Facts You Should Know About Knee Pain
- Knee pain is a common problem with many causes, from acute injuries to complications of medical conditions.
- Knee pain can be localized to a specific area of the knee or be diffuse throughout the knee.
- Knee pain is often accompanied by physical restriction.
- A thorough physical examination will usually establish the diagnosis of knee pain.
- The treatment of knee pain depends on the underlying cause.
- The prognosis of knee pain, even severe knee pain, is usually good although it might require surgery or other interventions.
When To See The Doctor
Sure, its tempting to use an online knee pain symptom checker to try to figure out whats causing your pain. The problem is, because joints are complex, knee pain self-diagnosis is very difficult. Like all your joints, your knees are designed to function without pain or stiffness. No amount of pain or stiffness is normal.If you notice any type of discomfort in or around your knee joint, its always a good idea to schedule an office visit with Dr. Van Thiel.
As a leading orthopedic surgeon in Rockford and Crystal Lake, Dr. Van Thiel uses advanced diagnostic methods to make sure you receive the best, most appropriate care for meaningful pain relief. To find out whats causing your knee pain, call OrthoIllinois at 398-9491 or schedule an appointment online today.
Dr. Van Thiel treats patients from all over Wisconsin and Illinois including Rockford, Elgin, Huntley, Dekalb, Crystal Lake, Barrington, McHenry, Beloit and Algonquin.
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Arthritis Of The Knee
It might be helpful to arrive at your healthcare providers office with a list of questions you want or need to be answered. Consider:
- Do I have arthritis in one knee or both?
- What type of arthritis do I have?
- Whats a possible cause of my arthritis?
- What treatments do you recommend?
- What medications should I take?
- Do I need physical therapy?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Knee arthritis can affect people of all ages. Its painful, impairs movement and causes swelling of the joint. Some people are so disabled by it that they cant work anymore. Others can only work after surgery. Meanwhile, for others, the pain isnt necessarily as bad, but it still prevents them from regular activities like cleaning, gardening and running after their kids.
Arthritis of the knee can decrease your quality of life. The good news is that treatments can lessen the severity of your symptoms. The pain and swelling might not be as bad. See your healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment if you have symptoms.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/18/2021.
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How Does Sciatica Of The Knee Happen
Knee sciatica can have several causes. Prolapsed discs are common culprits for sciatica in the knee. There is a possibility that the material that makes up the vertebral disc can leak out, resulting in pain that can extend down as far as the knee.
Infection, bone disease, spinal stenosis, malignancy, and trauma are just some of the additional causes of sciatica.
Sciatica is characterized by body pain originating in the lumbar spine and spreading to areas along the sciatic nerve path, such as the knee. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may also experience pain in your buttocks, back of your thigh, calves, and feet.
It is essential to consult a professional as soon as you are experiencing symptoms of sciatica of the knee. Several tests might be necessary, including X-rays and MRIs or CT scans.
What Causes Knee Swelling
The knee has a joint capsule, which is like a sac that surrounds the whole joint. The capsule contains synovial fluid which nourishes and lubricates the joint, so that it can move smoothly . The joint capsule acts as container, keeping the fluid within the knee joint.
A swollen knee usually develops when excess fluid builds up inside the capsule and is caused by either:
a)Bleeding in the Joint: aka Haemarthrosis. This is normally caused by an injury and the knee swelling comes on rapidly . The swelling can be intense making the knee feel very tight.
b)An Accumulation of Synovial Fluid: aka knee joint effusion or water on the knee. This type of swollen knee tends to come on gradually and may come and go, varying in degrees of severity.
Knee swelling usually develops in one of four ways:
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Severe Knee Pain & Instability
Severe knee pain is often accompanied by instability. There may be two things going on. Firstly, if the knee gives out completely i.e. collapses when you have weight on it so that you stumble or fall, it is most likely that you have ruptured one of the knee ligaments, such as the ACL.
The ligaments are the main stabilising structures in the knee, so if they rupture the knee will often give way, particularly when you are twisting or turning. Ligament ruptures typically occur during twisting injuries and are often accompanied by an audible pop or cracking noise.
The second possibility is that the body is trying to protect itself from further damage. When you take weight on the injured leg the pain can be so severe that it feels like the knee is going to buckle or give out, but it doesnt actually collapse. This usually means there is damage inside the joint, but it is unlikely to be ligament damage.
If the knee is giving way regularly, it is important to get it looked at by your doctor as each time it gives way, you risk further damage to the knee joint. You can find out lots more in the knee ligament injury section.
Torn Acl Symptoms And Signs
With an acute injury, the patient often describes that they heard a loud pop and then developed intense pain in the knee. The pain makes walking or weight-bearing very difficult. The knee joint will begin to swell within a few hours because of bleeding within the joint, making it difficult to straighten the knee.
