If you didn't have a knee injury, your knee pain is probably caused by degeneration.
This includes things like arthritis and meniscus tears. Knee degeneration is often seen in older people or in younger people with high miles.
Should I Get an X-ray or MRI?
No. By age 50 many people have knee degeneration but most don't have knee pain. It is no surprise that a 50 year old with sore knees is going to have some degeneration on an X-ray or MRI. So they are not routinely done.
Can't Surgery Fix My Degenerative Knee Pain?
No. Studies in 2002 and 2008 found that results for people with had "fake knee surgery" (just skin incisions) were no different that results for people who had arthritis clean-up surgery. A 2013 study found people with degenerative cartilage tears showed the same level of relief with only PT as those that had surgery plus PT.
What Can I Do On My Own?
Keep your thigh muscles strong and in shape. They act like shock absorbers keeping pressure off of your knees. If your muscles are weak or they get tired, you end up with extra force on the joint and pain. The simplest exercises you can do for your thigh are 4-way straight leg raises (click to link to our YouTube playlist of these exercises).
What If It Still Hurts?
It's time to come in for an evaluation by a physical therapist. You probably need different stretching and strengthening exercises. When your knee hurts, your body adapts by changing the way you move and you lose flexibility. The stiffness causes uneven force on parts of your knee joint causing pain.
We may also help you with your knee pain using hands on joint and tissue stretching called manual therapy and will teach you how to do this yourself at home.