Knee and joint pain and described
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
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There are many causes for knee pain.
The pain of arthritis is usually a dull pain that is occasionally sharp with sudden movements. The pain is usually located at the joint line (where the tibia [lower leg bone] meets the femur [upper leg bone]) and in the front of the knee.
Someone who has arthritis in the knee may experience pain, swelling, and a decrease in knee motion. A common symptom is morning stiffness that lessens as the person moves around. Stiffness may also reoccur during the day if the patient sits for a long time. Sometimes the joint locks or clicks when the knee is bent and straightened. The pain is worse when exiting a chair or car. It is also worse with any prolonged walking or standing. Pain may be present at night.
Occasionally the knee may catch on the rough uneven surfaces of your cartilage. Patients often complain of grinding in the knee, and occasional popping.
Another cause of knee pain is tearing of the meniscus (cartilage cushion). This problem presents with locking and catching of the knee. Minor tears don't require surgery and will heal on their own. More severe tears will require surgery.
A Baker’s cyst results from an number of different problems including arthritis or even a tear of the meniscus. The swelling from this problem causes fluid to build up in the knee. This fluid pushes out the weakest point of the joint capsule surrounding the knee. This is usually towards the back portion of the knee capsule. This results in the formation of a pocket of fluid- a cyst. The cyst has a one way valve and the fluid becomes trapped in the cyst. There will be swelling in the back of the knee. This is associated with pain usually described as dull and aching. The pain is worse with prolonged walking or standing. It is sometimes improved with rest, elevation and taking pain medication.
Various forms of bursitis can develop around the knee and cause swelling, heat, redness, and pain. If infected, fever may also be present. Septic bursitis is a medical emergency and will require drainage and antibiotics.
Non-infectious bursitis can be treated conservatively with ice, anti-inflammatory medications and ice.
Tendonitis of the knee may cause severe pain in the knee. While the usual treatments of ice, rest, and anti-inflammatory agents work, occasionally, chronic tendonitis needs to be treated with ultrasound guide needle tenotomy and platelet-rich plasma.
Ligament injuries are treated the same way that tendon problems are.
Knee pain will be evaluated by physical examination and examining x rays, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Blood tests may be helpful for diagnosing various types of arthritis. Analyzing fluid from the knee joint may be helpful in diagnosing some kinds of arthritis.
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