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Learn about your dull, achy knee pain, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your dull, achy knee pain from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Dull, Achy Knee Pain Checker

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Your Dull, Achy Knee Pain May Also be Known as:
Dull knee pain

Dull, Achy Knee Pain Symptoms

The knee is the largest and most stressed joint in the body. It is a complex system of bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and muscles responsible for weight-bearing and movement.

The knees are used for walking, stepping, sitting, even standing – as a result, the knee is susceptible to various conditions that can cause dull or achy knee pain.

Dull, achy knee pain is often a sign of a chronic condition. Associated symptoms are very similar to those of temporary/ acute conditions such as:

Nevertheless, chronic knee pain is very different from acute pain and also requires evaluation from your physician.

Dull, Achy Knee Pain Causes Overview

Unlike acute conditions, dull achy knee pain is not usually the result of one singular incident. It is often the result of multiple causes that involve stress, inflammation or untreated injury to the multiple components of the knee. The components of the knee include

  • Bones. The femur (thigh bone), patella (kneecap) and tibia (shin bone). The actual knee joint works to keep these bones securely in place.

  • Cartilage. The minuscular and articular cartilage act as cushions around the bones that reduce friction during movement and help the bones move smoothly against each other. There is a medial meniscus on the inner side of the knee and a lateral meniscus on the outer side of the knee.

  • Ligaments. The knee has four ligaments that connect bones to other bones and promote stability. They are the medial collateral, lateral collateral, posterior cruciate and anterior cruciate ligaments. These ligaments prevent the side to side movement of the femur as well as excessive backward and forward movement of the femur and tibia.

  • Tendons. Tendons are like ligaments but connect bone to muscle (instead of bone to bone). The patellar tendon is the largest tendon of the knee and attaches the quadriceps to the patella and then the patella to the tibia.

  • Fluid. The joint capsule and bursa are fluid filled membranes that lubricate the joint and reduce friction.

Untreated Injury

If any component of the knee is not working properly, the other parts of the knee will try to compensate, and the resultant stress will inevitably result in chronic issues. Furthermore, since the knee is so susceptible to injury - the bones of the knee can become fractured, ligaments and tendons can become sprained or torn, and cartilage can twist – it is important to address problems early to prevent problems in the future.

Inflammation

  • Arthritis. Arthritis is the general term for multiple conditions that cause painful inflammation and stiffness of the bones and joints. Arthritis can affect the bones and fluid-filled areas of the knee resulting in significant irritation that can cause chronic stiffness, discomfort and dull, achy pain.

Musculoskeletal Dull, Achy Knee Pain Causes

  • Biomechanics. Problems in the way in which the parts of the knee work together due to weakness in gait while walking or form while running can result in chronic knee pain, especially if not followed-up. Such problems can result in conditions such as Iliotibial band syndrome that can cause dull, achy knee pain symptoms.
  • Mechanical. Issues in the knee such as loose bones or cartilage in the joint space and dislocations of the actual kneecap can also result in chronic knee issues and pain.

Top 6 Dull, Achy Knee Pain Causes

  1. 1.Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

    The kneecap (patella) is located directly in front of the thigh bone (femur), and should normally glide freely up and down. In this condition, called patellofemoral pain syndrome, the kneecap may rub against the thigh bone instead of gliding smoothly, causing damage and pain.

    You should visit your primary care physician. While you can safely take steps to treat this condition at home (avoiding strenuous use of the knee and taking over-the-counter pain medication), your doctor may coordinate care with a physical therapist to help manage your pain and function of the knee.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    knee pain, pain in one knee, knee pain that gets worse when going up stairs, dull, achy knee pain, knee pain that gets worse when squatting
    Symptoms that always occur with patellofemoral pain syndrome:
    knee pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Iliotibial (It) Band Syndrome

    Iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome is the lateral knee pain that results from overuse that occurs after repetitive motion. It is the most common cause of lateral knee pain in runners and cyclists.

    You should go see your doctor in the coming days/weeks regarding your knee pain. He/she will assess the severity of your iliotibial band syndrome and determine the proper course of treatment (ranging from physical therapy and anti-infammatory medicine to corticosteroid injection or possibly surgery).

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    knee pain, pain in one knee, dull, achy knee pain, knee pain that gets worse when going down stairs, sharp knee pain
    Symptoms that always occur with iliotibial (it) band syndrome:
    knee pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Infrapatellar Bursitis

    Bursae are small fluid-filled sacks located around the body in strategic locations to provide a cushion and help reduce friction. There is a pair of bursae below each kneecap (patella). Infrapatellar bursitis is a condition where these bursae are inflamed. It is a common cause of knee pain in people whose work involves frequent kneeling on hard surfaces.

