Knee pain has become one of the most common problems in the present age and many patients often complain of different knee pain symptoms. Knee pain is uncomfortable and painful. Accurate knee pain diagnosis is the important element in healing the pain permanently. If the accurate cause of the knee pain is identified, half the problem is solved. If the underlying cause is ignored, then there are high chances of recurrent pain in knee.
Note: Consult your personal doctor or orthopedic expert for accurate diagnosis of knee pain. At KneeOrtho, we can just provide a helpful guide, which can steer you in a proper direction.
There are three important question you should ask yourself for analyzing and identifying knee pain accurately.
- Is there any knee pain symptoms?
- Where exactly it is paining in knees or location of pain?
- When did the pain begin?
We can determine the type of knee injury or knee pain with the help of following comprehensive guides:
Section 1: Knee Pain Symptoms: Identifying & Diagnosing the Problem (YOU ARE HERE)
Below are comprehensive description of each question to aid knee pain diagnosis. Conditions have been organized systemically for ease of use.
SECTION 1: Knee Pain Symptoms
Symptoms makes it easy to identify and define the type of knee pain. It will accurately indicate the condition of knee injury and makes its apparent for proper treatment. Some of the common knee pain symptoms are:
Popping Noise in Knees
If your knees make strange noises without any swelling and pain, then there is no need to be concerned. Healthcare professionals call this noise as “crepitus” (KREP-ih-dus). Since knees support the entire weight of the body, crepitus may show up unexpectedly. It occurs due to the aging factor, when cartilage (tissue that covers bone) become rough and slides with each other. The noise also occurs when ligament tightens (ligament – tissue that connect bones).
However, if lots of pain is associated with crepitus, then you might have meniscus tear or cartilage tear. Meniscus tear is often caused while injuring knee during playing any sports or generally during older age, when it tears easily. The tear is followed with lot of pain, bulge, stiffness and knee getting locked or stuck in one position.
Ligament injury can be another probability, which occurs due to sudden twisting movements and when part of the knee experience sudden burst of force go through it. The result of ligament tear is severe pain, stiffness, swelling and difficulty while straightening and bending the knees.
Redness and Warmth
The common cause of redness and warmth is due to knee bursitis, which can happen suddenly as a result of either infection or hard blow to the knee. The skin on the knee will become red and you will feel warmth. Knee bursitis is often followed with fever.
Pain When Kneeling
If you are confronted with severe pain while kneeling down to tie your shoes or pick something, then you are affected with three possible reasons. This type of pain cause more harm than anything in your life because it will affect your day to day activities.
The first reason may be osteoarthritis, which results in swelling and warmth in the joints. It occurs mainly due to old age factor, obesity, hereditary, or injury. About 16 million people are affected with Osteoarthritis in United States of America. It is also refered to as wear and tear, arthrosis and degenerative arthritis knee.
Another reason might be housemaids knee, which is also known as prepatellar bursitis caused by the inflammation or swelling of the bursa (a small fluid-filled sac) in front of the kneecap. It happens due to direct blow to knee, kneeling down for lengthy periods, infection, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. Carpet fitters, concrete finishers and roofers are often vulnerable to housemaids knee.
The third reason can be Osgood-Schlatter, which is painful and uncomfortable condition. It affects the upper part of the shin bone and causes painful swelling just below the knee. Teenagers involved in activities like running and jumping are exposed to this condition. Even adolescent growth spurts can trigger this painful condition.
Knee Locked up or Getting Struck
The term “locked knee” is generally used when it is painful to bend and straighten the knee. It is often caused when you change your position from sitting to standing. If you experience this problem, then two you are suffering from either of two reasons.
The first one is Meniscus tear, when a large section of torn cartilage get jammed within the knee. Cartilage is a tissue which lines the joint and when it gets wedged, then it will prevent regular movement of the knees and causes severe pain on the go. This injury is generally caused when you suddenly twist, pivot or slow down on your knees and at the time of injury, you may even hear a popping sound. In the beginning, There will slight pain in the knees and you have the ability to absorb the trivial pain and continue your sporting or regular activities without any trouble. But, once the swelling is developed and popping sound starts, then you will feel severe pain in your knees.
Another reason for your knees getting struck might be Osteochondritis Dissecans, which affects young people of 10-20 years. According to a study, men are three times more vulnerable than women for this type of condition. It happens when lack of blood supply makes the small fragments of the bone and cartilage to detach from the joint and gets wedged in the joint causing pain and inability to move your knees.
Runner’s knee is also called as patellofemoral pain syndrome or anterior knee pain. It is often caused to those athletes or people, who are involved regularly in the activities of walking, skiing, running, cycling, jumping and even biking because these sports requires massive amount of knee bending. Since 550% of forces triggered by your body’s weight runs through your knees while running.
It is chronic condition wherein the pain grows gradually over a period of time. It is caused due to the training blunders and biomechanical issues. You will experience pain around the knee cap when bending knees and walking downstairs. Inflammation and grinding sensations can also be felt.
Instability In The Knee
When you feel instability or shakiness in your knee, then you are suffering from two conditions: ACL tear or Meniscus tear. In these conditions, your knee will wobble, buckles and gives way. It is often caused when you suddenly change your direction, stops, slows down, lands from a high jump and most importantly, direct blow to the side of the knee.
