Burning Sensation in Knee: Why and What to Do

The knee forms a very important joint in the body. The knee joint is compromised of various components like ligaments, tendons, bones, cartilage, etc. A knee injury can be debilitating and affect your day to day activities. Knee injuries can occur in anyone, such as athletes, teenagers and geriatrics. There are various causes of knee injuries with the resulting burning sensation in the knee. Recovery will usually depend on the type and extent of the damage and the steps you take to rehabilitate the injured knee joint.

Possible Causes of Burning Sensation in Knee

A burning sensation in the knee can be caused by an actual burn to the knee area can lead to the burning sensation. The burn can be caused by: chemicals, electricity, heat and sunburn. Certain diseases can trigger the body's inflammatory response, like:

  • Gout occurs when there is a build-up of uric acid in the joint causing pain. Treatment is with medication and avoiding certain foods that cause the uric acid crystals to form in the joint.
  • Osteoarthritis occurs over a period of time. It is the gradual wearing away of cartilage which results in bone rubbing. It generally occurs in older people. Exercise can exacerbate the burning sensation in knee.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks its own tissues and causes joint inflammation.
  • Knee bursitis occurs when there is an inflammation in the fluid-filled sac in the knee joint. Accompanying symptoms may be pain, tenderness and swelling of the knee joint. Treatments may include antibiotics and physical therapy.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis occurs when the vertebrae in the spine become inflamed. The pain caused may present as referred pain in one or both knees.
  • Neurological causes of a burning sensation in the knee can be the result of nerve damage in the legs. This nerve damage in the extremities is termed peripheral neuropathy. The resulting "pins and needles" or burning sensation in the knee is called paraesthesia. Some common causes of paraesthesia are nerve compression or entrapment, diabetes mellitus and alcohol abuse.
  • Insufficient blood supply to the legs due to medical conditions like peripheral artery disease can also cause the burning sensation.

How to Relieve Burning Sensation in Knee

Depending upon the extent of the damage to the knee joint, wearing a knee brace may be sufficient to decrease the burning sensation in the knee. The knee brace will provide support but still allow movement of the joint. Removing the stress on the knee joint may help reduce the inflammation and hence the burning sensation. Other tips to reduce the pain include:

1. RICE Therapy: rest, ice, compression with a knee brace and elevation.

2. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories will reduce the pain and inflammation. Be sure to check that you are not allergic to the product and read the package carefully before taking them.

3. Special physiotherapy exercises to improve your strength of your quadriceps muscle which will improve stability of the knee joint.

  • Sit on a firm surface with your legs outstretched in front of you. Your knees should not be bent. Use your left hand under the knee to support your left knee. Press that knee into the left hand and hold the heel in the air for a few seconds. Repeat with the right knee and right hand, if necessary.
  • Lie on a flat surface with one knee bent. The other leg should be straight and resting on the floor. Slowly raise the straight leg about 20 cm from the ground and hold for a few seconds. Repeat the exercise.

You can watch the video below and learn more exercises to ease the burning sensation in knee.

When to See a Doctor

There are some signs when accompanied with a burning sensation means that you have to seek medical care as soon as possible:

  • You suspect a fracture-you will not be able to place your weight on that knee because of the unbearable pain. This type of injury requires a splint or cast to immobilize the knee joint and allow proper healing
  • You develop a fever; your knee is hot to the touch, swollen and red. This can be an infection and requires a course of prescription antibiotics.
  • If the burning sensation is accompanied by a large wound, seek immediate medical attention. This could be a burn wound or a puncture (bleeding) wound. If this type of injury is not treated properly, it can lead to an infection of the wound.
  • The pain is so severe that it wakes you up from your sleep, or it does not improve with rest and is generally unbearable.
  • If your knee area is swollen and you're on anticoagulant (blood thinners) therapy or have a bleeding disorder. You can be bleeding internally and the blood thinners will impede the natural clotting ability of the blood.

What Do Other People Say About Burning Sensation in Knee?

"I had a burning sensation in both of my knees. I did some searches online and found that a lack of magnesium can cause this symptom. I increased the intake of magnesium in my diet and after 3 weeks, the burning sensation gradually decreased and then disappeared completely."

"I had a burning feeling in my knee, too. I went to see my doctor and was diagnosed with an infection in the fluid of the knee joint. Preliminary treatment included draining some of the fluid and a hydrocortisone injection to decrease the inflammation. I was then referred to a rheumatoid arthritis specialist."

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