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Burning Pain in Knee: When to Seek Medical Attention

knee injury
Dr. Garrett Stroup. Physical Therapist in Roseburg Area.


Dr. Garrett C. Stroup

DPT, VRC - Owner and Founder

We help athletes and active adults regain control of their injury without expensive surgeries or medications, so they can keep going.

Dealing with burning pain in knee joints can be a distressing experience. Whether you’re an athlete or someone leading a sedentary lifestyle, this discomfort can significantly impair your daily activities. But when should this type of knee pain be considered a cause for concern? This article explores the causes, symptoms, and remedies for a burning sensation in the knee and helps determine when to seek medical attention.


Knee pain, especially a burning sensation, is not uncommon and can result from several causes. These can range from mild conditions like muscle strain to severe issues such as arthritis or nerve damage. Understanding the root cause of your knee burning sensation is the first step towards effective treatment and pain management.

Our knees are a complex structure of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons, all working together to provide stability and mobility. When any part of this intricate system gets injured or worn out, it can lead to discomfort and pain. A burning sensation in knee and other joints can be particularly unsettling as it may signal not only an injury but also the possibility of neurological conditions.

Causes of Knee Burning Pain

old man have burning pain in knee

Common causes for a burning sensation in the knee include arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, and nerve impingement. Arthritis involves joint inflammation, leading to a burning or throbbing pain. Knee bursitis, on the other hand, is inflammation of the bursae, small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the knee joints. If you experience a knee pain that feels like a burn, these could be possible reasons.

Another common cause of a burning sensation in the knee is patellofemoral pain syndrome or “runner’s knee.” This condition is often due to overuse injury from repetitive activities such as running or jumping, leading to an ache or burning pain in the knee, predominantly at the front. Knee injuries, such as a cartilage tear or ligament damage, can also result in intense burning knee pain. Iliotibial band syndrome, another common issue among runners, especially distance runners, is another possible cause, characterized by a burning pain on the outside of the knee. Understanding these causes of burning knee pain is crucial for effective diagnosis and treatment.

How do I know if my knee pain is serious?

man have serious pain knee

While temporary knee burns may not be serious, certain symptoms warrant immediate attention. Intense pain, swelling, inability to move the knee, visible deformity, and accompanying fever are red flags. Another symptom to watch out for is persistent burning pain in the knee, particularly if it worsens over time or doesn’t improve with rest.

In addition to these, consider the nature of your pain. Is it localized, or does it radiate to other areas? A burning sensation in the knee that spreads to surrounding areas could indicate a more serious problem, such as nerve damage. Changes in the color or temperature of your skin around the knee can also be a sign of serious conditions like infections or circulatory issues.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Knee Burning Pain

therapist do treatment an old man burning pain in knee

If your knee pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other serious symptoms, it’s time to seek medical attention. This includes cases of a knee injury that result in a knee ligament tear or a cartilage tear, both of which could cause intense burning pain in the knee. Additionally, infections in the knee joint can cause the front of the knee to feel like it’s burning due to inflammation and swelling.

Furthermore, if the knee burning sensation affects your daily activities or sleep, it could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, such as ongoing wear and tear to the knee joint, resulting from conditions like osteoarthritis. Pay attention to the causes of burning knee pain; early diagnosis can lead to more effective treatment, like knee ligament repair surgery or targeted physical therapy. In such cases, do not hesitate to consult with us here at OrMobility Physical Therapy in Roseburg OrMobility.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Doctors diagnose knee burning pain using a combination of physical examinations, medical history, and imaging tests like X-rays or MRIs. Depending on the cause and severity, treatment options can range from physical therapy and medication to surgery. You can find more information about these diagnostic procedures and treatment options on Johns Hopkins Medicine website or the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Managing Knee Burning Pain at Home

While waiting for medical attention, simple home remedies can alleviate the discomfort. Over-the-counter pain relievers, cold packs, and rest can help. Gentle exercises and stretches can improve flexibility and strength. However, these should be carried out under guidance and avoided in case of severe pain. The Harvard Health website provides more advice on the benefits of walking to relieve pain.

Joint Effort: Final Takeaways

While a burning pain in the knee can be disturbing, understanding the causes and symptoms can help manage the condition effectively. Whether it’s due to a knee ligament tear, cartilage damage, or infection, knowing what’s causing your pain is the first step toward targeted treatment and recovery.

In the face of such discomfort, always pay attention to your body’s signals. Is the pain isolated to the front of the knee, or does it encompass the whole joint? Do other symptoms accompany it? These questions can help you assess the situation and decide when to seek professional help. Importantly, don’t hesitate to reach out to healthcare professionals when needed.

Remember, early diagnosis often leads to more successful treatment outcomes, and with the right approach, a burning sensation in the knee can be effectively managed and even eliminated.


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