If you’re experiencing knee pain, you are not alone, but you may have more treatment options than you realize. A skilled knee doctor will treat patients for a wide range of conditions. If you are experiencing pain, swelling, or a limited range of motion, it’s important to see a healthcare professional — otherwise you may risk injuring your knee even further. In many cases, surgery and prescription medications can be avoided.
Diagnosing Knee Pain
The knee is a complex mechanism that contains tendons, muscle, bone, and soft tissue. Should any aspect of the knee sustain injury or wear out, it often results in pain, swelling, and limited movement. One reason why it’s important to seek a diagnosis from a knee doctor is that when the body naturally attempts to protect the damaged knee, it puts more stress on the second knee and other areas of the body. This can lead to additional pain and physical trauma. Your knee doctor will diagnose your condition using a variety of methods, including:
- Obtaining your medical history. In addition to previous issues with either of your knees, your doctor will want to know about your overall health, other health conditions you’ve had, and any medications you are currently taking for any reason.
- Understanding the nature of your knee pain. For instance, is it sharp, burning, or aching? From where is the pain originating? When did the pain begin? Was there physical trauma to the knee that marks when you began feeling pain? In what ways has your knee prevented you from moving and walking normally? Can you place weight on the knee?
- A physical exam. Your doctor may use his or her hands to physically examine your knee and the surrounding areas of your leg, feeling for abnormalities and range of movement limitations.
- X-rays or other diagnostic tests, if necessary. This is not always needed, and will only be performed if warranted on a case by case basis.
Common Causes of Knee Pain
As mentioned, the knee is a complex mechanism. Once diagnosed, your knee doctor will explain in detail the nature of your condition and why it is occurring. The knee consists of three bones:
- The lower part of the thigh bone
- The upper part of the shin bone
- The kneecap
There are also ligaments and tendons that hold those three bones together, allowing them to work in sync and without bone rubbing on bone (normally). In addition, the knee contains cartilage beneath the kneecap itself as well as between each of the bones. Cartilage assists the knee in remaining stable.
When any aspect of the knee fails or is compromised, pain and limited movement usually follow. Here are some of the most common knee conditions:
- Arthritis: This includes knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Ligament injury: This includes collateral ligament injury, cruciate ligament injury, and posterior cruciate ligament injury.
- Torn cartilage: This is often referred to as a meniscus injury.