Where Does it Hurt?

Knee Pain

Knee pain can arise from a variety of causes, ranging from overuse to sudden injury or a serious medical condition. Knee pain can interfere greatly with your daily life, making it difficult to move, walk, climb stairs, sleep, work, or enjoy hobbies and recreation. Shasta Orthopaedics can help with your knee problems, even knee replacement, and get you moving around again.

Common Knee Problems

Strain or Sprain of the Knee Muscles or Ligaments
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Aches in the knee
  • Stiffness of the knee muscles
  • Pain that spreads through the leg, hip, or foot

The terms strain and sprain refer to an injury to the ligaments or muscles in the knee. This condition may arise from a sudden movement or an injury. The severity of sprains and strains can vary greatly. Symptoms may also include shooting pain that spreads through the leg or feet, most likely signifying the presence of a pinched nerve.

Meniscus Tear
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain in or around the knee
  • Swelling
  • Pain at the inside or outer side of the knee

This condition describes a tear in the rubbery cushions of the knee joint called the meniscus. The meniscus is tissue made of two disks, called the medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus, that evenly distribute weight across the knee by acting as shock absorbers. Meniscus tears can occur when the knee twists, most commonly during sports activity. This condition can also result from a breakdown of the menisci, in which the tissue is weakened from normal wear and tear.

Ligament Tears
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Feeling a pop in the knee associated with an injury
  • Mild or severe pain
  • Feeling of instability
  • Swelling of the knee that limits movement

Ligament tears in the knee can cause problems that are sudden or long lasting. The two main ligaments in the knee are the medial collateral ligament, or MCL, and the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. Although injuries to the MCL occur more commonly, the ACL can be injured if the knee is straightened too far, or bent sideways. Ligament tears usually occur during sports or recreational activities.

Loose Pieces of Bone or Tissue
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Locking of the knee
  • Pain and swelling of the knee that comes and goes
  • Ability to feel an object under the skin
  • Stiffness in the knee

Loose bodies, or pieces of bone or tissue, may get caught in the knee joint as a result of a fracture or dislocation. This can cause annoying and painful symptoms in the knee that commonly interfere with movement. Loose bodies can be caused by degenerative joint disease, a chip fracture, torn cartilage, and foreign objects from a penetrating injury, inflammation, or decreased blood supply.

Bursitis
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain in the affected knee, especially with motion or pressure
  • Swelling in the knee
  • Redness and warmth

Bursae are fluid filled sacs that create a cushion between the bones, ligaments, tendons, muscle, and skin. Bursitis describes a condition in which one or more of these sacs become inflamed. This condition is commonly caused by repeated movement or prolonged pressure on the affected area. Bursitis can be caused by overuse, injury, or conditions like arthritis or infection.

Tendon Injury
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain in the knee
  • Tenderness
  • Decreased strength
  • Decreased movement

Tendons are the tough, rope-like fibers that connect your muscles to your bones. Tendon injuries can be caused by repeated activity, wear and tear, or aging. Common conditions related to tendon injury include tendon inflammation, known as Tendonitis, and Tendonosis, which describes tiny tears that occur in the connective tissue in or around the tendon. Tendinopathy describes the occurrence these two conditions simultaneously.

Plica Syndrome
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain in or around the knee
  • Snapping sensation along the inside of the knee when it is bent
  • Tenderness
  • A tender band that can be felt under the skin of the knee
  • Swelling in the knee

Plica Syndrome is a condition in which the knee ligaments thicken or fold and become irritated or inflamed. The ligaments in the center of the knee, called the medial plica, are most commonly affected. When the knee is bent, the ligaments are exposed to direct injury. In addition to resulting from sudden injury, plica syndrome can also be caused by overuse and repetitive motion.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain in the knee
  • Pain that increases when sitting with your knees bent
  • Pain that increase when squatting, jumping, or using the stairs
  • Occasional knee buckling
  • Catching, popping, or grinding sensation with movement

Patellofemoral pain syndrome describes pain that occurs in the front of the knee. This condition usually results from overuse, injury, excess weight, or problems in the kneecap.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain on the outside of the knee or hip
  • Snapping hip or knee pain associated with movement
  • Pain that generally disappears as the leg is stretched and flexibility increases
  • Pain in the knee that improves with rest.

The iliotibial band is composed of fibrous tissue that provides stability to the knee and hip and prevents dislocation. In this condition, the band may overdevelop, tighten, and rub across the hipbone or the outer part of the knee when bent or flexed. This condition can arise from repeated aerobic activity, and is particularly common in runners and cyclists.

Osteoarthritis
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain in the joint of the knee
  • Stiffness after periods of inactivity
  • Limited motion of the knee
  • Tenderness and occasional swelling in or around the joint
  • Enlargement of knee joints
  • Sensation of grinding associated with movement and pain

Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cartilage that protects and cushions the joints breaks down over time, causing bones to rub together and cause damage. Osteoarthritis can affect various parts of the body in addition to the knee, including the spine, fingers, thumbs, hips, elbows, or toes.

Osgood-Schlatter Disease
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain and tenderness in front of the knee
  • Mild swelling or a bump below the kneecap at the top of the shin
  • Symptoms get worse with exercise or activity

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition in which inflammation affects the top of the shinbone, or tibia, where the tendon attaches to the bony mound in the knee called the tibial tubercle. This disease commonly affects children between the ages of 10 and 15, and usually flares during growth spurts.

Popliteal Cyst
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Swelling behind the knee
  • Swelling that increases while standing
  • Discomfort behind the knee and into the upper calf
  • Discomfort when the knee is completely bent or straight.

A popliteal cyst, also known as a Baker's cyst, is a lumpy pocket of fluid that forms behind the knee causing swelling and discomfort.

Osteochondritis Dissecans
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain and swelling in the knee
  • A grating feeling in the knee joint
  • Decreased joint movement
  • Locking of the knee

Osteochondritis dissecans is a condition in which a piece of bone or cartilage inside a joint loses blood supply and dies. This condition may be caused by injury or overuse from an activity that repeatedly jams one bone end against another. Osteochondritis dissecans can also cause a piece of tissue to become loose and cause problems inside the joint.

It is very important to seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing symptoms in your knee.

Symptoms in your knee can indicate serious medical conditions that require immediate medical attention, including severe injury and infection.

Seek emergency medical care immediately if you have been injured or if your symptoms are severe. In the context of all knee problems, early diagnosis and treatment are necessary to prevent further damage and complications.

Once emergency care has been administered, orthopaedic medicine may be able to help immensely with pain symptoms that can arise from a variety of conditions, or linger long after an injury.