How Are Knee Problems Diagnosed
In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, other tests for knee problems may include:
X-ray. This test uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to make images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
Magnetic resonance imaging . This test uses large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and structures within the body can often determine damage or disease in a surrounding ligament or muscle.
Computed tomography scan . This test uses X-rays and computer technology to make horizontal, or axial, images of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.
Arthroscopy. A minimally-invasive diagnostic and treatment procedure used for conditions of a joint. This procedure uses a small, lighted, optic tube , which is inserted into the joint through a small incision in the joint. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a screen used to evaluate any degenerative or arthritic changes in the joint to detect bone diseases and tumors to determine the cause of bone pain and inflammation.
Radionuclide bone scan. A nuclear imaging technique that uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into the patient’s bloodstream to be detected by a scanner. This test shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity within the bone.
What Is A Meniscus Tear
A meniscus tear is a common knee injury. The meniscus is a rubbery, C-shaped disc that cushions your knee. Each knee has two menisci one at the outer edge of the knee and one at the inner edge. They keep your knee steady by balancing your weight across the knee. A torn meniscus can prevent your knee from working right.
What To Do If The Back Of Your Knee Hurts
The back of the knee has complicated anatomy.
As well as the knee joint that sits in the middle, there are muscles from the thigh and calf that pass through this area. Firstly, the large hamstring muscles start from the pelvis and pass across the knee to attach to the lower leg bones. In addition, the large calf muscles start at the bottom part of the thigh and cross the knee to form the large Achilles tendon.
Finally, there are important nerves and blood vessels that cross the back of the knee to supply the lower leg and foot.
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So How Do We Assure Proper Knee Alignment In Our Movement
The answer is simple glutes.The glutes you say? But it is an entire thigh removed from the knee! How is it possible for the glutes to be the prime protector of the knee? Simple. Lets review the glutes and their functions.
There are quite a few gluteal muscles located in the hip. However, the ones mainly responsible for proper knee alignment and safety are the ones that separate the thighs, and outwardly rotate the hip to prevent medial collapse of the knee.
Exercises To Reduce Knee Pain
Knee pain is one of the most common orthopedic conditions for which people seek medical treatment. It includes pain felt behind and around the knee cap, especially during activities like stair climbing, squatting, running, and walking while carrying a heavy load. Knee pain can prevent you from participating in your favorite activities and performing daily tasks. Without proper treatment, it can linger for years.
Knee pain can be caused by a variety of factors, some of which include knee stiffness, incorrect positioning of the knee cap at rest or with movement, flat feet, improper exercise form, and weakness of the muscles that control the hip and knee.
A physical therapist can work with you to address your knee pain. After an evaluation, a physical therapist will design an individualized comprehensive treatment program to address the specific factors causing your knee pain. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation.
To find a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.
These exercises are proven by research to reduce pain and improve your ability to participate in the activities you love.
Consult your health care provider before starting these exercises to determine if they are right for you. If you experience any symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness at any time, you should stop immediately. These exercises are provided for educational information only.
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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:
A Woman’s Aching Knees
The knee is formed by the femur , the tibia and the patella . It is essentially a hinge joint that is held in place by the medial collateral , lateral collateral , anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate ligaments .
Most of us have heard that women athletes are more prone to suffering from a traumatic knee injury. But what most people don’t know is that you don’t have to be a weekend warrior to end up with a serious knee problem. Each year, roughly 10 million women see their doctors for knee pain, often caused by activities that are not related to sports, such as lifting boxes, going up a flight of stairs or squatting too much while gardening.
Why are women winding up with more knee injuries? Researchers suspect one of the most likely causes is the way women are built. Women tend to have wider hips and are slightly knock-kneed and this alignment can create added stress on the joints. Another cause could be traced to a woman’s muscles. More often, women tend to use their leg muscles differently than men.
Here are some common knee problems women encounter and tips from UCSF orthopedic surgeons and knee specialists on how to prevent them:
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How Can I Ease Knee Pain At Home
Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend home care to relieve knee pain. These may include:
- Applying heat or ice packs.