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When Going To The Doctor
It is important to consult with the orthopedist or a physiotherapist when:
- The pain lasts longer than 3 days, even after rest and application of icy compresses
- The pain is very intense when doing daily activities such as passing foot clothes, taking the child in the lap, walking or climbing stairs
- The knee does not fold or makes noise when moving around
- The knee finds itself deformed
- Surgery other symptoms like fever or tingling
In these cases, the orthopaedist can ask for an x-ray examination or a magnetic resonance to make the diagnosis of the problem and recommend the proper treatment.
Swollen Knee Pain Occurs When There Is An Increase Of The Fluid On The Knee Joint This Condition Can Strike Anyone Regardless Of Age
Excess fluid on the knee is usually caused by an untreated injury, a hard collision on the knee, or certain diseases. Such inflammation can also cause swollen knee pain.
Although persistent swollen knee or swelling that accompanied by severe pain or disease needs medical attention, mild knee pain can be treated at home.
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Diagnosis And Treatment Of A Swollen Knee
When a person is experiencing a swollen knee, the doctor may either take a sample of the fluid inside the knee, or order X-rays or an MRI to confirm a diagnosis. If its a minor injury, the medical provider may recommend rest, icing, compression, and elevation of the knee .
Depending on the severity, the doctor may also recommend medication, steroid injections, or physical therapy. In extreme cases, a patient may require surgery.
Potential Causes Of Knee Swelling
Whether water on the knee is mildly annoying or painfully debilitating, a person will want to identify the likely cause and treat the symptoms to help reduce the likelihood of future problems. Chronic or long-standing swelling may lead to joint tissue damage, cartilage degradation, and bone softening, therefore treatment is usually recommended.
This article describes 12 conditions that frequently cause knee swelling, also called water on the knee.
1. Injury to the kneeTrauma to the knee’s bones, ligaments, tendons, bursae, meniscus, or articular cartilage can cause pain and swelling. Serious injury can cause blood to flood into the knee joint, leading to significant swelling, warmth, stiffness, and bruising. This condition is called hemarthrosis and warrants urgent medical care.
A patient should also seek medical attention if knee pain is severe, if the affected leg cannot bear weight, or if there is suspicion of a broken bone.
2. Knee osteoarthritisDegeneration of the cartilage of the knee joint can result in an overproduction of joint fluid, causing the knee to swell. A swollen knee due to knee osteoarthritis is typically accompanied by pain.
In fact, evidence suggests people who have severe knee pain from osteoarthritis are more likely to experience knee swelling. One study2 found that:
People should seek medical attention immediately if they think their symptoms may be caused by septic bursitis.
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What Are Risk Factors For Knee Pain
Biomechanics: The knee joint is complicated in its operation and is used frequently throughout the day. Any change in the movement of the joint can cause subtle changes and cause pain and injuries.
Excess weight: The stress on the knee joint is increased with excess weight. Obesity also increases the risk of knee osteoarthritis as the cartilage breaks down more rapidly.
Overuse during repetitive motions as are found during certain exercises or work conditions can cause breakdown of cartilage and lead to pain.
Torn Cartilage Or Ligament
Common types of injuries in this category include tears in the anterior cruciate ligament and the medial collateral ligament that often occur during sports, according to Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. Symptoms of an ACL are a loud popping sound and immediate pain, followed by swelling and knee instability with difficulty walking. Symptoms of an MCL include pain when pressure is put on the ligament and with a complete tear greater pain, swelling and an inability to straighten the leg, Midwest Orthopaedics says.
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Swelling Behind The Knee
Reviewed by: KPE Medical Review Board
There are a number of different causes of swelling behind the knee.
The most common is a Bakers Cyst where there is inflammation of the popliteal bursa at the back of the knee.
Sometimes there is back of knee swelling and pain, other times there is a lump behind the knee but no pain associated with it. It might be that only one knee is swollen, or there may be swelling behind both knees.
Most times when the back of the knee is swollen, it can be treated with a combination of rest, regular ice, compression bandages, exercises and physical therapy, but some case may require knee surgery.
Conditions Associated With Pain Behind The Knee
Two common conditions that cause pain behind the knee are:
- a popliteal cyst, also called Bakers cyst
- posterior cruciate ligament injury
A cyst is a collection of fluid inside a thin layer. A popliteal cyst is a cyst in the shallow depression at the back of the knee. Its often linked to other conditions affecting the knee, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cartilage injuries and inflammation of the knee joint. Many types of injury can cause a collection of fluid. Often it will be a heavy blow to the front of the knee, from falling forwards or playing a contact sport. The natural mechanism of the knee pushes this excess fluid backwards and it collects in the depression at the back of the knee, over time, causing a cyst to form.
A posterior cruciate ligament injury is caused by overstretching or tearing of this ligament, which runs across the knee from the thigh to the shin bone. It often results from a heavy blow to the front of a bent knee, sometimes from falling forwards or during a contact sport, such as rugby. Other typical injuries can occur when the knee hits the dashboard during a car accident or when the leg is over-straightened and the knee is bent backwards. Doctors call this hyperextension.
