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Why does my knee hurt?

Knee pain is very common. It can sometimes be concerning if it is very sore, but it is rarely because of anything serious. The knee is built to be very strong and is good at its job of holding your weight, walking and jumping. It is very difficult to damage.

Will I get better?

Most knee complaints will improve with time and some simple steps to help yourself. At times it might not feel that your knee can get better but very few people need any extra care than the steps below.

What about an x-ray or scan?

Interestingly, in most cases, having and x-ray or a scan is not useful in helping your knee get better. Of course, in certain situations they are important and necessary, but often the results will show you things that are meant to be there or normal for the age of your knee. That might mean that in a number of cases, what the x-ray shows is not really related to why your knee might be sore, which is why your GP or physio may have said that they might not be needed.

What can I do to help myself?

The best advice is to continue to use your knee as normally as you can. It may be sensible to make some adjustments to what you do with your knee whilst it is sore but it is important to know that using your knee is safe and the right thing to do.

What else can I do?

Exercise, particularly strengthening exercise, is the best medicine for most aches and pains including knees, even very sore knees.  Exercise can be anything that challenges your muscles and does not need to mean going to the gym or the swimming pool, as not everyone enjoys these things.
Being closer to your ideal body weight is likely to help your knee issue. Interestingly, it is often the process of getting fitter (eating ‘cleaner’ and being more active) that helps the waist line and can help sore knees feel better too!

But my knee is sore, should I really be using it and doing exercise?

Yes. You are safe to exercise and use your leg despite the fact that it might be a bit uncomfortable. Often, if you start avoiding things that you find difficult, it becomes more challenging to help your knee.


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Top exercise ideas

Here is a selection of exercises that are most useful for helping knee complaints. Click on the arrows to show the start and finish of each exercise. 

Exercise A

With something slippery underneath your heel (glossy magazine/ plastic bag), slide your heel towards you bottom and away again.  As you straighten your knee try to tighten your thigh muscles to push the knee down as far as possible.   Complete little and often throughout the day

Exercise B

Lying on the bed. Lift your bottom off the bed towards the ceiling, hold briefly (1-2 seconds) and slowly lower back down to the bed (3-5 seconds). Repeat 8-12 repetitions aiming for 3-4 sets in total.

Exercise C

Stand with a chair behind you. With your chest up, poke you bottom out and slowly (3-5 seconds) lower yourself down to the chair. Do NOT sit down. Rise up and repeat. Repeat 8-12 repetitions for 3-4 sets in total.

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