What causes burning knee pain? (5 possible causes) (2023)

A good workout will create a good burn, whether in your muscles or your lungs. You'll know you've trained hard when you feel strained, but nobody wants that burning feeling in their joints. What causes burning pain in the knee area?

Overuse injuries, arthritis, or just plain sore muscles can cause searing pain in the knee area. Sharp, searing pain can bring you to a halt, but it doesn't have to hold you up for long.Once you understand the cause of the burning pain in your knee, you can see the right solution.

What causes sharp burning pain in knee?

Before identifying the cause of sharp burning pain, you need to identify the pain and its location. What does burning pain in the knee mean?

It means your pain isn't just general pain. You have a sharp, burning sensation in the front, side, or back of your knee. You can have it while kneeling, while just standing still and even while sleeping.

1. Burning pain in knee when kneeling

Many people immediately believe they have itKnee arthrosisif you feel pain when kneeling. However, a sharp burning pain in the knee area when kneeling does not mean that you have to put up with painful arthritis for life.

Sharp, burning pain in your knee could just mean you have sore muscles.

Imagine the anatomy of your knee. The hamstring muscles and lower leg muscles are both attached to your patella or kneecap with tendons.

When you strain your muscles, they fill up with lactic acid, giving them that painful post-workout tightness. Tense muscles will not stretch. So when you try to bend your knee and the muscles don't respond with the right stretch, you may feel a burning sensation in your knees.

2. Burning pain in kneecap

If you experience pain in your kneecap, imagine the worst. You start to think you hurt your knee. You might even wonder if you have onetorn meniscus.

Burning pain under or around your kneecap is a common overuse injury. The official diagnosis for this syndrome is chondromalacia or patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as PFS The injury is also commonly referred to as runner's knee.

When you run, you put stress on your kneecap and the tendons it contains. If you are not used to running long miles and you try a long run, you will feel this pain. You'll also feel it if you start increasing your mileage too quickly.

Your tendons in your kneecap fire and become inflamed. You have tendonitis in your knee or runner's knee.

(Video) 3 Worrying Causes For Burning Knee Pain & How To Treat Them

Stopping activity will help this heal faster, as will ice and appropriate NSAIDs or anti-inflammatory drugs.

3. Burning pain in the back of the knee

Pain behind your knee can have a variety of causes. You may have an overuse injury similar to the cause of runner's knee.

You could also have something more serious, like a torn ligament. If you tear a ligament or cartilage, you will most likely experience pain no matter what you do, even if you stop the activity. You will also experience swelling soon after your knee injury.

You could also have a baker's cyst. ABaker's cystis a buildup of fluid in the bursa behind your knee. You may be in pain, or you may just have swelling.

The burning pain behind your knee might be your only symptom. Best of all, a Baker's cyst is not a debilitating diagnosis. You can drain the fluid and then return to normal activities.

If you suspect a cartilage or ligament tear, start with itcold therapy. This could involve a cuff with an ice pack slipped over your knee and left on each knee for fifteen minutes at a time.

4. Burning pain on side of knee

Any kind of knee injury or pain causes alarm. When you experience pain in the side of your knee, you often don't have a knee problem at all.

Your knee is a complicated joint where two major bones and muscle groups meet. When one of these two muscle groups is injured, the knee hurts. The muscles stabilize this joint, so an affected muscle also affects the joint.

Your IT band, or iliotibial band, is a band of connective tissue that runs from your hip to your knee and shin. When the band is stretched from exercise, it rubs against your thigh bone, causing friction and pain up to the knee.

Sometimes you can feel the pain from your hip to your knee. Sometimes you only feel pain on the side of your knee.

IT-Band-Syndromor ITBS is a common problem in people who don't stretch before exercise or who do too much too soon. For example, if you've never ridden a bike more than five miles and try to ride fifty miles in a day, you may end up with a sore IT band and the outside of your knee burning.

5. Burning pain when sitting still

Some people experience more pain at night than during the day.

(Video) Burning in Knees: Causes and Treatments

You might feel more pain if you sit still. Some of us are just too busy to monitor pain. We need a paralyzing pain to tell us to slow down and be still.

So when you sit down and take a break, don't be surprised if the little pains start visiting you.

Your knee pains at night may also stem from reduced hormone signals. When you rest, your hormone signals are reduced. These reduced hormone signals give way to pain signals to reach the brain.

So you will feel pain when you try to nod off.

Your blood vessels can also be the culprit for nighttime pain. If you sleep,Your blood vessels enlargeIn diameter. This is a natural process that allows more blood to reach the muscles and allow them to heal.

However, these dilating blood vessels can put pressure on your nerves. This will cause pain like knee pain even when you are trying to sleep.

How to treat a burning knee

Now that you understand the various causes of a burning knee, you can determine the best course of action to treat it. The treatment depends entirely on the cause of the pain.

Torn tissue

Knee pain can result from a significant injury, such as a torn ligament or cartilage. In the case of tissue tears, you have a number of options.

