The knee is the largest joints in the body, formed by the lower end of the femur, upper end of the tibia and the patella or kneecap. Ligaments and muscles attach to the bones of the knee joint to maintain normal motion and stability of the joint. Cartilaginous rings known as menisci are located between the two articular ends of the joint. The meniscus acts as a secondary stabilizer and shock absorber during movement.
Knee pain is a common condition that can affect individuals of all ages and for a variety of different reasons. A precise diagnosis of the underlying cause is important to develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Some of the common causes for knee pain include:
- Arthritis: a condition associated with inflammation of the joint
- Knee ligament injuries
- Torn meniscus
- Patellar tendonitis: inflammation of the patellar tendon which connects the kneecap to the shin bone
- Chondromalacia patellae: softening of the articular cartilage on the under surface of the kneecap causing knee pain
- Bursitis: inflammation of the bursae, small fluid-filled sacs located around the joints, usually between a tendon and the bone.
- Baker's cyst: a fluid-filled swelling in the back of the knee which usually results from another problem such as a meniscus tear
- Gout: characterized by sudden, severe attacks of joint pain, with swelling and redness around the joint, caused by accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints
- Osteochondritis dissecans: characterized by detachment of a cartilage fragment and a thin layer of the bone from the end of a bone due to inadequate blood supply; these fragments may either stay in place or slide around the joint causing pain and joint instability
- Plica syndrome: results from inflammation of the synovial tissue of the knee causing knee pain and swelling.
- Osgood-Schlatter disease: caused by irritation of the growth plate at the front of the knee joint and is more common in adolescents
Knee pain will be evaluated by Dr. Fischer for a proper diagnosis and treatment. A focused history and physical examination of the knee is essential to make an accurate diagnosis. Dr. Fischer may recommend diagnostic imaging studies such as X-rays, MRI, CT, or ultrasound. Blood tests may be performed to identify infection, gout or pseudogout. Sometimes arthrocentesis may be performed, where the fluid from the knee joint is removed and sent for laboratory analysis.
Options depend upon the underlying cause responsible for knee pain. Some of the common treatment options for knee pain include rest, ice and heat application, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, stretching, physical therapy and injections.
Knee arthroscopy may be recommended to treat mechanical sources of knee pain. Knee arthroscopy is a surgical procedure in which the internal structures of the joint are examined to diagnose as well as treat the underlying mechanical dysfunction.
If you have difficulty walking, deformity around the joint, inability to bend the knee, knee pain persisting beyond a few days and more at night, or pain associated with swelling, warmth, or redness, you should consult Dr. Fischer for further evaluation and to potentially adjust the treatment plan.