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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.
- 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
|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
|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
|Kneecap changes shape after a collision or sudden change in direction
Knee pain with no obvious injury
|Pain and stiffness in both knees, mild swelling, more common in older people
|Warm and red, kneeling or bending makes pain and swelling worse
|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