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Knee Injury (cont.)

Knee Injury Symptoms and Signs

Acute knee injuries can cause pain and swelling with difficulty bending the knee and weight-bearing. If the swelling occurs immediately, it may suggest a ligament tear or fracture. If the swelling arises over a period of many hours, meniscal or cartilage injuries may be the cause. However, injuries to the knee may involve more than one structure and the symptoms may not present classically.

Longer-term symptoms that point to knee problems will include pain and swelling in addition to other complaints. Inflammation in the joint may be caused by even minor activity. Swelling may be intermittent, brought on by activity, and may gradually resolve as the inflammation decreases.

Pain, too, may come and go and may not occur right away with activity but might be delayed as the inflammation develops. Pain can also be felt with specific activities. Pain while climbing stairs is a symptom of meniscus injury, where the cartilage is being pinched in the joint as it narrows with bending. Pain with walking down stairs suggests patellar pain, where the kneecap is being forced onto the femur.

Giving way, or a feeling of instability of the knee, or, popping or grinding in the knee is associated with cartilage or meniscus tears. "Locking" is the term used when the knee joint refuses to completely straighten, and this is almost always due to torn cartilage. In this situation, the torn piece of cartilage folds upon itself and doesn't allow the knee to extend.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/28/2014

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