What Causes Burning Knee Pain After Exercise?

Knee pain is one of the most common reasons for a doctor's visit, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Many individuals experience a burning knee pain as the result of exercise. This burning knee pain can be attributed to a number of conditions including bursitis, patello-femoral syndrome, osteoarthritis and tendinitis. Always consult your doctor if you experience a burning knee pain after exercise.

Knee burning requires medical attention.
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Knee bursitis is the inflammation of the small fluid-filled sack known as your bursa. Your bursa is located near your knee joint and aids in reducing friction and tension in the muscles, bones and tendons surrounding your knee joint. Symptoms of bursitis include burning, pain, tenderness, swelling and being warm to the touch. Bursitis symptoms will continue to worsen as you exercise and after repetitive use of your knee. Knee bursitis is diagnosed through a physical exam and imaging tests to help rule out any other knee conditions. Your doctor may also collect a sample of fluid from your knee for testing. Injections, physical therapy, aspiration or antibiotics are the common treatments for knee bursitis.

Patello-Femoral Syndrome

Patello-femoral syndrome is another condition associated with knee burning, especially following exercise. Patello-femoral syndrome occurs when the patella pushes up on the sides of your knees. This condition is made worse by increased physical activity and is often the result of muscle tightness or weakness, poor conditioning or bio-mechanical abnormalities -- including overpronation or knock knees. Pain and burning is generally felt in the front portion of your knee but may also occur on the inside or outside portions of your knee. A diagnosis is made through a physical exam and imaging tests. Treatment involves rest, icing and anti-inflammatory medications. You can also tape or use a knee brace to help correct abnormal knee positioning. Stretching your legs is also beneficial in healing and preventing patello-femoral syndrome.


Osteoarthritis is the gradual deterioration of the cartilage inside your knee joint. As the condition progresses, your cartilage can become completely worn away, leaving bone rubbing on bone. This condition generally affects middle-aged and older adults. Osteoarthritis can lead to pain and burning in your knee joint while you're engaging in physical activity or doing daily tasks. This condition is diagnosed with a physical exam and x-ray ordered by your doctor. Treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee can include anti-inflammatory medications, activity modification, knee bracing, physical therapy or, as a last resort, surgery.


Patellar -- or knee -- tendinitis is an injury to your knee that affects the tendons that connect your knee to your shinbone. Tendinitis is common in athletes whose sports require frequent running and jumping. Pain and burning are likely to occur during exercise and sports. While resting, your symptoms may subside completely or you may be left with a dull ache. Your doctor will complete a physical exam and order imaging tests to rule out any other knee conditions prior to making a diagnosis of patellar tendinitis. Tendinitis is most commonly treated with rest as well as stretching and strengthening the tendons in your knee. Corticosteroid injections, a knee brace or topical medication may also be beneficial in treating this condition.

Is This an Emergency?

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