You can access a range of treatments on a pay as you go basis, including physiotherapy. Find out more about physiotherapy >
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Knee Pain As A Symptom Of Lung Cancer
Both monoarthritis and polyarthritis have been identified as possible signs of lung cancer. Sometimes, these symptoms can be misdiagnosed.
The connection between knee pain and lung cancer can easily be missed because the rate of arthritis problems occurring with lung cancer is very low.
- Arthritis symptoms due to a paraneoplastic syndrome occur in approximately 0.24% of lung cancer patients.
- HPOA incidents among lung cancer patients range from 0.72% to 17%.
- Researches have only reported 48 cases of synovial metastasis, and only a fraction of those incidents are related to knee pain.
If you have lung cancer, your knee pain is more likely to be related to other causes and is rarely a symptom of your lung cancer.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis , your knee pain is likely related to your arthritis. However, you should discuss your risk of lung cancer with your doctor. Those with RA are eight times more likely to develop interstitial lung disease, which puts you at risk for lung cancer.
Brief Anatomy Of The Knee
The knee is a vulnerable joint that bears a great deal of stress from everyday activities, such as lifting and kneeling, and from high-impact activities, such as jogging and aerobics.
The knee is formed by the following parts:
Tibia. This is the shin bone or larger bone of the lower leg.
Femur. This is the thighbone or upper leg bone.
Patella. This is the kneecap.
Each bone end is covered with a layer of cartilage that absorbs shock and protects the knee. Basically, the knee is 2 long leg bones held together by muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
There are 2 groups of muscles involved in the knee, including the quadriceps muscles , which straighten the legs, and the hamstring muscles , which bend the leg at the knee.
Tendons are tough cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones. Ligaments are elastic bands of tissue that connect bone to bone. Some ligaments on the knee provide stability and protection of the joints, while other ligaments limit forward and backward movement of the tibia .
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See The Doctor If You Have:
- An inability to walk comfortably on the affected side
- An injury that causes deformity around the joint
- Knee pain that occurs at night or while resting
- Knee pain that persists beyond a few days
- Locking in the knee
- Swelling of the joint or the calf area
- Signs of an infection, including fever, redness, or warmth
- Any other unusual symptoms
Rapid Knee Swelling After An Injury
A swollen knee that develops immediately after an injury, within minutes, is usually due to haemarthrosis, where blood accumulates in the joint. Essentially what happens is that a structure inside the knee gets damaged and starts to bleed, building up pressure in the joint.
Knee swelling after an injury is normally profuse and the knee balloons up. It will feel tense and very sore and is often accompanied by bruising, although that may take longer to develop.
There are three main injuries that cause a swollen knee from a haemarthrosis:
1. Ligament Tear:Where a knee ligament ruptures . This is the most common cause and usually involves the ACL . Other symptoms include instability and pain Learn More >
2. Meniscus Tear:A tear in the outer rim of the cartilage lining the knee. Associated symptoms include locking and pain on stairs and when squatting Learn More >
3. Bone Fracture: A break in one of the knee bones such as a patellar fracture. In most cases, it will be obvious if you have broken a bone Learn More >
A swollen knee caused by a haemarthrosis like these needs urgent medical attention.
Choose from the links or visit the Knee Injuries section to find out more about these common causes of knee swelling, including symptoms and treatment options.
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What Does It Mean If My Knee Is Swollen
Swelling in the knee, also known as knee effusion or water on the knee, occurs when fluid collects around the knee joint. Swelling can occur due to many different reasons and apply to all ages of patients.
While some reasons for swelling can be treated with over-the-counter medication, persistent and constant swelling can lead to tissue damage, bone softening, and cartilage loss.
The quick answer is when swelling in the knee is accompanied by constant pain and other issues, it is advised to seek medical attention. The following information will include common reasons to explain what does it mean when my knee is swollen. Below are common treatment methods and when it is advised to contact a doctor.
Treatment For A Swelling On Side Of Knee
With those that have a history of osteoarthritis and swelling after strenuous activity, like a workout or run, over-the-counter medications will help alleviate the pain. Patient may also apply compression sleeves to decrease the swelling during and after activity. Another way to decrease swelling at home is to use R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
Knee is swollen from Bursitis
- Rest Rest the joint and refrain from hard workouts, sports, and prolonged activity for 24-48 hours. Normal range of motion should continue to decrease joint stiffening.
REST for the RICE Protocol
- Ice Ice can be applied to the knee 3-4 times a day for 15-20 minutes at a time. Ice should never be applied directly to the skin.
Ice for the RICE Protocol
- Compression An ace bandage, compression sleeve or socks may not only reduce swelling already present, but may limit knee swelling during activity.
Compression Socks for the RICE Protocol
- Elevation Reducing blood flow to the area by sitting with the leg on a stool or lying down with the foot on a pillow, will reduce swelling.
Elevation Above Your Heart for RICE
Image of a swollen knee
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