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What Is the Most Common Cause of Knee Pain?

What Is the Most Common Cause of Knee Pain?

In a recent conversation we had with Dr. Brett Martindale, Sports Medicine Physician at Ogden Clinic, he told us that shoulder pain and knee pain are the two most common conditions that bring patients into his office. Dr. Martindale recently told us that rotator cuff tendonitis is the most common cause of shoulder pain. In this post, Dr. Martindale explains the most common causes of knee pain, and how they can be treated.

Q: What is the most common cause of knee pain?

A: Knee pain is a super-common condition that affects people of all ages – not just athletes. I don’t know that there’s any single most common cause. Knee pain can be the result of an injury, such as torn cartilage or a ruptured ligament. But just as often, knee pain can be caused by medical conditions like gout or arthritis.

Some of the most-common significant knee injuries include:

  • Fractures: Knee bones (including the knee cap) can be broken, often during vehicle accidents or other high-energy situations, such as skiing accidents.
  • ACL injury: a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee – one of the ligaments that connect your thighbone to your shinbone. These types of injuries are particularly common in people who play football, soccer and basketball.
  • Meniscus tear: a tear of the shock-absorbing cartilage between the thigh and shin bones of the knee. These are common in sporting activity, or sometimes even during everyday activity when the knee gets “tweaked.”
  • Knee bursitis: inflammation of the sacs of fluid that cushion the outside of your knee joint.
  • Arthritis: though not necessarily an “injury,” it can result from past injuries, or come on gradually with age.

Q: When should someone see a doctor?

A: Minor knee injuries may simply heal on their own without any major medical intervention. However, I’d encourage you to consider seeing a doctor if you:

  • Have swelling in the knee for no apparent reason, or following injury
  • See a deformity in the knee
  • Can’t bear weight on your knee
  • Are unable to fully extend your leg
  • Have a fever in addition to pain and swelling in your knee

Q: How can we prevent knee injuries?

A: Nothing is guaranteed, but there are a few things that you can do to decrease your chance of suffering a knee injury:

  • Stay at a healthy weight. Every pound you carry puts more strain on your knees. The less weight you carry, the less likely you are to suffer an injury or to develop arthritis in your knees.
  • Strengthen your leg muscles. Be sure to spend just as much time on your lower body as you do on your upper body. Pay special attention to exercises that strengthen your quadriceps and your hamstrings – the two major muscles most involved in supporting your knees.
  • Stretch. Tight muscles can contribute to knee injuries, just as weak muscles can.


Dr. Brett Martindale

Don’t live in discomfort. If you’re experiencing knee pain, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Brett Martindale.

Dr. Martindale now practices in Kaysville as well as Ogden. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Martindale, please click here or call 801-475-3300.