ACL tear is caused due to tearing of anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. Sometimes the tear can be partial or complete. At first, you will hear a popping sound along with swelling formation within 24 hours. Female athletes are generally more vulnerable to ACL injury than men athletes. Athletes involved in sports such as basketball, football, soccer, and skiing experiences ACL tears more often than other sports.
Instability in your knees can even be caused by Meniscus tear, which is painful and unbearable. Sorry to say, it is becoming a common problem in United States. Age factor also contributes to this condition. More than 40% of people above 65 are exposed to meniscus tear. Popping sound, inflammation, severe pain is followed by knee lock in Meniscus tear.
Knee Pain after Sitting for long Period of time
Sometimes, you will feel pain in your knees, when you try to stand after sitting in the office for long hours without any break. The structure of knee is complex and sensitive. You will feel pain when transferring the position from sitting to standing and vice-versa. If there is long idleness or inactivity, there is greater probability that the pain will gradually increases. If this happens, then you may be affected with three conditions.
The first one can be Arthritis, which is one of the most commonest causes of knee pain and leading reason for disability cases in United States. It is caused due to degenerative changes in the cushioning cartilage and bone in the knee joint. Arthritis are of three types – osteoarthritis (wear and tear), rheumatoid arthritis (Inflammation) and post-traumatic arthritis (Post-injury).
Another condition is Osgood Schlatter, which is a common adolescent problem caused by sudden growth spurt. It causes a lean lump just below the knee cap, which is one of the common knee pain symptoms of Osgood Schlatter. The lean bump is also called as anterior tibial tubercle. It is commonly found in boys and children aged between nine to sixteen years. It happens due to the unexpected growth of leg bones than quads. Osgood–Schlatter disease is also known as apophysitis of the tibial tubercle or OSD. The lump causes painful sensation when you change your position.
The third reason can be runner’s knee, which causes pain on side and front part of the knee. If the pain is on the side, then it is iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) and if the pain is on the front side, then it is patellofemoral syndrome (PFPS). It worsens over a period of time, when you walk or run downstairs or upstairs. Swelling and popping sensation is experienced when you are affected by runner’s knee.
Inability to Fully Straighten the Knee
If you can’t straighten your knee properly, then you may be affected with meniscal tear. It is commonly caused to football, rugby, football and skiing athletes. It happens after sudden and strong knee movement or twist. Severe pain and swelling is also experienced in meniscal tear.
Knee Pain when Descending Stairs
When you start experiencing pain while going downstairs, then there is some problem with the movement of patella. This condition is called chondromalacia patellae. Patella is also called as kneecap or kneepan. It is a thick bone, which is circular in shape and forms a joint with thigh bone. The main responsibility of kneecap is to cover as well as protect the anterior articular surface of knee joint.
The reason can be arthritis even if it is mild. Even sitting uninterruptedly in one position for hours can also leads to pain in knees. Some patients descend stairs backwards because this way it will reduce load on the knee and migrate it to thighs. The pain tends to disappear with physiotherapy.
Swelling is one of the most common knee pain symptoms and it is associated with every injury and tear. It is also called as “water on the knee.” The lubricating fluid known as synovial fluid present in the joint helps in easy movement of the knees. If it gets accumulated, it is considered as swollen knee or knee effusion.
The swollen knees can be either due to acute injury or chronic condition. In acute injuries such as acl tear and bone fracture, the blood gets into the knee and creates swollen sensation on the knee. In meniscus tear and ligament injury, the fluid accumulates and develop swollen knees.
In chronic conditions like arthritis, body produces additional fluid than required and results in swollen knees. Sometimes, one knee is seen larger than other. Some other reasons can be infection, gout and pseudogout.
If the fluid is accumulated in the bursa, which is located on the top of the kneecap, then this condition is called prepatellar bursitis. This condition causes swelling on the top of the knee.
Early Morning Knee Stiffness Issues
If you are feeling knee stiffness early in the morning, then this is the sign of osteoarthritis. The pain gradually increases and affects daily activities. It is often caused due to aging factor, injury and even obesity. It causes when cartilage starts to wear away as we age. It causes stiffness in the morning, which lasts nearly 15-20 minutes. As we start our day to day activities, the pain increases followed by swelling in the joints.
When you feel stiffness in the knee, runner’s knee can be the another reason, which has become common among the runners. It will cause pain behind and around the kneecap. Walking or running uphill or upstairs can aggravate the problem.
Bony Lump at the Top of the Shin
Osgood Schlatter is the main cause of bony enlargement on the front of knee. It is often caused in children between the ages of 10 and 15 years old. The pain increases over a period of time and causes severe irritation to the children. One reason why children are most affected by Osgood Schlatter is due to the rapid growth spurt in adolescence along with excessive sporting activities.
So, we have covered the first section i.e. knee pain symptoms and now it’s the time to look into the another most important matter i.e. location of knee pain. This way, we can accurately determine what’s the problem with your knee.
Note: Accurate knee pain diagnosis can only be understood after visiting healthcare professionals. KneeOrtho recommends you to visit doctor as soon as possible. There is no alternative to doctors’ advice and treatment. We can only provide information on knee pain symptoms for general purpose and you should understand that every case is different from one another.