Managing Knee Pain

Knee pain has a number of different causes. Whatever the cause, exercise and keeping to a healthy weight can reduce symptoms.

How does the knee work?

The knee joint is where the thigh and shin bones meet. The end of each bone is covered with cartilage, which allows the ends of the bones to move against each other almost without friction.

The knee joint has two extra pieces of cartilage called menisci, which spread the load more evenly across the knee. The knee joint is held in place by four large ligaments.

These are thick, strong bands which run within or just outside the joint capsule. Together with the capsule, the ligaments prevent the bones moving in the wrong directions or dislocating.

The thigh muscles (quadriceps) also help to hold the knee joint in place.

What causes knee pain?

There are many different causes of knee pain.

A common cause is osteoarthritis, a condition that affects the body’s joints. The surfaces within the joint are damaged so the joint doesn’t move as smoothly as it should.

Your doctor will be able to tell you what has caused your pain, but the information and exercises here will be relevant for most cases.

Exercise and Knee Pain

It is always important to exercise safely. Here are some general suggestions to help you:

  • See your doctor before starting any new exercise program. If you have had a joint replaced, find out from your surgeon, or health professional such as a physiotherapist, which movements you should limit or avoid.
  • Start gently and increase the intensity of your exercise program gradually over weeks or months.
  • Pay attention to good technique and try to move smoothly. Don’t force a joint beyond a comfortable range of movement.
  • If an activity causes you pain or increases your pain beyond what is normal, stop straight away and consult your healthcare professional.