When diagnosing any knee pain, the physician will take your medical history and perform a thorough physical examination.
To help your doctor best understand your knee pain, you’ll need to provide the following information:
• A description of your knee pain (aching, tenderness, burning or swelling)
• Where the pain is located and when it occurs
• When the pain started (and if it is the result of an injury or accident)
• Anything that makes the pain worse or better
Your doctor also may order imaging tests to view the joint, which may include the following:
X-rays – An X-ray can show if there are certain problems, such as deterioration or fracture, within your knee.
MRI – In some cases, your doctors may order a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. An MRI provides significantly more detail about the soft tissues in your knee, such as the cartilage on the surface of the bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles.
CT scan – Computerized tomography scans combine X-ray views from multiple angles, creating a two- or three-dimensional, cross-sectional image. These images show “slices” of bone and soft tissue.
Knee injuries can be the result of sports, falls or trauma. They typically involve the ligaments that hold two of the bones of the knee – the femur and tibia – together. Here are some of the most common types:
Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are among the most common and dreaded sports injuries. Your ACL keeps your knee from moving too far out of position. Changing directions too quickly or hyperextending the knee can tear the ACL. Women are more prone to tearing the ACL. Surgery is often necessary to repair damage to an ACL.
A stretch or tear of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) is typically caused by a hit or blow to the outer knee. Pain is felt along the inner knee. Bracing and conservative treatment, such as rest and physical therapy, are usually sufficient to heal these injuries.
The meniscus is crescent-shaped cartilage between your thigh bone (femur) and lower leg bone (tibia). You have two of these cushions in each of your knees, inner (medial) and outer (lateral). The medial one is most often injured. These injuries often are caused by sudden twisting, resulting in swelling, pain and locking of the knee. Arthroscopic surgery may be necessary to remove the torn fragment when conservative treatment does not help.