- Modifying activities to avoid causing pain.
- Practicing gentle stretches or exercises.
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Topical treatments such as muscle creams or rubs.
- Wearing a brace to support the knee.
What Treatments Can Provide Pain Relief
The nature of your injury will guide the treatment. So will your preferences. It is best to consider the full menu of options available. These include:
Physician anesthesiologists are committed to patient safety and high-quality care, and have the necessary knowledge to understand and treat the entire human body.
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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.
Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
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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For Tendinitis Runners Knee Gout And Bursitis
The treatment for conditions that cause swelling, redness, and dull, burning pain usually starts with resting the joint. Ice your knee to control swelling. Elevate and stay off your joint to promote healing.
Your doctor may recommend or prescribe NSAIDs like ibuprofen. Lifestyle changes, such as wearing protective kneepads and going to physical therapy, can help you manage pain and experience fewer symptoms.
You may need to make changes to your diet, especially if youre treating gout.
Other Injuries And Conditions
Because the knee is the largest joint in your body, it is prone to injury and strain. If you fall or bump your knee, you may experience pain from bruising. If youve fractured any of the three bones in your knee, you may experience weakness, sharp pain, or deep throbbing sensations.
Rheumatoid arthritis can present similar symptoms to osteoarthritis, but this autoimmune condition may require different treatments than joint damage caused by the wear-and-tear typical of aging.
If you are experiencing knee pain that interrupts your daily life and persists after several days of rest, consider consulting with a healthcare provider.
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When Should I Call The Doctor About Knee Pain
See your doctor right away if you have severe knee pain after a fall or accident, or if your knee is too painful or unstable to support your weight. You should also see your doctor if your knee is swollen or you cant extend it all the way. Call your doctor if you have pain that keeps bothering you longer than a few days.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/03/2020.
How Are Knee Injuries Diagnosed
To diagnose a knee injury, health care providers ask about how the injury happened and what symptoms it causes.
The health care provider will do a physical exam that includes pressing on the knee and legs and moving them in certain ways. These tests can show what part of the knee is injured.
Imaging tests done sometimes used include:
- X-rays to check for injuries to the bones
- a CT scan or MRI to look inside the knee
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Mechanical Problems That Cause Knee Pain
Here are some examples of mechanical problems that can cause knee pain.
A Loose body Sometimes injury or degeneration of bone or cartilage can cause a piece of bone or cartilage to break off and float in your knee joint. This may not create any problems unless the loose body interferes with knee joint movement, in which case the effect is something like a doorstop blocking a door.
Iliotibial band syndrome This occurs when the tough band of tissue that extends from the outside of your hip to the outside of your knee becomes so tight that it rubs against the outer portion of your femur. This is common in distance runners and cyclists.
Knee-cap pain This occurs when your knee-cap tilts slightly out of place, usually towards the outside of your knee. In some cases, this leads to chronic rubbing on the back of the knee-cap which causes inflammation and pain at the front of your knee.
Hip or foot pain If you have hip or foot pain, you may change the way you walk to take the load off painful joints. This altered way of walking can place more stress on your knee joint. In some cases, problems in the hip or foot can cause knee pain.
Exercise And Knee Pain
If your knee pain is due to an injury, surgery, or arthritis, gentle stretching and strengthening exercises may help ease the pain while also improving your flexibility and range of motion.
Exercising a knee thats injured or arthritic may seem counterintuitive, but in fact, exercise is better for your knee than keeping it still. Not moving your knee can cause it to stiffen, and this may worsen the pain and make it harder to go about your daily activities.
Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises can strengthen the muscles that support your knee joint. Having stronger muscles can reduce the impact and stress on your knee, and help your knee joint move more easily.
Before you start an exercise program for knee pain, be sure to talk to your doctor or physical therapist to make sure the exercises are safe for you. Depending on your situation, they may recommend some modifications.