    You can safely treat this condition on your own. Rest and elevation (raising the knee up when sitting or laying down) are effective home remedies. You might also consider avoiding kneeling postures, as well as take over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetominophen (Tylenol) to help with any pain symptoms.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one knee, spontaneous knee pain, knee pain that gets worse when going up stairs, dull, achy knee pain, knee pain that gets worse when squatting
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

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  4. 4.Baker's Cyst (Popliteal Cyst)

    A Baker's cyst, also called as Popliteal cyst, is a fluid-filled mass that causes a bulge and a feeling of tightness behind the knee. The pain can get worse when the knee is fully flexed or extended.

    Although a Baker's cyst may cause swelling and make you uncomfortable, treating the probable underlying problem (i.e. knee arthritis) usually provides relief. Your doctor will be able to determine whether surgery, though unlikely, is needed.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    calf pain, swollen knee, knee pain that gets worse when squatting, painful knee lump, knee instability
    Symptoms that always occur with baker's cyst (popliteal cyst):
    lump on the back of the knee, constant knee lump
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Repeated Kneecap Dislocation (Patellar Subluxation)

    Recurrent patellar subluxation is the continued instability of the kneecap, which causes anterior knee pain and usually occurs laterally. It occurs unpredictably with varying durations.

    Your doctor will be able to make a diagnosis regarding the severity of your recurrent patellar subluxation using X-ray and/or MRI. Basic rehabilitation is the preferred conservative treatment, but in certain cases surgery may be necessary to stabilize the recurring dislocations.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one knee, dull, achy knee pain, pain in the front of the knee, pain in the inside of the knee, swollen knee
    Symptoms that always occur with repeated kneecap dislocation (patellar subluxation):
    kneecap dislocation
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Osgood - Schlatter Disease

    This condition is a common cause of knee pain amount children and adolescents who play sports, and usually affects children 16 and younger. Osgood-Schlatter Disease usually develops due to overuse of the large quadriceps (quad) muscle which makes up the front of the thigh. The muscle pulls on the kneecap and the kneecap (patellar) ligament, which attaches to the upper part of the shin bone (tibia). With overuse, redness and soreness may develop in the knee.

    You can safely treat this condition on your own. The problem will go away on its own without any specific treatment. Over-the-counter pain medication may help with the occasional flare-up.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    knee pain, knee pain that gets worse when squatting, knee pain that gets worse during a run, knee pain that gets worse when going up stairs, knee pain that gets worse when kneeling
    Symptoms that always occur with osgood-schlatter disease:
    knee pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

Dull, Achy Knee Pain Treatments and Relief

Chronic pain requires professional medical attention. Treatment depends on your specific diagnosis and extent of your dull, achy knee pain symptoms and may include one or all of the following;

Physical Therapy or Rehabilitation

Your doctor may prescribe stretching exercises or a physical therapy/rehabilitation program to help you restore range of motion, strength and stability to your knee. A physical therapist can assess problems with your walking gait, running pattern and other musculoskeletal issues and develop a rehabilitation plan that is best for you.

Non-inflammatory medications

Your doctor may prescribe this type of medication to combat arthritic processes that are causing chronic knee pain.

Surgery

If at home remedies and medication options from your doctor do not provide relief, you and your doctor may look into surgical options.

In addition to your physician's treatment suggestions above, there are many measures you can take in your daily life to prevent development of chronic knee pain:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. The knees bear all of the body's weight, so extra pounds can cause unnecessary stress and strain, increasing risk of injury.
  • Be strong and flexible. The quadriceps and hamstring muscles provide support to the knee joint, so keeping them strong, conditioned and flexible will benefit the functioning of the knee as a whole.
  • Practice technique. If you participate in competitive sports and practice often, ensure that your techniques and movements are not putting unnecessary stress on your knees. Work with a coach to ensure that when your run, jump or move side-to-side, your knee is in the best position to prevent injury.
  • Listen to your body. If you find yourself experiencing mild or transient knee pain after certain activities, listen to your body and take a break! Rest, ice and elevate your knee once you first notice symptoms and make an appointment with your physician promptly.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Dull, Achy Knee Pain

  • Q.Is your knee pain getting better or worse?
  • Q.How severe is your knee pain?
  • Q.How long has your knee pain been going on?
  • Q.Is the knee pain affecting one or both knees?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our dull, achy knee pain symptom checker.

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Dull, Achy Knee Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced dull, achy knee pain have also experienced:

    • 10% Knee Pain
    • 10% Dull, Achy Hip Pain
    • 5% Moderate Knee Pain
  • People who have experienced dull, achy knee pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 35% Over a Month
    • 30% Less Than a Day
    • 17% Less Than a Week
  • People who have experienced dull, achy knee pain were most often matched with:

    • 50% Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
    • 50% Iliotibial (It) Band Syndrome
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Dull, Achy Knee Pain Checker

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