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reviewed 7/16/2018

Knee pain: True or false?

Knee pain can occur at any age as a result of disease, injury, or wear and tear. It can come on suddenly—or develop over time. Find out how much you know about knee pain.

True or false: The most common disease behind painful knees is osteoarthritis.

True. Knee pain can be caused by disease or injury. But when it's due to disease, osteoarthritis is the most common reason. Osteoarthritis occurs when the shock-absorbing cartilage between the knee's 2 bones wears away. It usually occurs in people who are at least 50 years old.

True or false: Being overweight has little effect on knee pain.

False. Every excess pound that you carry puts about 5 extra pounds of pressure on your knee whenever you use the stairs. If you're overweight, talk to a doctor about how losing weight could help protect your knees.

True or false: Knee pain only indicates a problem if it's in the back of the knee.

False. Knee pain that occurs anywhere around the knee joint may indicate a problem. Many things can cause knee problems. Mild pain may clear up with home care, but if it's severe or long-lasting, you may need to see a doctor, who will ask about your symptoms and do a physical examination.

True or false: Riding a bicycle is bad for your knees.

False. Riding a bicycle can help prevent knee problems by strengthening the leg muscles that support the knee.

True or false: If I have knee problems, I should avoid running.

True. High-impact exercises like running are usually discouraged for people with knee problems. Swimming or walking is a safer choice. But whether you're a runner, swimmer or biker, you can take steps to help prevent knee injuries. For example, incorporate flexibility and strength programs into your exercise regimen. It's also important to avoid overtraining.

Sometimes knee pain can be treated at home with over-the-counter pain relievers and rest. If the pain continues for more than 3 days, however, call a doctor.

Prevent knee problems

Sources: American College of Sports Medicine; American Physical Therapy Association; National Institutes of Health

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