Knee Arthritis
Symptoms & Diagnosis

Knee arthritis symptoms vary greatly from person to person and even day to day.  Some days there may be no pain at all, other days you may be in agony.

Arthritis is commonly known as "wear and tear" and is caused by thinning and inflammation of the cartilage lining the knee joint and the associated bony spurs that develop around it, making the knee stiff and sore.

Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of knee pain in the over 50's affecting approximately sixteen million people worldwide.

Here we will look at how the most common symptoms of arthritis and how the disease is diagnosed.  To find out more about what arthritis is, what causes it and the best treatment option, visit the arthritis guide.

Common Knee Arthritis Symptoms

Knee arthritis symptoms vary massively between people and often fluctuate, but common symptoms include:

Here you can see the difference between a normal healthy knee and an arthritic knee

1) Pain

Pain is the most common complaint and is typically felt when trying to fully bend or straighten the knee e.g. squatting and with activities where lots of weight goes through the knee e.g. going up and down stairs or running.  The knee is often sore when you touch it.  Pain levels tend to fluctuate.  People often describe arthritis pain as being like a nagging toothache.  There are a number of things you can do to reduce the pain - visit the arthritis treatment section to find out more.

2) Stiffness

Another one of the most common knee arthritis symptoms is stiffness which can limit how much you can bend and straighten your knee.  Stiffness first thing in the morning or after prolonged inactivity e.g. sitting for long periods is a classic feature of arthritis. The stiffness usually eases after a few minutes of moving around.  Doing gentle exercises when you first wake up or when you are sitting can really help reduce this stiffness.

3) Swelling

Knee swelling is another common feature of arthritis.  The swelling tends to fluctuate and can cause pain and restricted movement.  Ice and tubigrip can really help to reduce the swelling associated with arthritis. Use the links to find out more.

4) Weakness & Instability

A vicious cycle of knee arthritis symptoms

Sometimes arthritis can cause weakness and instability around the knee, and the knee may give way at times.  A vicious cycle often exists with arthritis where due to pain, we move around less so the muscles get weak and the joint stiffens.  Then it hurts more so we do even less and the muscles get weaker still.  Strengthening exercises for the knee muscles can help to reduce this and are one of the most effective treatments for knee arthritis.

5) Fluctuating Symptoms

People often find their symptoms vary greatly. Some days they feel fine, other days they are in complete agony. Knee arthritis symptoms are often worse during:

1) Bad weather: the thinking behind this is that the change in air pressure affects the pressure in our joints
2) When we are stressed/anxious/tired: During these times chemicals are released in our body that make us feel pain more
3) When we are unwell: inflammatory chemicals are often released into our system when we are ill, increasing arthritis knee pain

Diagnosing Arthritis

Our new Knee Arthritis Book is out in paperback or for instant download on your Kindle.  Knee Arthritis: Take Back Control: From Exercises To Knee Replacements & Everything In Between

All the info you need, top tips, exercises & loads more. Available in paperback or on Kindle.
Find Out More

Read Reviews or Buy Now


Our new Knee Arthritis Book is out in paperback or for instant download on your Kindle.  Knee Arthritis: Take Back Control: From Exercises To Knee Replacements & Everything In Between

Top tips, exercises and loads more. Paperback or Kindle.

Find Out More

Read Reviews or Buy Now


Arthritis will be suspected from:
1) Your History: the information you give about your knee arthritis symptoms such as the location of the pain, activities that make it better or worse and what it feels like and
2) Physical Presentation
: the movements, strength and shape of your knee

If knee arthritis is suspected, your doctor will normally arrange for an x-ray which will confirm or deny the diagnosis. However, it is important to know that what the x-ray shows often bears little correlation with what people feel. For more information about this, visit the arthritis stages section.

Here we have concentrated on knee arthritis symptoms and diagnosis.  If you would like to find out more about this common condition, choose from the following links:


Arthritis Book: Everything you need to know in a handy book
Arthritis Overview:
Introduction to Arthritis
Causes of OA: What causes arthritis?
Stages of OA: How the disease and symptoms progress
Treatment Options: Whole range of ways to treat arthritis knee pain
Diet For Arthritis:  Which foods to avoid and which foods can help
Knee Replacements: Replacing an arthritic knee with a new one

Go to Arthritis Guide or Homepage

Your Comments

Share your knee pain experiences with others, whether it be ideas, top tips, things that worked well for you, problems you've had etc.......

© 2010-2016
Last updated 12th October 2016 is a trading name of Wilson Health Ltd
All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions apply

Protected by Copyscape Online Copyright Search

The material on this website is intended for educational information purposes only.  It should not substitute or delay medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

All the info you need, in our new book
Find out more

Read Reviews or Buy Now


See Also

What is Arthritis?

15 simple ways to reduce arthritis pain

Reduce pain with an arthritis Knee Brace

Exercises to improve arthritis

Search This Site

Visitor Comments

“This is one of the best self-help & info sites of any medical condition I've ever seen. Excellent work.” Amy, UK

"Your site and exercises have been a lifesaver! The explanations are so clear.  Thanks for your help and excellent work."  Claire, US

"I'm an RN. This is really useful, easy to understand info."
Jan, US

“Thanks to Lots of improvement after just two days.” Suresh, India

"This is the best self-help site I have ever seen for knee pain. It is very difficult to find such a comprehensive volume of information on one site without being advised to "Just purchase this product!" Many, many thanks" Jennifer, US

"Superb site, many thanks, so much helpful content especially the targeted strengthening exercises for me.” Gerri, UK

“Thank you so much, your response makes so much sense. Thank you again for your time in answering my questions.” Cynthia, US

"Your website is a gold mine, thank you very much."
Gavril, Denmark

"Thank you for this website and all the information, especially the videos. I suffer from knee stiffness and pain when standing and now I have some exercises I can do - thanks to you." Claire, US

"I LOVE your website. Out of all the others, yours is so informational and easy to read." Michelle, US

"This is the best site dealing with knee problems that I have come across. I will be putting the stretches and exercises into practise. Thank you!"
Margaret, S. Africa

"The information given by you is fabulous. Thank you." Nihal, India

"Your site is excellent! It covers everything you need to know about knee pain and it's treatment in an easy to understand format. Thanks!" Linda, US

"Brilliant website - highly recommended! And as nurse (25yrs exp) its written expertly and is very explanatory and easy to understand. Thank you!" Jo, UK