Knee painOverview

Knee pain can often be treated at home. You should start to feel better in a few days. See a GP if the pain is very bad or lasts a long time.

How to ease knee pain and swelling

Try these things at first:

  • put as little weight as possible on the knee – for example, avoid standing for a long time
  • use an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) on your knee for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
  • take paracetamol

See a GP if:

  • it does not improve within a few weeks
  • you cannot move your knee or put any weight on it
  • your knee locks, painfully clicks or gives way – painless clicking is normal

Get advice from 111 now if:

  • your knee is very painful
  • your knee is badly swollen or has changed shape
  • you have a very high temperature, feel hot and shivery, and have redness or heat around the knee – this can be a sign of infection

111 will tell you what to do. They can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone.

Go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111.

Other ways to get help

Go to an urgent treatment centre

Urgent treatment centres are places you can go if you need to see someone now.

They're also called walk-in centres or minor injuries units.

You may be seen quicker than you would at A&E.

Find an urgent treatment centre

Common causes of knee pain

Knee pain can be a symptom of many different conditions.

A doctor will suggest treatment based on the condition causing your pain.

They might:

  • refer you to hospital for a scan or specialist treatment (for example, surgery)
  • prescribe medication or physiotherapy

Use these links to get an idea of what can be done about knee pain. But do not self-diagnose – see a GP if you're worried.

Knee pain after an injury

Knee symptoms Possible cause
Pain after overstretching, overusing or twisting, often during exercise sprains and strains
Pain between your kneecap and shin, often caused by repetitive running or jumping tendonitis
Unstable, gives way when you try to stand, unable to straighten, may hear a popping sound during injury torn ligament, tendon or meniscus, cartilage damage
Teenagers and young adults with pain and swelling below kneecap Osgood-Schlatter's disease
Kneecap changes shape after a collision or sudden change in direction dislocated kneecap

Knee pain with no obvious injury

Knee symptoms Possible cause
Pain and stiffness in both knees, mild swelling, more common in older people osteoarthritis
Warm and red, kneeling or bending makes pain and swelling worse bursitis
Swelling, warmth, bruising, more likely while taking anticoagulants bleeding in the joint
Hot and red, sudden attacks of very bad pain gout or septic arthritis

Page last reviewed: 12/12/2017
Next review due: 12/12/2020