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Sore Knees: What Causes Knee Soreness and How is it Treated?

What is Sore Knees?

It happens quite often that after a prolonged walking stint, or aggressive sprint, or a cross country race you feel the knee which otherwise is normal starts to become painful and hurt. Your knees may hurt to such an extent that you may find it tough to even walk for quite some time. This Knee Pain may be present for some time before it resolves either on its own or by taking some measures which is described below. This is what is called as Sore Knees.1 There are many activities which may cause knee soreness even if you are not an athlete or indulge in running or sprinting activities. Activities like standing for long periods of time like when working as a greeter or if being in a job where you have to bend the knees repetitively for long hours may cause knee soreness at the end of the day. Below mentioned are some of the common causes of Sore Knees and what to do for it.

What is Sore Knees?

What Causes Knee Soreness and How is it Treated?

Knee Soreness Caused Due to Runners Knee: This is the most common cause of a Sore Knee. One should not be misdirected by the name of the condition as it is common to both athletes as well as people who are not involved in any kind of sports. Pain due to Runners Knee is felt in the front of the knee and is seen mostly in people who are involved in prolonged walking or standing. The pain is felt in the front of the kneecap and can be related to issues with the movement of the knee joint or some sort of muscle imbalance which creeps up with passage of time. The patient may also experience swelling and tenderness over the kneecap along with pain. The person suffering from sore knees may also find it tough to negotiate stairs. This condition usually resolves on its own after a few weeks of rest and avoiding activities that aggravate the condition. Pain killers can also be used and elevating the affected leg when sleeping at night can help treat knee soreness.

Knee Soreness Caused Due to Chondromalacia Patella: This condition is seen in adolescents who are into sporting activities. Chondromalacia Patella is seen generally in women and the reason behind this is a damage done to the cartilage due to repetitive stress put on the knee.2 The person will feel pain in the front of the knee and makes it difficult to climb up and down stairs. It will also make it difficult for the person to stand up after sitting for some time. The person may also experience a clicking or a popping sound when walking. To get rid of Sore Knees due to Chondromalacia Patella, the patient needs to seek a medical opinion where the physician will suggest ways to treat the pain. Medications for sore knees may also be prescribed to get rid of the pain. The physician will also recommend taking rest for a few weeks and suggest certain exercises to calm down the inflammation and pain.

Knee Soreness Caused Due to Osgood Schlatter Disease: This medical condition is found mostly in teenagers who have an unusual growth spurt where the bones grow at a much faster rate than the muscles resulting in friction. It then causes a small bony lump to be formed beneath the patella which causes pain or soreness in the knees. Treatment for this condition includes utilizing over the counter pain killers along with regular stretching exercises for the knee. It usually takes about a couple of years for this condition to settle down and completely get rid of the pain.

Knee Soreness Caused Due to Arthritis: Arthritis usually strikes people after they cross the age of 50. It is well known that arthritis is a condition which is caused by wear and tear of the cartilage due to aging and use. Arthritis can cause severe pain in the knees along with swelling and tenderness and reduced motion of the knees. Treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition which may range from exercises to even surgery at times.

Knee Soreness Caused Due to Bursitis: Bursitis is a condition resulting from inflammation of the bursal sac which contains fluid and act as a shock absorber for the knees.3 Overuse of the knees in the form of repetitive jumping, running, sprinting and the like causes this bursa to inflame resulting in sore knees. Treatment for knee soreness due to bursitis generally includes avoiding activities which may aggravate the condition. Following the RICE protocol is also beneficial. Pain killers can also be utilized for control of pain. NSAIDs are also useful for calming down the swelling and inflammation. At times if the bursitis gets infected then surgery may be required to treat the condition.

Knee Soreness Caused Due to Bakers Cyst: This condition is quite common and causes pain behind the knees. The cause for Bakers Cyst is inflammation of the popliteal bursa. It can also be caused due to arthritis or a trauma to the knee in the form of an injury or some other medical condition affecting the knees adversely. For treatment of Bakers Cyst, the physician may prescribe steroid injections for pain relief. The physician may also recommend aspiration of the fluid accumulated in the knee due to this condition. Diligent physical therapy is also helpful for treating this condition.

Knee Soreness Caused Due to Housemaids Knee: This condition is quite common in people who bend the knees repetitively for a lengthy period of time like carpet layers and roofers and thus causing sore knees. Treatment for this condition consists of following the RICE protocol, using NSAIDs for pain relief and calming down the swelling and inflammation. The physician may also recommend stretching exercises for treating knee soreness sue to Housemaids Knee.

Knee Soreness Caused Due to Jumpers Knee: This condition affects mostly football players who kick the ball repetitively and use the knees a lot while playing, as these activities puts a lot of pressure in the knees resulting in them getting sore at the end of the game. Repeated activities like this can also cause a tear of the muscle or tendon in the knees causing pain and swelling with reduced motion of the knee. Treatment for sore knees caused due to Jumpers Knee basically consists of taking rest for a period of time till the symptoms calm down. Over the counter pain killers may also be helpful. Apart from this, the physician may recommend NSAIDs along with stretching and strengthening exercises for treatment. In some cases where there is complete tear of the tendon then surgery may be recommended to treat the condition.

Other Causes of Sore Knees Include:

Sore Knees from Sitting: If your job involves sitting for long hours then there is a high possibility that you may experience knee soreness at the end of the day due to inactivity. Best way to prevent sore knees from sitting is to take frequent breaks, stretch your legs, walk a bit and then resume your activity requiring sitting.

Sore Knees from Workout or with doing Squats: Knees play an important role in giving you the required support while exercising or working out. It is very common to experience knee pain or sore knees after performing activities like squatting or activities involving jumping like volleyball or basketball. One of the ways to prevent sore knees from workout or with doing squats is to wear proper knee supports. Do some post workout stretching exercises like hamstring stretch and quadriceps stretch. If you start experiencing knee pain, then it is important to stop doing that activity. Icing the area is an effective remedy for sore knees from workout or with doing squats.

Sore Knees from Running: Running is a very common cause for sore knees as it is your knee that bears the maximum weight of the body while running. Poor training techniques often leads to knee pain with running. Wearing improper footwear or running on uneven surfaces, or running for much longer time or at a faster pace than what your body is used to can cause knee soreness. Best way to prevent sore knees from running includes wearing proper, light weight and well cushioned footwear. If you tend to have problems with your knee, then it is better to wear the right knee brace while running to give extra support to your knee and prevent it from getting sore. It is imperative for the health of your knee that you perform proper warm up and cool down exercises. Lastly, do not overdo things. If your knees hurt while running then you need to stop it and opt for conservative treatment like heat and cold therapy, PT, NSAIDS etc.


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 6, 2019

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