Doctor's Notes on Knee Pain
Knee pain is any type of pain (sharp, dull, aching, recurrent, for example) that occurs in the knee either at rest or during use. There are two main types, acute and chronic. Signs and symptoms of acute knee pain include sharp and intense pain. The knee cannot support weight and the patient usually can't walk. In addition, the knee can swell and be very tender to touch. If ligaments are torn, the person may hear a popping sound. If tendons are involved, the patient may not be able to extend the knee while meniscal injuries may cause the knee to lock. Dislocation of the knee causes the knee to look out of place, and the patient has severe pain. A dislocated kneecap is visibly out of place, painful, and the patient may not be able to flex or extend the knee.
Signs and symptoms include knee pain that occurs more often with activity, and the knee may be stiff. Some patients may have swelling and pain in other joints. Other symptoms and signs depend on the underlying cause of chronic knee pain and include painful, swollen, and warm-to-the-touch knee joints. They also may be unable to have full range of knee motion. Infection of the knee joint can produce signs and symptoms of fever, chills, knee swelling, and joint warmth. Other less frequent causes usually result in intermittent pain in the joint and/or tendons that worsen when the knee joint is moved.
There are many causes of acute and chronic knee pain. Causes of acute knee pain include
- strained and/or torn collateral and cruciate ligaments,
- tendon ruptures,
- meniscal injuries,
- knee dislocation, and
- kneecap dislocation.
Causes of chronic knee pain include
- rheumatoid arthritis,
- chondromalacia patella (mistracking by the kneecap),
- tendinitis (jumpers' knee),
- Osgood-Schlatter disease (quadriceps tendon inflammation), and
- iliotibial band syndrome (lateral knee pain due to ligament stress).
What Are the Treatments for Knee Pain?
Knee pain treatments vary according to causes. Therapy ranges from RICE to exercises to over-the-counter (OTC) medications to knee replacements.
- RICE treatment (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation)
- Therapy: exercises to improve flexibility
- Arch supports to knee braces
- Osteotomy is realignment of bones by removing some bony material from the femur or other bones.
- Arthroscopic surgery can examine/repair the knee joint.
- Partial knee replacement surgery replaces the damaged portion of the knee with metal and/or plastic parts.
- Total knee replacement replaces a knee joint with an artificial joint.
You and your orthopedic specialist can determine the best treatments to solve your knee pain problems.
Pain : Test Your IQ of Pain QuizQuestion
Medically speaking, the term "myalgia" refers to what type of pain?See Answer
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Dislocated KneeA dislocated knee occurs when the bones that form your knee are out of place. Symptoms and signs include severe pain and swelling. Treatment usually involves relocation, immobilization, and possible reconstruction surgery.
GoutGout is characterized by abnormal uric acid metabolism. Symptoms and signs include a red, hot, swollen joint, and acute pain. Medications for the treatment of gout include NSAIDs, colchicine, corticosteroids, probenecid, allopurinol, and febuxostat. Staying hydrated as well as elevating and applying ice packs to the swollen joint may help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Knee Joint ReplacementThe procedure of knee joint replacement is called a total knee arthroplasty (TKA). This surgery involves replacing your knee joint with a manmade one. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis commonly cause loss of knee function that necessitates a knee joint replacement.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a scanner that takes cross-sectional images of the body. It is used to evaluate tissues of the head, neck, chest, limbs, abdomen, and pelvis. MRI is a very safe procedure; sedation may be used for infants, small children, or adults who are claustrophobic.
Minimally Invasive Knee ReplacementMinimally invasive knee replacement is surgery performed with smaller incisions, which reduces the trauma to the tissue, reduces pain, and shortens recovery time. Risks include nerve injury, blood clots, fracture, blood loss, infection after surgery, and improper placement of the components.
Muscle StrainMuscle strain or muscle pull or even a muscle tear implies damage to a muscle or its attaching tendons. Symptoms and signs include swelling, bruising, pain, and weakness. Treatment may involve rest, ice, compression, and elevation in addition to taking anti-inflammatory medications.
OsteoarthritisOsteoarthritis is not a single disease but a culmination of problems that leads to skeletal joint failure. Symptoms include aching, stiffness, and bone enlargement. Diet, exercise, pain medication, and sometimes surgery treat osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)Rheumatoid arthritis (often called RA) is a chronic (long-standing) disease that damages the joints of the body. Symptoms and signs of rheumatoid arthritis include joint pain, swelling, inflammation, stiffness, warmth, muscle aches, weakness, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and malaise. Treatment may involve physical therapy, occupational therapy, hydrotherapy, heat and cold treatments, joint replacements, and medications.
Sprains and StrainsAn injury to a ligament is called a sprain, while an injury to a muscle or tendon is called a strain. Symptoms and signs include pain, swelling, bruising, and decreased range of motion. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the injury is the standard treatment for sprains and strains.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.