FAQ’s on Knee Pain

What is Knee Pain?

Pain in the knee is one of the most common causes of patients experiencing pain, and accounts for nearly one third of all visits to a physician in the United States alone. Knee pain is any pain that is being felt in the knee as the result of one or more conditions present in the knee of patients. The knee is the largest joint present in the body, and is lined with cartilage similar to other joints. If this cartilage is lost, whether by general degradation or by direct damage, painful spots of inflammation and swelling may occur in the knee.

The knee is comprised of three main components, which are the inner and outer compartments that are held together by the knee cap. Surrounding these three components is a wealth of muscles, ligaments, and tendons that assist in holding them together and in providing function to the knee. When one or more of the knee compartments, or the surrounding tissue that holds them together, becomes damaged patients may experience severe pain.

What are the causes of Knee Pain?

There are two primary methods that result in pain for the knee: Acute causes and causes due to overuse.

The acute causes of knee pain are most commonly injury, which can occur with a direct blow to the knee or from a sudden unexpected twisting or bending of the knee. Pain from injury can also be sustained if a patient falls onto one or both knees hard enough to cause physical trauma.  Other common acute causes of knee pain include a sprain or strain in one or more of the ligaments and tendons, a tear in the meniscus of the knee, a fracture to the knee cap or of the tibia or fibula, or dislocation of either the knee joint or knee cap.

Patients who are experiencing pain due to overuse of the knee are feeling the effects of one of the many forms of inflammation. Overuse injuries can occur as a result of any repeated action of the knee, or there is a constant pressure being placed onto the knee. Common activities that can cause overuse injuries include jogging, repeated jumping, stair climbing, or cycling. Overuse through activities may also cause inflammation or tears in the tendons and ligaments of the knee.

What are the symptoms of Knee Pain?

The exact symptoms a patient will have vary based on what the root cause of knee pain is. Common symptoms shared across multiple causes include pain in the knee localized to the source of pain, swelling of the knee, tenderness or redness of the skin above the pain, and a reduction in the functional capability of the knee when swelling or inflammation interferes with the movement of one or more knee components.

How is Knee Pain diagnosed?

The common method of diagnosis for knee pain is a complete examination of the knee combined with diagnostic imaging techniques. Patients will typically be given an X-ray to investigate potential physical causes of knee pain, such as damage or injury, and may be given either an MRI or CT scan to inspect the tissue of the knee and to search for the presence of inflammation.

What are the treatment options for Knee Pain?

The treatment options available will differ based on what the cause of pain is. For pain resulting from acute injury to the knee, physical therapy, medication for pain and inflammation may be the best treatment options. Some acute knee injuries may require corrective surgery to obtain symptomatic relief. Pain resulting from overuse injury can best be treated through rest and medication.