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How To Diagnose Knee Problems

What Are Knee Pain Symptoms And Signs

How to Diagnose and Rehab a Knee Injury | Sports Injury Clinic

Below is a list of some of the more common causes of knee pain. This is not an all-inclusive list but rather highlights a few common causes of knee pain in each of the above categories.

Acute knee injuries

Fractures: A direct blow to the bony structure can cause one of the bones in the knee to break. This is usually a very obvious and painful knee injury. Most knee fractures are not only painful but will also interfere with the proper functioning of the knee or make it very painful to bear weight . All fractures need immediate medical attention. Many fractures require significant force, and a thorough examination is performed to detect other injuries.

Ligament injuries: The most common injury is the ACL injury. An ACL injury is often a sports-related injury due to a sudden stop and change in directions. The remaining ligaments are injured less frequently.

Meniscus injuries: The menisci are made of cartilage and act as shock absorbers between bones in the knee. Twisting the knee can injure the meniscus.

Dislocation: The knee joint can be dislocated, which is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Knee dislocation can compromise blood flow to the leg and have other related problems. This injury often occurs during a motor-vehicle accident when the knee hits the dashboard.

What Is Knee Pain

Pain is a common knee problem that can originate in any of the bony structures compromising the knee joint , the kneecap , or the ligaments, tendons, and cartilage of the knee. Knee pain can be aggravated by physical activity, as well as obesity, affected by the surrounding muscles and their movements, and be triggered by other problems . Knee pain can affect people of all ages, and home remedies can be helpful unless it becomes severe.

What Are The Most Common Knee Problems

Most people encounter knee problems at some point or another. Some individuals develop such problems at an early age, while others may experience them as a result of aging. Injury is one of the most common causes of knee problems. Conditions affecting the joints, such as arthritis and tendinitis, can also be contributing factors. One of the most common reasons for visiting an orthopedic doctor is due to problems with the knees.

Knee problems commonly result from an injury. The injury can occur due to an automobile accident or direct physical trauma to the knee while playing sports or participating in some other form of physical activity. Sometimes, a normal course of walking that may result in a sudden turn or twisting of the knee can cause an injury. A bone fracture and damage to ligaments and muscles of the knee can be caused by a knee injury.

A bruise may be the first indication of a hurt knee. The knee may be scarred and discolored directly after an injury. In addition to pain, knee swelling may also be present. A hard fall on the knee can cause bruising. Typically, after this type of injury, elevation, icing the knee, and resting it may be all the treatment needed. Most of the times, it will be important to refrain from placing too much pressure on the knee until the bruising and any pain subsides.

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Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries

The anterior cruciate ligament is often injured during sports activities. Athletes who participate in high demand sports like soccer, football, and basketball are more likely to injure their anterior cruciate ligaments. Changing direction rapidly or landing from a jump incorrectly can tear the ACL. About half of all injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament occur along with damage to other structures in the knee, such as articular cartilage, meniscus, or other ligaments.

Learn more about ACL injuries:

What Is The Prognosis For A Knee Injury

Pin on Knee Treatment

The goal for treating knee injuries is to return the patient to their previous level of activity. The prognosis for an individual injury depends upon the type of injury, the underlying health of the patient, and their willingness to work with their care provider and therapist to maximize their outcome.

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Causes Of Loosened Knee Replacements

Friction caused by the joint surfaces wearing away the implant surface.

Bacterial infection on the metal or plastic pieces.

The soft tissue that surrounds the knee is not strong enough to support walking or even standing.

The implants have been incorrectly placed.

Dr. Bouchers specialties are hip and knee surgery, replacement and revision, and sports medicine surgery. He has been the recipient of the Golden Apple Award for teaching excellence multiple times.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. Shes also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.

Why Does My Knee Hurt

If you are experiencing knee pain when walking, knee pain when bending, knee pain when resting, or are hearing popping/clicking in your knee, etc., it may be a minor concern or indicator of a serious issue.

Knee pain is usually caused by traumatic injuries, repetitive motion injuries, long-term wear & tear, or tissue disorders. Below are injuries that are common causes for knee pain, but it is best to enter your symptoms into our Knee Pain Diagnosis Symptom Checker to gain a better understanding of your injury.

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Muscle Tendon Injuries Mcl And Lcl Injuries Acl Injuries And Meniscus Tears

Muscle Tendon Injuries

Almost all of these strains are treated with ice, elevation, and rest. Sometimes compression with an Ace wrap or knee sleeve is recommended, and crutches may be used for a short time to assist with walking. Ibuprofen or naproxen can be used as an anti-inflammatory medication.

The mechanism of injury is either hyperextension, in which the hamstring muscles can be stretched or torn, or hyperflexion, in which the quadriceps muscle is injured. Uncommonly, with a hyperflexion injury, the patellar or quadriceps tendon can be damaged and rupture. This injury is characterized by the inability to extend or straighten the knee and a defect that can be felt either above or below the patella . Surgery is usually required to repair this injury.

