About Knee & Ankle Pain

According to the textbook "Sports Medicine A Comprehensive Approach" knee injuries are one of the most often injured joints in the body during sport activities. In children doctors often see ankle sprains as a result of rough play and other contact sports. Knee and ankle pain can severely affect your ability to walk comfortably and therefore can have an effect on your mobility and quality of life.

Knee and ankle pain are common in everyday life and can be caused by a variety of sources. When determining the cause of the pain it is important to know the anatomy of the area and some common causes of pain and dysfunction.

Anatomy of the Knee and Ankle

The knee and ankle joints are the two major joints in the lower extremity. The lower extremity consists of the leg (femur), the knee joint, patella, the lower leg (tibia and fibula), the ankle joint, and the many bones of the foot. The knee and ankle joints are surrounded by cartilage, strong ligaments, and stabilizing muscles.

The ankle and knee joints are responsible for providing movement, support, and stability in the lower extremity. Damage or injury in one area of the lower extremity can influence other areas and result in pain or dysfunction. These joints are largely unprotected and therefore susceptible to injury.


According to the Mayo Clinic, pain in both the knee and ankle joints is common and the pain can occur in people of all ages.

Pain in the knee and ankle joints occurs with damage to cartilage, ligaments, muscles, or bone, and can be affected by arthritis, altered posture, improper bio-mechanics, and injury or direct trauma. Pain can also be referred from areas elsewhere in the body including the low back, pelvis, or other areas of the lower extremity. The most common causes of knee and ankle pain include soft tissue injuries, bio-mechanical dysfunction, and arthritis.

Examples of Knee and Ankle injuries

In the text "Sports Medicine A Comprehensive Approach" several types of knee and ankle injuries are described. Some examples of the various types of injury are listed below.

Soft tissue injuries including ligament tears, meniscus (cartilage tears), sprains and strains, bursitis, and tendinitis.

Bio-mechanical dysfunction including altered foot mechanics, degenerative changes in the joint space, fracture, muscular imbalance or tightness (Iliotibial band syndrome) or changes in posture and gait related to pain elsewhere in the body resulting in altered mechanics.

Arthritis including the most common form osteoarthritis,rheumatoid arthritis, gout, pseudo-gout, or infection.

Other including Osgood-Schlatter disease, osteochondritis dissecans, or chondromalacia patellae also known as patellofemoral syndrome.


Pain in the ankle or knee can cause problems elsewhere in the body. This can result from trying to walk a certain way to avoid pain or from being immobile (sitting) for too long. If the knee or ankle pain resulted after an injury and significant swelling is present it is a good idea to have it checked by a doctor.


The anatomy and physiology of the knee and ankle joints is complex and depending on the cause of the knee or ankle pain treatment types will vary. Some common forms of treatment include rest, ice, physical therapy, chiropractic, medications, and surgery.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Load Comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.