Causes of Knee Pain

Medical City Orthopedics & Sports Medicine is your source for information and treatment for knee pain in Las Colinas, Irving, Dallas and the rest of DFW. If you have knee pain and would like to schedule an appointment please call (214) 496-9700.

Typical treatments for knee pain.

Ligament Tears:

Tears typically occur during sports related activities, but can also occur when any type of stress is placed on the ligament, such as a fall or a motor-vehicle accident.

ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament):

The ACL is responsible for knee stability. Patients typically feel like their knee is "giving out" and are experiencing instability. Patients will describe hearing a "pop" and have their knee buckle or give way when they experience an ACL tear.

MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament):

The MCL is responsible for protecting the knee during side to side motions. An injury typically occurs when the outside of the knee is struck, causing the knee to buckle. The MCL tear may occur individually or as part of a compound knee injury where the ACL and meniscus are injured as well. Commonly, the amount of stress placed on the MCL to cause a tear will also cause damage to the ACL and/or meniscus.

PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament):

The PCL is responsible for holding the tibia (shin bone) in place and preventing it from sliding backwards. Injuries to the PCL occur when the knee joint is hyper-extended backward, placing stress on the PCL ligament. Patients will feel like their knee "popped out" and will feel some joint instability.

Cartilage Tear/Meniscal Tear:

There are two menisci that sit in your knee. These menisci sit in between the tibia (shin bone) and femur (thigh bone) and are made of tough cartilage that conforms to the inside joint of your knee. One meniscus is found on the inside of your knee (medial meniscus) and the other is located on the outside of your knee (lateral meniscus). Patients who have sustained an athletic injury can have meniscal tears, but patients can also experience meniscal degeneration with age. Symptoms could be pain, swelling, or tenderness when touching the meniscus.


Osteoarthritis is a common culprit of chronic knee pain. Also known as wear-and-tear arthritis or degenerative joint disease, Osteoarthritis typically affects patients over 50 years old, but can occur at any age. Several factors can lead to Osteoarthritis. Arthritis occurs when cartilage breaks down, decreasing the amount of cushion inside the knee. This can often cause bone to touch bone, creating pain. This degeneration commonly occurs with age.

Patellar Tendonitis:

The patellar tendon connects the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shin bone). Tendonitis occurs when the joint and surrounding tissues become inflamed. Discomfort occurs from overuse during activities that require running and jumping. Like with any injury that typically accompanies overuse, rest and ice/heat will provide patients with relief.

Chondromalacia Patella:

Chondromalacia Patella is typically called "runner's knee" and can cause discomfort under the kneecap. This occurs when the under surface of the kneecap becomes irritated. The under surface of the kneecap is covered by a smooth layer of cartilage; when this cartilage becomes irritated a blister can form on the cartilage. Typically, patients undergo physical therapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles for treatment.

Baker's Cyst:

Typically occurs when the patient has experienced a tear to the meniscus. Swelling occurs in the back of the joint.


Occurs when the bursa sac above the kneecap becomes irritated. Typically, patients will experience pain and swelling in the front of their kneecap.

Knee Effusion:

This is commonly known as "water on the knee". Effusion can occur from overuse, knee trauma, or an underlying disease or condition. To determine the cause, your doctor will typically withdraw some fluid from the knee to send to the lab. Also, removing the fluid will provide some immediate relief for the patient.

Osgood-Schlatter's disease:

Osgood-Schlatter's disease is common to children and adolescents and is also known as "growing pains". Typically, this occurs during rapid growth and is caused by the pulling of the tendons away from a bone just below the kneecap. A characteristic symptom of Osgood-Schlatter's is a painful bump in the upper part of the leg bone below the kneecap.

See Also: Journey Knee Replacement , Knee Pain Treatment