Except for elite athletes, tears of the hamstring muscle are treated conservatively without an operation, allowing time, exercise, and perhaps physical therapy to return the muscle to normal function.

MCL and LCL Injuries

ACL Injuries

Meniscus Tears

Upper Iliotibial Band Stretch

Diagnose Your Knee Pain

Standing upright, cross your bad leg behind your good one, making sure you keep it locked straight.

Then, without bending forwards, gently lean sideways from the waist over to the good side.

You can support yourself against a wall by leaning away from it. You should feel this stretch over the outside of the hip and upper thigh.

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Why Does My Ankle Hurt

If you are experiencing ankle pain or swelling from a recent injury, ankle pain while walking or running, or ankle pain while resting, etc., it may be a minor concern or indicator of a serious issue.

Ankle pain is usually caused by traumatic injuries, repetitive motion injuries, long-term wear & tear, or tissue disorders. Below are injuries that are common causes for ankle pain, but it is best to enter your symptoms into our Ankle Pain Diagnosis Symptom Checker to gain a better understanding of your injury and read Dr. Stone’s blog article on ankle pain and when you should consider surgery.

Exercises You Can Do To Prevent Knee Surgery

Avoid serious knee problems by making your knees stronger with easy home exercises. Try these three targeted exercises:

  • Sit and stand: Sit upright on a sturdy chair. Squeeze a small ball between your knees so you can feel the muscles working inside your knees and thighs. While squeezing, stand up slowly. Slowly sit back down. Do two sets of 10 squeezes.
  • Step-ups: Stand sideways in front of a staircase. Hold on to the wall or banister. Put the leg closest to the stairs on the first step. Straighten the leg on the step to slightly lift your other leg. Bend the leg on the step slightly to lower your other leg. Do this leg bend 10 times and switch legs.
  • Squats: Correctly doing squats builds leg and hip strength. Stand with your back against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart. While your back is flat against the wall, slide down to a semi-sitting position. Hold the squat for 10 seconds and push back up using your thigh muscles. Dont squat too low.

Gentle cycling strengthens the muscles that support your knee, too. Cycling can be an ideal activity that puts little pressure on your knee joints.

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There Is A Gold Standard For The Identification And Diagnosis Of A Failed Or Loosened Knee Replacement

The hardware can fail due to unknown factors in some cases. In other words, when a failure occurs with a total knee replacement, its not necessarily surgeon error at play.

And when the hardware begins loosening up, the patient starts to experience pain in the knee. The pain could be pretty bad, too.

What About A Marcaine Injection To Diagnose A Failed Knee Replacement Surgery

Pin on Knee Treatment

The injection is best to determine if the knee is the actual cause of pain, says Dr. Boucher.

Pain in the joint may actually originate from elsewhere in the body. The Marcaine injection can rule out referred pain from another location, but it does not give the exact diagnosis, says Dr. Boucher.

An arthogram can look for any loosening or instability in the knee joint.

A bone scan may also be used to look for tell-tale signs of a failed knee replacement, but Dr. Boucher adds that a bone scan is not always reliable, and is open to conflicting interpretation by doctors.

While one surgeon sees no problem with the hardware as viewed on the bone scan imageanother surgeon may identify a loosening.

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Why Is Diagnosis So Important

The most common reason for knee pain to recur is failure to treat the underlying cause of a problem, usually due to an inaccurate diagnosis.

For example, let’s say your knee is swollen. You can treat the swelling with ice, compression bandages, elevation and exercises and the swelling will most likely start to improve. But chances are, your knee problems will come back again unless you have identified what caused the swelling in the first place and also treated that.

How Do You Know If You Need Knee Surgery

Even if youve done all you can do to relieve your knee pain, your doctor wont recommend knee surgery lightly. You need to have X-rays and an imaging test called an MRI to determine if your knee bones or soft tissues are damaged. You may have to have a blood test to rule out other causes for pain. There are two types of knee surgery:

  • Arthroscopic knee procedures: This surgery repairs knee problems that arent as severe. A surgeon uses a small camera and small tools to do surgery through tiny incisions.
  • Knee replacement surgery: You may have this surgery when you have osteoarthritis and your knee joint is severely worn out. A surgeon replaces some of the surfaces in your knee with artificial ones.

As with many conditions, catching your knee deterioration early can help prevent further damage. If you think you may need to see a specialist, visit to find a caring, compassionate physician who can help.

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F Pain Below The Knee

Patellar Tendonitis: Most common. Damage to the patellar tendon, thickening of the tendon, pain worse with repetitive activities e.g. jumping. LEARN MORE>

Osgood Schlatters Disease: Affects adolescents and children typically after a growth spurt. Pain is felt at the top of the shin bone and there is often a hard bony lump. LEARN MORE>

Osteochondritis Dissecans: Decreased blood flow to the knee bones leads to degeneration, thinning and tearing of the knee bones and cartilage. Most common between the ages of 10-20. LEARN MORE>

Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Disease: Affects adolescents and children. Pain similar to OSD but slightly higher, just below the kneecap.

