The cause of knee pain can usually be diagnosed with a detailed description of one’s symptoms, a medical history, as well as an evaluation and examination, (and possibly diagnostic testing), will lead to a diagnosis of a general cause (such as a sprain or strain), or a specific condition (such as a meniscal tear). Possible diagnoses for knee pain could include but are not limited to: Sprains/ Strains, a broken bone, torn ligament, meniscus tear, osteoarthritis, patellar syndromes, dislocation, gout, tendinitis, and bursitis.
What is knee pain?
Knee pain is a common problem that can originate in any of the bony structures causing pain in the knee joint (femur, tibia, fibula), the kneecap (patella), or the ligaments and cartilage (meniscus) of the knee. Knee pain can affect people of all ages.
What are knee pain symptoms and signs?
The location of the knee pain can vary depending on which structure is involved. With infection or an inflammatory process, the whole knee might be swollen and painful, while a torn meniscus or fracture of a bone gives symptoms only in one specific location. The severity of the pain can vary, from a minor ache to severe pain.
Some of the other findings that accompany knee pain are
- difficulty walking due to instability of the knee
- limping due to discomfort
- difficulty walking up or down steps due to ligament damage or locking of the knee (unable to bend the knee)
- redness and swelling
- inability to extend the knee (straighten the knee)
- Fractures: Direct trauma to the bony structure can cause one of the bones in the knee to break. This is usually a very obvious and painful injury. Most knee fractures are not only painful but will also interfere with the proper functioning of the knee (such as kneecap fracture) or make it very painful to put weight through the leg (such as tibial plateau fracture). All fractures need immediate medical attention.
- Ligament injuries: The most common injury is the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury. This is often a sports-related injury due to a sudden stop and change in directions.
- Meniscus injuries: The menisci (medial and lateral) 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.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune condition that can affect any joint in the body. It can cause severe pain and disability, as well as swelling.
- Gout: A form of arthritis that is most commonly found in the big toe, though it can also affect the knee.
- Septic arthritis:(infectious arthritis), the knee joint can become infected; this leads to pain, swelling, and fever. This condition requires antibiotics and drainage treatments as soon as possible.
- Patellar tendinitis: an inflammation of the tendons connecting the kneecap (patella) to the bone of the lower leg. Patellar tendinitis is a chronic condition often found in individuals repeating the same motion (such as runners and cyclists).
- Osteoarthritis: A wearing down of cartilage of the joint due to use and age
- Osgood-Schlatter Disease: Children can develop inflammation of the point of bony insertion of the patellar tendon.
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