My Symptoms

Knee pain: the causes

The causes of knee pain can be many.

In case of trauma, significant pain occurring in a traumatic context is often linked to bone, cartilaginous, ligamentous, or tendinous knee injury. The upper part of the tibia can be fractured, sometimes the lower part of the femur bone.

Very often, a ligament can be affected. It may be a slight sprain, but sometimes the ligamentous lesion is much more serious, and the ligament may have broken. The anterior cruciate ligament or the lateral ligament are frequently the victims of lesions. In skiing, football, the injury of the anterior cruciate ligament is common.

The meniscus, fixed at the top of the tibia and which participates in a good stabilization of the joint, can also be reached.

It happens that several elements of the knee are concerned by the trauma, we will speak of a bone fracture associated with a ligamentous tear.

Sometimes knee pain can occur without a trauma context. When pain occurs spontaneously, pain analysis should be methodical. Does it come to the effort, where exactly on the knee ...? The age of the patient is of course important to know, as well as his antecedents (did he do a lot of sport?). Is the joint swollen? Does it contain fluid (synovitis)?

Some of the most common causes of knee pain without trauma are:


In this case, the patient suffers from one or both knees especially by mobilizing his joint, walking ... In case of inflammatory attack, at an advanced stage of osteoarthritis, the knee may be hot and swollen. Osteoarthritis of the knee - called knee osteoarthritis - most often occurs in a person of a certain age, or who has solicited his knees a lot in the past. It is not uncommon for the patient to suffer from other locations of osteoarthritis (vertebral column, fingers, hip).

In osteoarthritis, the articular surfaces gradually deteriorate. First with cartilage involvement, then with ligaments ... The interarticular space decreases, and at a later stage the bones are affected.

Inflammatory rheumatism

The pain occurs especially in the morning when waking up, sometimes at the end of the night. The joint may be hot, slightly swollen. The pain of the knees can be accompanied by pain on other joints, in case of inflammatory rheumatism. Sometimes the patient is embarrassed by pain and stiffness in the morning.

Rheumatoid arthritis, which is an inflammatory rheumatism, affects women a little more often than men, around 40-50 years of age.

Inflammatory rheumatism can also affect children. Complementary examinations (including a blood test) are essential to ensure that knee pain is caused by inflammatory rheumatism.

An infection, a tumor

Infectious arthritis can affect the knee joint, which becomes painful, hot and cripples. Sometimes discomfort or pain may be related to the presence of a benign or sometimes malignant tumor (cancer). Here again, complementary examinations (in particular medical imaging) make it possible to establish this diagnosis.

The causes of a painful knee are in fact very numerous, still related to:

  • tendinitis,
  • a damaged meniscus
  • chondrocalcinosis (a joint disease of metabolic origin affecting mainly the elderly), etc.

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Read also :

> Meniscus surgery: how is it going?
> Osteoarthritis of the knee

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