Osteoarthritis/Knee Pain

Knee pain can often be treated at home. You should start to feel better in a few days. Call 111 if the pain is very bad.

How to ease knee pain and swelling

Try these things at first:

  • put as little weight as possible on your 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:

  • knee pain does not improve within a few weeks

  • your knee locks, painfully clicks or gives way – painless clicking is normal

Get advice from 111 now if:

  • your knee is very painful

  • you cannot move your knee or put any weight on it

  • 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 your 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.

Other ways to get help

Treatment from a GP:

A doctor can suggest treatment based on what's causing your knee pain.

They might:

  • prescribe medicine or physiotherapy

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

Common causes of knee pain

Knee pain can be a symptom of many different conditions.

This information might give you an idea of what the cause might be. But do not self-diagnose – see a GP if you're worried.

Knee pain after an injury:











Knee symptoms

  • Pain after overstretching, overusing or twisting, often during exercise

  • 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

  • Teenagers and young adults with pain and swelling below kneecap

  • Kneecap changes shape after a collision or sudden change in direction

Possible Cause

Sprains and strains


Torn ligament, tendon or meniscus, cartilage damage

Osgood-Schlatter's disease

Dislocated kneecap