The knees are the body’s largest and most-used joints, bearing the weight of the body and absorbing the impact of a lifetime of walking, running, and movement. Knee joints are intricate structures with components including bones, cartilage, ligaments, muscle tendons, and synovial membranes that line the joints and secrete synovial fluid for lubrication. These components serve various functions: connecting the bones, enabling movement, protecting the joint, and stabilizing the joint.

Knee pain has many possible causes including injury, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, infection, and gout. Another cause of joint pain is bursitis, the inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs in the joint that reduce friction.

At-home measures that may relieve pain include stretching, light exercise, rest, ice or heat application, massage, and anti-inflammatory medication. See your doctor for severe pain or for pain that doesn’t go away after three days. Your doctor may recommend additional treatment options such as prescription pain medication and physical therapy; joint injection may provide additional relief. Depending on the cause of your knee pain, surgery may be recommended.