Advice and information for patients​

Knee pain is very common. Pain in the knee can be caused by a problem with the joint, muscles, tendons or other soft tissues. Pain may be caused by a specific injury or gradually build up over time. 

Most knee pain has a simple cause and will resolve within a short period of time. Even more persistent problems, such as osteoarthritis can be self-managed successfully with good advice and exercises.

How can I help myself to get better?

Minor injuries, such as mild sprains and strains, can be treated at home and should start to improve after a few of days. Using a protection, rest and ice regime initially can help.

Sedentary and inactive lifestyles increase the risk of developing pain and can also delay your recovery. Being active for 30 minutes in your day can make a big difference in your overall health and improve your pain. 

Pain relief

Getting the right pain relief to allow you to return to your usual activities is the key to success in the early stages. Pain killers, such as ibuprofen, paracetamol and gels can help. Make sure you discuss this with your GP or pharmacist.


Keeping your knee moving is important to stop structures stiffening up and your muscles becoming weak. You need to find the right balance between rest and exercise – some people find too much increases the pain while too little makes the knee stiffen up. Little and often movement is usually the best approach to help you get your knee back to normal.

Some basic exercises can be useful in easing your knee pain and to help it move better. If pain is the result of overuse or overtraining, try to reduce the amount of activity (rather than stopping it altogether) that may be exacerbating your symptoms for a short period, until the pain settles. You should then aim to slowly work back up to your previous activity level. If exercising does not affect your symptoms or improves them, try to stay as active as possible.

When should I see my GP or physiotherapist?

Many episodes of knee pain get better or improve on their own, however you should seek medical advice for the following: 

  • After a sudden traumatic or high impact injury
  • If the pain is severe or the knee is hot, red or very swollen
  • If you have tingling or numbness down the leg
  • If you develop acute knee pain at the same time as feeling unwell or having a fever you should see your doctor immediately

Specific knee conditions

If you have been given a diagnosis, below is some advice to help you manage your specific condition.