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A healthy knee is made up of bones that are held together by ligaments and stabilised by surrounding muscles. It also has cartilage and lubricating joint fluid (known as 'synovial' fluid) to protect and cushion the bones, allowing it to move and bend. [3,4]

Knee pain can result from problems with any of these structures. For example, in a knee with osteoarthritis, the cartilage protecting the ends of the bones wears out and the joint fluid loses its cushioning qualities, causing the bones to rub together. [4,5]

There are many different causes of knee pain, including:

  • Injuries, such as strains and sprains[3]
  • Inflammation from wear and tear[1]
  • Medical conditions, like osteoarthritis or gout[1]
  • Hip or foot problems[6]
  • Infection[1]


Diagnosing Knee Pain

If you have pain, stiffness, tenderness, loss of flexibility, or a grating sensation in your knees, it's important to talk to your doctor to find out what is causing it.[6]

Getting a correct diagnosis is the first step to finding a treatment that works for you.

To make a diagnosis, your doctor will record your medical history and perform a physical examination. They may also do tests, such as:[6]

  • Blood tests[3,6]
  • X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan or MRI[6]
  • Knee joint aspirate, where a small amount of fluid is taken from the knee using a needle[6]

Not all knee pain is serious, but some injuries and conditions like osteoarthritis can get progressively worse if left untreated. [6]

The good news is that, in general, treatment is available for most types of knee pain.[6]


The first step in managing your knee pain is to complete the Knee Pain Assessment to help your doctor recommend suitable treatment options for you.