Intoduction to knee pain
Exeter Knee jointThe knee joint is the largest joint in the body and consists of three different bones. These include:

  • The Femur, this is the thigh bone
  • The Tibia, otherwise known as the shin bone
  • The Patella, also known as the kneecap

The lower end of the femur articulates with the upper aspect of the tibia, with the patella articulating within the grooves of the condyles within the femur. This constitutes the knee joint.

The stability of the joint is largely determined by 3 structures:

  • The Meniscus – this is a fibro-cartilaginous structure which increases the joints surfaces improving joint congruency.
  • The Muscles – there are numerous muscles that cross the knee joint as seen in the diagram. These permit movement and joint stability.
  • The Ligaments – these fibrous tissues have great tensile strength, resisting stretch. The ligaments in the knee are the medial and lateral collateral ligaments and the posterior and anterior cruciate ligaments.


Osteoarthritis which is largely due to the ageing process but can also be due to being overweight, historical overuse, having previous injury or trauma to the joint or having muscle weakness and imbalance. In the case of osteoarthritis the surfaces become damaged causing pain, stiffness, crepitus (creaking sound) and swelling. For our Osteoathritis Fact Sheet click here.


A knee sprain is when the ligaments of the knee are overstretched (sprained) or torn (ruptured). Sprains are classified by the degree of injury ranging from mild, moderate to severe with recovery time dependent on severity. The most common sprain is to the Anterior Cruciate Ligaments, an injury common in sports people. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, tenderness, popping sounds. In serious injury an ultrasound or MRI may be needed for assessment. For our Ligament Injuries Fact Sheet click here.

Meniscus tear 

The meniscus is cartilage that covers the surface of the joint reducing friction, stabilising and protecting the knee joint and acting as a shock absorber. Damage and tears to the cartilage are most commonly caused by sudden injury and is common in contact sports. This causes swelling and loss of mobility and as cartilage does not have its own blood supply, healing and recovery can be slow.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome / Runner’s knee 

Runner’s knee can affect anyone who does a lot of knee bending causing anterior pain around and under the knee cap. This can be due to overuse, poor alignment, problems with the feet, muscle imbalance or trauma. For our Patellofemoral Pain Fact Sheet click here.

Patellar tendonitis / Jumper’s knee 

Jumper’s knee is characterised by pain, tenderness and stiffness around the bottom of the kneecap. It can range from mild to severe and is caused by the tendon being under repeated strain (such as in activities that involve jumping and frequent change of direction). The increased force makes it more susceptible to micro-tears and degeneration which lead to inflammation of the tendon. Recovery is dependant on severity and surgery may occasionally be necessary.

ITB syndrome 

The Iliotibial band (ITB) is a ligament that runs from the hip and attaches just below the knee. It helps to both stabilise and to move the joint. Pain and swelling can occur either along the whole of the ITB or be more localised, such as around the lateral epicondyle of the femur bone. Numerous factors can affect the health of the ITB band such as overuse, biomechanics and muscular imbalances.

Bursitis of the knee

Also known as housemaids knee presents with swelling, pain and tenderness around the joint. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts to reduce friction in the joint and allows for maximum range of movement. The bursa in the front of the kneecap can become inflamed through repetitive movements such running or kneeling, or through trauma.

Recommended treatments

Diagnostic Skills
Trained in Orthopaedics
Manual Therapy Usage
Exercise Advice Usage
Diagnostic Skills
Trained in Orthopaedics
Manual Therapy Usage
Exercise Advice Usage

All of our acupuncturists are highly skilled in the use of acupuncture for knee pain. We use both Traditional and Medical Acupuncture dependant upon the practitioner’s choice or individual’s suitability.

Knee Pain News & Articles

Keep up to date with the latest news and articles on knee pain from the Estuary Clinic of Integrated Health.