Symptoms: How To Tell If Your Dog Is Experiencing Knee Problems

When To Diagnose Your Own Knee Pain

Just ask your dog!

Dont we wish.

We have all faced the challenge of trying to tell if our pup is in pain and wanted more than anything for a bark or whimper translator. Of course, that could also have its downfalls if all you get is: Squirrel! Park! Treat!

Fortunately, there are telltale signs and symptoms of dog knee problems including:

  • Intermittent limping
  • Sudden intermittent loss of support in the rear legs
  • Sitting in an abnormal position
  • Not bearing weight on a hind leg
  • Lameness
  • Trouble rising from a sitting position or lying position
  • Suddenly less active
  • Constant licking
  • Swelling or thickening of the knee

While some dog knee problems are minor and will heal naturally, watch your pup carefully if he or she exhibits any of the above symptoms. If they last, seek the guidance of a veterinarian to diagnose the problem and discuss treatment options.

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What Are Knee Injury Symptoms And Signs

Acute knee injuries can cause pain and swelling with difficulty bending the knee and weight-bearing. Acute knee injuries often may be considered as falling into two groups: those where there is almost immediate swelling in the joint associated with the inability to bend the knee and bear weight, and those in which there is discomfort and perhaps localized pain to one side of the knee, but with minimal swelling and minimal effects on walking.

If the swelling occurs immediately, it may suggest a ligament tear or fracture. If the swelling arises over a period of many hours, meniscal or cartilage injuries may be the cause. However, injuries to the knee may involve more than one structure and the symptoms may not present classically.

Longer-term symptoms that point to knee problems will include pain and swelling in addition to other complaints. Inflammation in the joint may be caused by even minor activity. Swelling may be intermittent, brought on by activity, and may gradually resolve as the inflammation decreases.

Pain, too, may come and go. It may not occur right away with activity but might be delayed as the inflammation develops. Pain can also be felt with specific activities. Pain while climbing stairs is a symptom of meniscus injury, where the cartilage is being pinched in the joint as the joint space narrows with knee bending. Pain with walking down stairs suggests patellar pain, where the kneecap is being forced onto the femur.

Will Surgery Treat And Cure Knee Pain


Knee operations range from arthroscopic knee surgery to total knee replacement. Arthroscopic knee surgery is a very common surgical procedure that allows the physician look inside your knee through a few small holes and a fiberoptic camera. The surgeon can repair many of the injuries and remove small pieces of loose bones or cartilage. This is a common outpatient procedure.

Partial knee replacement: The surgeon replaces the damaged portions of the knee with plastic and metal parts. Because only part of the knee joint is replaced, this procedure has a shorter recovery then a total knee replacement.

Total knee replacement: In this procedure, the knee is replaced with an artificial joint.

Other therapies

Acupuncture has shown some relieve of knee pain, especially in patients with osteoarthritis. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements have shown mixed results in research studies.

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What Are Risk Factors For Knee Injuries

Accidents happen, and injuries occur on the football field, on the basketball court, on the soccer pitch, and in daily life. Often knee injuries cannot be prevented. Maintaining a healthy weight, keeping fit, staying strong, and stretching may be helpful in minimizing the risk of many injuries, including those that involve the knee.

Imbalances of muscles that surround and support the knee can lead to knee injuries. If either the quadriceps or hamstring muscle groups become weak, the stability of the knee and ability to withstand an injury is decreased.

Similarly, an imbalance between muscles within the quadriceps muscles of the thigh may cause the kneecap to track improperly, causing patellofemoral syndrome or increasing the risk of patellar dislocation.

Pregnant women are at higher risk for knee injury and pain because of increased weight, the body’s shifted center of gravity, and hormonal changes that can weaken ligaments and make them more lax.

The knee joint absorbs a significant amount of the force that is generated with each step with walking or running. People who are significantly overweight may develop knee pain because of the excess weight that needs to be supported.

Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries

Knee Pain Diagnosis Chart

The posterior cruciate ligament is often injured from a blow to the front of the knee while the knee is bent. This often occurs in motor vehicle crashes and sports-related contact. Posterior cruciate ligament tears tend to be partial tears with the potential to heal on their own.

Learn more about PCL injuries:

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When Should I See A Pain Management Specialist

You should consult with a pain management specialist if your acute knee pain seems to be transitioning into chronic pain. Generally, this is when the pain lasts longer than 90 days, but it could be sooner. Pain that lasts longer than expected for the condition you have is a warning sign that the pain is becoming chronic.

Pain management specialists can provide diagnosis and treatment on their own or in consultation with other health care providers. These may include your primary care physician, orthopedist, rheumatologist, or physical therapist.

Orthopedists treat problems related to bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Rheumatologists specialize in the nonsurgical treatment of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. Physical therapists use exercises and stretches, movement training, medical massage, and other hands-on techniques to help patients increase mobility, ease pain, and protect against further injury.


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