If you have partially rotated a ligament, a doctor may prescribe physical therapy with muscle-strengthening exercises. He might also recommend you buy a knee brace to protect your knee while you keep exercising. A doctor will also most likely limit your activity and ask you to stop activities that could cause further harm.

In the event of a complete torn ligament in the knee, there is only one option left: surgery. Only a surgeon's technique can restore your knee to full function after you blow it out completely.

If you tear knee cartilage, you will receive treatment similar to that for a knee ligament tear. So your door can give you muscle strengthening exercises either through physical therapy or just a home exercise program.

For a partial cartilage tear, a doctor may also prescribe NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Doctors also treat cartilage tears with steroid injections such ascortisone shots.

(Video) Inner knee pain: Why does the inside of my knee hurt? [5 Common Causes]

If you've torn your cartilage significantly, you may need surgery.

A trained knee specialist will show you a few different options.

  1. Osteochondrale Autotransplantattransplantation oder OATS: In this procedure, a doctor removes undamaged cartilage from a non-weight bearing part of your body and moves it to your damaged knee.
  2. Knee Debridement: If you have loose pieces of cartilage, a doctor will remove the loose pieces and flush the joint with saline or a lavage.
  3. knee chondroplasty: If you have cartilage damage, a doctor can perform knee chondroplasty, which flattens the cartilage and reduces joint friction.
  4. Autologous chondrocyte implantation: This method is the most complicated of the four methods. In this case, a doctor removes the cartilage and sends it to the laboratory for growth. The doctor then puts the cultivated cartilage back into your knee, where it then grows into a healthy replacement cartilage.

osteoarthritis in the knee

Pain doesn't necessarily mean you have arthritis. However, arthritis means you are in pain. Arthritis is one of the most common reasons for having knee pain10 percent of menand 13 percent of women suffer from it.

Your first reaction to knee arthritis is simple: over-the-counter pain relievers like the acetametaphin found in Tylenol or the ibuprofen found in Advil or Motrin IB. Naproxen sodium like what you'll find in Aleve also works well.

Cortisone shots are also a popular and quick fix for knee pain caused by arthritis. Physical and occupational therapy are also finding their way into more natural treatments for arthritis.

A healthy lifestyle is one of your best strategies for counteracting the searing pain that osteoarthritis knees can cause. Arthritis is often due to obesity. So, as you get your weight under control, you will find that your pain lessens.

If arthritis persists over the years, you may need a knee replacement.

runner knee

Runner's knee, or chondromalacia, occurs when the cartilage under your kneecap deteriorates. Start treating runner's knee with ice first if you experience pain during exercise. Then use an over-the-counter medication to counteract the pain relief and reduce inflammation.

Runner's knee will settle down if you give your knee a rest. That means no more weight-bearing exercises that put pressure on the joints. Also avoid kneeling or squatting.

If you have a severe case of runner's knee, you may need to stabilize your knee with the right brace that keeps the patella in line. A patella tracking sleeve is a great option that will help with runner's knee.

If the cartilage damage is severe, your doctor may recommend an arthroscopic procedure, where they go in and cut off flaps of cartilage.

hamstring inflammation

Tendonitis of the knee, or patellar tendinitis, commonly occurs when the tendon in your kneecap flares up. You'll see this when you train hard after a long period of rest.


Patellar tendon syndrome is a treatable condition. You should start with the basics of rest and ice. Take a few days off to let the tendons settle down and cool the knee to reduce your swelling.

Use pain relievers like over-the-counter pain relievers.

Then start building the muscles around your knee. The stronger these muscles are, the more stable your knee becomes. Focus on strengthening your hamstrings, shins, thighs, and calves.

Also, take time to stretch your leg. Jointed muscles surrounding your knee put less strain on the tendons and ligaments that connect your muscles to your knee joint.

If these natural treatments don't work, your doctor might recommend a more invasive treatment, such as an oscillating needle procedure or platelet-rich plasma injection.


Iliotibial Band Syndrome, or ITBS, is a distressing, annoying injury. It can manifest in your hip, the side of your thigh, or just the side of your knee where the ligament pulls.

Runners often experience ISBS. When they feel that burning knee pain, they know exactly what's going on.

To treat ITBS, you must first and foremoststop running.

However, this does not mean that a runner should stop moving. Runners should take a break from running and go to the pool for a swim or aqua jog. They can also dust off their bike and bike helmet and start cycling.

Runners with ITBS need to invest in a small but painful tool, the foam roller. A foam roller is a cylinder of dense foam. Runners suffering from ITBS can use the cylinder as a tool to painfully massage out the tight IT band.

Runners should also focus on strengthening their hips, quads and general core to compensate for the weak IT band.

Burn fat, not knees

Burning knee pain doesn't mean you're burning fat. It can signal a serious knee problem and need some support.

(Video) Knee Arthritis- 5 Most Common Signs You Have It!

A simple knee brace can be part of this solution.

Check out our widthSelection of knee bandages.


