My Condition

Knee pain (Osteoarthritis)

My knee pain

A common cause of knee pain is osteoarthritis (OA) Osteoarthritis is a condition which can cause joint pain with varying degrees of functional limitation and effect on quality of life. It is common, affecting people all over the world and at least 8 million people in the UK.

Anyone can develop OA, the larger weight-bearing joints are most commonly affected – hips and knees. It develops in previously healthy joints, normally in people over 45. It can also develop in younger people after a fracture or similar injury.

It is twice as common in women as men, and more likely in people who are overweight.

Most patients with knee pain, including osteoarthritis, will be referred for a course of physiotherapy as the first step.

Surgery is for people who have severe symptoms and have tried other treatments without success.

Please note that knee arthroscopy for patients with osteoarthritis (keyhole surgery) is not routinely available on the NHS, unless there is a clear history of mechanical locking.

This is because alternative, more effective and less risky treatments, such as exercise programmes, losing weight (if necessary) and managing pain have been shown to result in more positive outcomes for patients. Please read the associated policy here.

Managing my knee pain  

There are various ways of managing knee arthritis without surgery, the  main goals being:

  • reducing pain 
  • increasing joint mobility
  • preventing further joint damage

Many people find that self-help measures are enough to help them manage their symptoms, but your physiotherapist will be able to suggest other treatments if you need them. There isn't likely to be one single thing that will help reduce pain, or increase mobility, but by trying a variety of things that work for you improvements can be made.

Click here for a list of exercises that may help your knee pain.

Deciding what to do about Osteoarthritis of the knee

This is a helpful tool to support you when deciding how best to manage your knee pain. Use it on your own, or with help from a clinician, this will take you quickly through the different options.

Click on the boxes below to read more.

5 main options if you have osteoarthritis of the knee

How will this help my pain?

How will my mobility be affected?

Will my arthritis get worse?

How will it affect my quality of life?

Are there any side effects or complications?

How much time will I spend in hospital or receiving treatment?


Videos about my knee pain  

23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

Dr Mike, Reframe Health Lab | published 2 December 2011

Support for managing my knee pain