Knee Injury

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What are knee injury symptoms and signs?

The symptoms and signs of knee injury are related to the type of injury and the part of the knee that was injured.

The main symptoms of knee injury are as follows:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Heat
  • Redness
  • Tenderness
  • Difficulty bending the knee
  • Problems weight bearing
  • Clicking or popping sounds
  • Locking of the knee
  • Feeling of instability
  • Bruising

If the injury is acute, the main symptoms will most likely be pain and swelling. If the injury is chronic or from overuse, the symptoms of clicking, popping, and intermittent pain will be more prominent.

What specialists treat knee injuries?

A knee injury may first be examined and treated by a primary-care provider (PCP), such as a family practitioner, an internist, or a child's pediatrician. If you go to the emergency room for your knee injury, you will be seen by an emergency-medicine specialist.

If the knee injury is severe, you may be referred to an orthopedist (a specialist in injuries of the musculoskeletal system) or an orthopedic surgeon. If your knee injury is related to sports, you may see a sports-medicine specialist.

Other medical professionals who may be involved in treating your injured knee include physical therapists, occupational therapists, or other rehabilitation specialists.

How do health-care professionals diagnose a knee injury?

The diagnosis of a knee injury is made by a physician on the basis of history, physical examination, and sometimes the use of X-rays or MRIs.

Depending on the how the knee was injured and whether or not there are accompanying medical issues, the doctor will perform specific tests involving bending or twisting the knee to test the stability of the ligaments and check for damage to the cartilage. Knee-bending tests done by your doctor are designed to isolate specifically which ligament or part of the cartilage has been damaged.

Further testing with X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs may be necessary to evaluate the extent of the injury and help determine treatment and prognosis. X-rays and CT scans are used to asses for bony injuries (fractures), and MRIs are used to evaluate soft-tissue damage (ligaments and cartilage).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/6/2016

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