What causes severe burning pain in knee? ›

Arthritis — Arthritis is a disease that causes damage to the cartilage in your joints. It comes in many forms, but the two that most commonly affect the knees are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis pain can be described as burning.

What causes a burning sensation on the inside of the knee? ›

What could cause burning in your knee? Burning of the knee is a common symptom of runners' knees, which is caused by overuse injury of the knee. This condition is also known as Chornromalacia or Patellofemoral pain syndrome. It may also be associated with tendonitis, specifically affecting the Patellar tendons.

What kind of arthritis causes burning pain? ›


It may progress to a burning sensation in some cases—this is called carpal tunnel syndrome. Another common sign is a squeaking or crackling noise from the hands or feet. Inflammation is a big part of RA, and it is often mild early on.

Can arthritis feel like a burning pain? ›

In general, the first sign of arthritis is pain, also called arthralgia. This can feel like a dull ache or a burning sensation. Often, pain starts after you've used the joint a lot, for example, if you've been gardening or if you just walked up a flight of stairs.

What is burning pain associated with? ›

Burning pain is most often due to damaged nerves, or neuropathy. Chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, Lyme disease, HIV, kidney disease, and alcoholism can cause long-term neuropathy. Other possible causes of nerve damage, or neuropathy, include: Bulging or herniated disc.

What diseases cause burning pain? ›

It's caused by many different conditions and infections, which can include:
  • shingles.
  • diabetes.
  • multiple sclerosis.
  • nerve compression.
  • medication side effects.
  • trauma.
  • kidney disease.

Can a torn meniscus cause a burning sensation? ›

Burning pain in the knee is usually a symptom of an underlying condition. A few conditions that may be behind your pain include: Meniscus tears — A meniscus tear is an injury to your knee's cartilage.

Does osteoarthritis cause burning pain? ›

Osteoarthritis has no cure, but you can treat its symptoms. The main symptom is acute pain, causing loss of ability and often stiffness. "Pain" is generally described as a sharp ache, or a burning sensation in the associate muscles and tendons.

How do I stop the burning from arthritis? ›

What to do. Over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) can help relieve occasional pain triggered by activity your muscles and joints aren't used to — such as gardening after a winter indoors.

How do you get rid of burning pain in your knee? ›

applying heat or ice to the knee joint to reduce inflammation. using physical therapy exercises to strengthen the muscles around the joint and improve flexibility. taking over-the-counter pain relief medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen.

Does knee bursitis feel like burning? ›

Knee Bursitis

These are tiny fluid-filled pockets between bones and soft tissues that reduce friction and ensure smooth movement. Our knee has about 15 bursae present nearby. Inflammation or swelling of any of these bursae is called knee bursitis, one common cause of burning knee pain.

What are the symptoms of bursitis in the knee? ›

In general, the affected portion of your knee might feel warm, tender and swollen when you put pressure on it. You might also feel pain when you move or even at rest. A sharp blow to the knee can cause symptoms to appear rapidly.

What are 3 signs of a meniscus tear in the knee? ›

A popping sensation. Swelling or stiffness. Pain, especially when twisting or rotating your knee. Difficulty straightening your knee fully.

What are three signs symptoms of a meniscus tear? ›

Symptoms and signs of a meniscus tear:
  • A popping sensation when the injury occurs.
  • Swelling or stiffness.
  • Pain, especially when twisting or rotating the knee.
  • Difficulty fully straightening the knee.
  • "Locked" feeling when trying to move the knee.

Why is the outside of my knee burning? ›

If the burning sensation is on the sides of the knee, it is likely Iliotibial Band Syndrome. The IT band runs down the outside of the leg. When it becomes inflamed it may cause a burning knee sensation. ITBS is often found in athletes and runners.

Does Baker's cyst cause burning pain? ›

In rare cases, a Baker cyst may cause complications. The cyst may enlarge, which may cause redness and swelling. The cyst may also rupture, causing warmth, redness, and pain in your calf.

Why does my knee burn and feel numb? ›

Numbness and tingling are common signs of damage to a peripheral nerve. Problems with the large femoral nerve can cause sensory changes in the knee, including both numbness and tingling. Damage to the femoral nerve or its branches can be caused by compression, diabetes, injury, or arthritis.

What are three signs symptoms of knee tendonitis and bursitis? ›

Symptoms of bursitis and tendinitis include redness, swelling, tenderness, and pain in the affected part of the body. The skin around the affected area may be warm to the touch. Often, symptoms are more noticeable during and after physical activity and worsen over time.

What is gout in the knee? ›

Gout is a type of arthritis in which small crystals form inside and around the joints. It causes sudden attacks of severe pain and swelling.

What can be mistaken for knee bursitis? ›

The most common symptoms of bursitis include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and tenderness; because these symptoms are also common to arthritis, bursitis is often mistaken for arthritis.

Does knee bursitis show up on xray? ›

X-ray images can't positively establish the diagnosis of bursitis, but they can help to exclude other causes of your discomfort. Ultrasound or MRI might be used if your bursitis can't easily be diagnosed by a physical exam alone.


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