knees provide stable support for the body and also allow your legs to bend and straighten; you need both flexibility and stability every time you stand, walk, run, crouch, jump and turn. Sports, exercise and even your daily activities can cause muscle strains, tendinitis, or more serious injuries to your knees.


To find the right relief you need, your physiotherapists have to identify the correct cause – here are several questions we usually ask when you come in for your first session.

Where is your pain?

Identifying the exact location of your pain greatly helps with your knee injury diagnosis.

The front of the knee is the most common area to get knee pain. Also known as anterior knee pain, it is usually related to the kneecap and can be caused by multiple reasons, such as runner’s knee and Osgood Schlatters. Pain at the back of the knee is usually related to arthritis, but it can also be due to a cartilage tear.

Pain on the inner side or medial knee pain is extremely common as more force tends to go through, making it prone to injury as compared to pain on the outer side (lateral knee), which is usually caused by irritation to one of the tendons, ligaments or cartilage.

If your pain is more diffuse, you may find it simpler identifying the pain origin by thinking about how the pain started.

When did the pain start?

Sudden knee pain is commonly caused by unusual twisting, an intense force through the knee from a fall or abruptly stopping, causing your leg to bend too far backwards. This would typically result in injuries to the ligaments and/or cartilage. You would usually feel instant pain or within the first 24 hours.

If your knee pain gradually started over time with no specific reason, it customarily indicates an underlying knee condition that may have been there for a while without you realising. Sometimes, your knees naturally cope with a developing problem for a period of time before it starts being uncomfortable for no obvious reason.

When does the pain improve or worsen?

Does walking up or down a flight of stairs trigger pain behind your knee? It could possibly be osteoarthritis. Patients with osteoarthritic knees also reports stiffness first thing in the morning or after prolonged sitting.

If you’re one to experience intense pain in the morning that slowly goes away during the day, you could be facing an inflammatory condition such as rheumatoid arthritis.

How do you describe your pain?

It can be surprisingly difficult to describe pain; after all, each of us experience pain differently, making it a subjective experience. A good starting point is a 0 to 10 pain scale. From there, think about whether you’ve been experiencing a dull, throbbing pain or a sharp, burning sensation.

A sharp pain would commonly point to an irritated nerve, rather than a joint problem while a dull, constant ache could be a sign of arthritis.


What else do you feel, besides the knee pain?

Specific symptoms that accompany knee pain tend to be one of the defining features of a knee pain diagnosis. A sudden popping sound at the time of injury usually indicates a ligament injury, while a clicking sound that comes with pain could refer to a torn meniscus.

A meniscus tear could also cause your knee to lock, forcing you to wiggle your knee around before it can move.

Usually, any knee problem may be accompanied with swelling but if it comes on gradually with no specific injury, it may be due to an underlying problem such as bursitis.

The above conditions are simply a few examples among many. If your knee pain comes with serious symptoms and lasts more than several days, it would be best to get a physical exam to find out the right diagnosis.

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