Knee Problems

Pain, swelling, stiffness and "water" on the knee are common symptoms. Follow this chart for more information about knee problems, possible diagnoses and self-care.

Our trusted Symptom Checker is written and reviewed by physicians and patient education professionals. Find a possible diagnosis by choosing a symptom and answering a few simple questions.

Remember, be sure to consult with you doctor if you feel you have a serious medical problem.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Did your knee pain or swelling begin after a fall, twisting injury, or after your knee was hit by an object or person?

  • Is your knee deformed?

  • Is your kneecap swollen, tender and warm, and do you have pain with activity?

  • Is your knee tender and swollen and does the pain get worse after sitting for a long time or after using the stairs?

  • Do you have a sharp pain behind your knee and is it painful to stretch your leg?

  • Do you still have a grinding feeling in your joint or does it ever lock even after your knee pain is better?

  • Is your knee swollen and/or red?

  • Do you have a fever along with swollen and/or red joints?

  • Has your knee become tender over many months or years and does the pain get worse when the weather changes?

  • Is the back of your knee swollen?

  • Are you between 12 and 18 years old and do you have a pain below your kneecap that gets worse with activity?

  • Are you younger than 18 years old and do you have knee pain?

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • Diagnosis

    Your knee may be FRACTURED and/or you may have seriously TORN some LIGAMENTS in the internal area of the knee.


    Self Care

    EMERGENCY
    See your doctor or go to the emergency room right away.


  • Diagnosis

    If you fell hard on your kneecap it may be FRACTURED. Otherwise, it may be bruised or you may have PREPATELLAR BURSITIS, an irritation of a small lubricating sac (called bursa) in front of the kneecap.


    Self Care

    See your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    Your symptoms may be from TORN CARTILAGE, a TORN LIGAMENT or CHONDROMALACIA PATELLAE, the softening of the ligament or cartilage underneath the kneecap.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. Rest and anti-inflammatory medicine may help relieve the pain.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a TORN HAMSTRING MUSCLE.


    Self Care

    Apply ice to the area and use an anti-inflammatory medicine. You may also wrap your thigh with an elastic bandage. Keep the injured leg elevated. See your doctor if there’s excessive swelling or pain.


  • Diagnosis

    This may be from TORN CARTILAGE.


    Self Care

    Use an anti-inflammatory medicine and rest your knee. If you keep experiencing pain or if your knee becomes swollen, see your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, but you may also have a more serious problem, such as RHEUMATIC FEVER.


    Self Care

    URGENT
    See your doctor as soon as possible. He or she will be able to tell what’s causing your symptoms.


  • Diagnosis

    Your symptoms may be from GOUT.


    Self Care

    URGENT
    See your doctor as soon as possible. He or she will be able to tell what’s causing your symptoms.


  • Diagnosis

    Pain and stiffness may be caused by OSTEOARTHRITIS.


    Self Care

    Try an anti-inflammatory medicine. Applying heat to tender joints may also help relieve the pain. If your symptoms don’t improve, see your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    The swelling may be from a BAKER’S CYST.


    Self Care

    Try an anti-inflammatory medicine. If your symptoms don’t improve, see your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have OSGOOD-SCHLATTER DISEASE.


    Self Care

    Apply ice to the affected area and rest your leg. See your doctor if your pain is severe or if the swelling is excessive.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a hip problem that feels like knee pain.


    Self Care

    See your doctor.


  • Diagnosis


    Self Care

    See your doctor.