Knee pain can be caused by problems with the knee joint itself, or it can be caused by conditions affecting the soft tissues — ligaments, tendons or bursae — that surround the knee. Apart from osteoarthritis, the knee can be affected by ligament and cartilage problems.


Of the four major ligaments that support the knee joint and help control knee motion, two are most easily ruptured or torn: the medial collateral ligament (MCL), which connects the thighbone to the shin bone on the inside, and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which connects the thighbone to the shin bone in the centre of the knee.

Injury to the MCL cause pain and tenderness on the inside of the knee, wobbling of the knee or the knee giving way, swelling and sensation of the knee “opening up” with each step (in severe injuries).

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the main stabilising ligaments of the knee, and when it is injured the knee may feel as if it will buckle and give out. Tears or ruptures of the ACL occur frequently in sports.

How We Treat It

For MCL damage, your knee will be stabilised in a light brace. Ice and elevation will help reduce swelling. Limit physical activity until the pain and swelling go away. Surgery is rarely needed unless the ACL is also injured. Physical therapy can gradually improve your range of motion. Depending on the severity of the injury, it may take as little as a week or more than two months for you to return to normal activities. For ACL cases, surgery may be recommended to restore knee function, but is not always necessary.


The meniscus is a wedge shaped piece of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between your thighbone and shinbone. Sports injuries often cause sudden meniscus tears from direct contact, or as a result of twisting or turning the knee. Older people are more likely to have degenerative meniscus tears. As the cartilage weakens over time, twisting while squatting or getting up from a chair can cause a tear. Symptoms include feeling a “pop” in your knee, stiffness and swelling, catching or locking of your knee and limited range of motion.

How We Treat It

Along with the type of meniscus tear you have, your age, activity level, and any related injuries will factor into your treatment plan. Nonsurgical treatment includes rest, ice and elevating the joint, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers.

Surgical treatment usually involves arthroscopic surgery. An orthopaedic surgeon will insert a small camera and instruments in two or three tiny incisions around your knee, repair the meniscus, and/or trim away damaged tissue.