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Can You Run On Runners Knee
Avoid doing any intense running, such as long runs, intervals or speed work, as these may cause further damage to your knee and increase inflammation. If your level of pain is above a 3 out of 10, you may want to stop running entirely. However, you should continue training your cardio with low-impact cross training.
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What Else Can Help With Knee Pain
Finding relief from knee pain depends on the cause or issue thats making it difficult for you to go about your daily activities. Carrying excess weight puts extra stress on your knees, which may lead to osteoarthritis.
In this case, the most effective treatment, according to the Cleveland Clinic, is weight loss. Your doctor may recommend a combination of diet and exercise to help you lose weight and strengthen the muscles in your lower body, especially around your knees.
A 2013 study found that adults with overweight and knee osteoarthritis experienced a reduction in weight and knee pain after 18 months of a diet and exercise program.
But if overuse is the culprit, your doctor will likely suggest RICE which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation and physical therapy. A physical therapist can work with you to develop a program that includes range of motion exercises, stretches, and muscle strengthening movements.
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How Is Arthritis Of The Knee Treated
Healthcare providers can’t cure knee arthritis. But they have some tips that might reduce the severity of your symptoms and possibly stop the arthritis from getting worse, including:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise using low-impact activities instead of high-impact activities . Aim for about 150 minutes of exercise per week.
- Wear shock-absorbing inserts in your shoes.
- Apply heat or ice to the area.
- Wear a knee sleeve or brace.
- Physical therapy exercises that help with flexibility, strength and motion.
- Use a cane.
Most people have stage 4 arthritis when they get surgery.
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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What Are Other Knee Injuries Runners Have
Athletes can also have injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament , posterior cruciate ligament , collateral ligament, meniscus, cartilage and tendons. While these aren’t as common in runners, they’re still serious and require medical attention.
Knee injuries range from minor to serious, so it’s important to take a break from running and see your healthcare provider if pain persists.
Youre Sitting In An Awkward Position
First, let me clarify something:
An awkward position for you may be comfortable for someone else.
That said, certain positions can increase knee discomfort. They can be problematic if you keep them for extended periods.
A common awkward sitting position is having your legs crossed Indian style.
Theres nothing wrong with it if your joints are healthy. But, make sure to do movement breaks to avoid pain.
In contrast, its best to avoid this sitting position if you have a previous knee injury. Having your knees bent for long periods can worsen the pain.
Also, you may have to change the way you sit for a while if you have a knee problem. Find a position that doesnt make your pain worse and treat the root cause of your knee pain.
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Understanding What Knee Pain Is
Knee pain is, in essence, a signal from your body that something is wrong with your knee. In some cases, it is, in fact, your knee telling you that you have torn a ligament or have otherwise injured it.
However, in other cases, it is telling you there is an infection, inflammation, or some other ailment that falls under the knee pain without traumatic injuries or dislocation.
Luckily, certain conditions resulting in knee pain are relatively minor and only require in-home treatment to resolve. However, other types of pain are harder to resolve, and even if they are not the result of injury, they will require some level of medical intervention to resolve.
Severe Knee Pain Symptoms
Severe Knee Pain & Instability: Severe knee pain accompanied by instability usually points to a ligament injury. If the knee gives out completely i.e. collapses so that you stumble or fall, it is likely that you have ruptured one of the knee ligaments, such as a complete ACL tear. If however the knee feels wobbly but doesn’t actually give way, it’s likely that a ligament was overstretched but remains intact, known as a knee sprain.
Swollen, Red & Hot Knee: Severe knee pain that is accompanied by swelling, redness and heat is most likely due to gout or septic arthritis or cellulitis and may require antibiotics.
Sudden, Severe Knee Pain: Severe knee pain that comes on very suddenly at night with no obvious cause usually indicates gout knee. If however the severe knee pain started after some kind of accident e.g. fall, RTA or sports, then you may have broken or dislocated part of the knee. Knee cap injuries are particularly common.
Severe Knee Pain With Deformity: If your knee looks deformed or out of shape, you problem have some kind of bony injury. If there is a large obvious lump on the outer side of the knee, you’ve probably got a dislocated kneecap.
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