Knee Pain Diagnosis Symptom Checker

If you’re not sure what might be wrong with your knee, our self-diagnosis tool is a good place to start.

It won’t replace a real doctor and cannot give a definitive diagnosis but it may help you better understand your symptoms.


Select your injury body area & symptom(s) below

Check boxes to select


Select from list of possible conditions




Disclaimer: This tool is for information purposes only and provides only an approximate guide as to what may be wrong with your joints. It should not be used instead of seeking professional medical advice or diagnosis.

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Why Does My Knee Hurt?

If you are experiencing knee pain when walking, knee pain when bending, knee pain when resting, or are hearing popping/clicking in your knee, etc., it may be a minor concern or indicator of a serious issue. 

Knee pain is usually caused by traumatic injuries, repetitive motion injuries, long-term wear & tear, or tissue disorders. Below are injuries that are common causes for knee pain, but it is best to enter your symptoms into our Knee Pain Diagnosis Symptom Checker to gain a better understanding of your injury. 

Common Knee Injuries

  • Meniscus tear: a tear in the cartilage in the knee. The knee often becomes unstable and the forces of weight-bearing concentrate onto a smaller area of the tibia, leading to arthritis. 
  • Ligament tear: a tear of any of ligaments in the knee: PCL, MCL, LCL, and the most common ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). 
  • Osteoarthritis (OA): osteoarthritis, or OA, is characterized by cartilage damage that, over time, exposes the underlying bone. Rubbing against the exposed bone produces symptomatic pain, inflammation, swelling, and stiffness.
  • Patellar dislocation: a patellar dislocation, or kneecap dislocation, is usually caused by either direct trauma to the knee or from a sudden twist or pivoting of the leg. A dislocation occurs when the patella shifts out of its normal position in the front of the femur. 
  • Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD): a disease in which localized osteocartilaginous separation at the level of the subchondral bone causes damage to the protective articular cartilage cover, subsequently producing pain and swelling. If untreated, this can lead to loose bodies in the knee. 
  • Bursitis: an injury or inflammation of the bursa, the tiny, fluid-filled sac that functions as a gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues of the body.
  • Baker’s cyst: an accumulation of fluid in the back (posterior) of your knee.
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Knee Pain Location Chart

Below is a chart that provides an approximate guide as to which part of the anatomy may be injured based on the location of your knee pain. It is for informational purposes only and should not be used instead of seeking professional medical advice or diagnosis.

Knee Pain Location Chart

Knee Pain Location Chart

Knee Pain Diagnosis Chart Sideview

Knee Pain Diagnosis Chart (Side View)

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Frequently Asked Questions About Knee Pain

There are various reasons why knee pain may occur, including:

  • Soft tissue injury
  • Cartilage injury
  • Bony injury
  • Ligament instability
  • Acute knee pain resulting from an injury, which may require treatments such as:
  • Knee osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Untreated, it is usually a progressive degenerative disease in which the joint cartilage gradually wears away.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis may be caused by:
    • A previous injury that was not effectively treated or managed
    • Poor body mechanics
    • Abnormal anatomy that wears on the joint over time
  • Inflammatory arthritis, such as gouty arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or Lyme disease, and other medical conditions may also cause knee pain.
  • Knee pain may also occur as a result of compensating for another injured or painful joint, such as the hip, ankle, or back.

Pain is not good for any tissue. It is a sign of damage or inflammation. If pain persists or interferes with daily life and activities, it is advisable to have it examined by a physician.

Here are some indications that your knee injury might require treatment:

  • If your knee is swollen immediately following an injury and the swelling never subsides
  • If your knee is still symptomatic after an injury
  • If you experience any popping, buckling, weakness, instability, intense pain, or consistent swelling.

Minor aches and pains resulting from overuse of the knee tissues can subside or resolve over time. However, recurring pain, swelling, or other symptoms should be evaluated by a physician.

Knee popping and clicking can be caused by a few things listed below. For a more comprehensive overview of knee noise, check out this article from Dr. Stone “What's Happening When Your Knee Goes Snap, Crackle, and Pop

  • Scar tissue or irregular cartilage.
  • Frequent popping and clicking during activity, or if it's hindering your activity, might be an indication that you should seek medical care. 
  • If the popping and clicking are associated with other symptoms, it might be an indication that there is an injury to the joint, most often a torn meniscus.

As for whether you should be worried, it's best to consult a doctor for a full diagnosis. 

Possible causes of knee pain without injury include:

  • Poor body mechanics
  • Overuse
  • Genetic anatomical abnormalities
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Unrecognized tear to the meniscus, ligaments, or articular cartilage

There are a few possible reasons why your knee may feel unstable, including:

  • Ligament injury: The most common cause of knee instability is an injury to one of the ligaments that support the knee joint, most commonly the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
  • Meniscus tear: A tear in the meniscus (the cartilage cushion between the thigh bone and shin bone) can also cause knee instability.

Knee pain when bending can be caused by:

  • Mechanical block: It could be due to factors such as scar tissues, torn cartilage, bone spurs, loose bodies, or joint space narrowing that obstruct flexion. This is commonly associated with osteoarthritis, and surgical intervention may be necessary in such cases.
  • Muscle or soft tissue tightness or injury: In other instances, the pain may be caused by tight muscles or soft tissue injury. Physical therapy with soft tissue massage and injections of lubrication (HA) and growth factors (PRP) can help alleviate these symptoms.

Knee swelling is not normal. Swelling in the knee joint typically indicates inflammation, which can be caused by various factors such as an injury, overuse, or an underlying medical condition. 

Common causes of knee swelling include:

  • Ligament or meniscus tears
  • Tendinitis
  • Bursitis
  • Arthritis (such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Fluid accumulation within the joint or behind the joint (Baker’s Cyst)

For more details on how to interpret knee swelling, you can find answers in Dr. Stone’s blog “Knee Swelling Q & A

To prevent knee pain, you can maintain a healthy weight, engage in regular exercise that strengthens the muscles around the knee, wear shoes with good cushioning, optimize your gait, and moderate activities that put excessive stress on the knee joint. 

To manage knee pain at home, you can:

  • ARICE = Active rest, ice, compression, elevation. (Active rest means exercising around your injury) 
  • Over-the-counter NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs): i.e., ibuprofen, naproxen

Determining if you need surgery for your knee pain depends on several factors including:

  • Diagnostic imaging results (MRIs & x-rays)
  • Cause and severity of your knee pain 
  • Impact on your daily activities
  • Effectiveness of conservative treatments already been applied

Here are some indicators that may suggest the need for knee surgery:

  • Conservative treatments have failed
  • Significant functional limitations
  • Structural damage or instability: If x-rays or MRIs reveal significant structural damage to your knee joint, such as a torn ligament, meniscus tear, or cartilage damage, surgery might be necessary to repair or reconstruct the affected tissues.
  • Chronic conditions
  • Traumatic injuries