Acute injuries, medical conditions, and chronic use conditions are causes of knee pain. Symptoms and signs that accompany knee pain include redness, swelling, difficulty walking, and locking of the knee. To diagnose knee pain, a physician will perform a physical exam and also may order X-rays, arthrocentesis, blood tests, or a CT scan or MRI. Treatment of knee pain depends upon the cause of the pain. Read more: Knee Pain Article
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IMAGESSee a medical illustration of the knee's anatomy plus our entire medical gallery of human anatomy and physiology See Images
Related Disease Conditions
Ankle Pain (Tendinitis)
Ankle pain is commonly due to a sprain or tendinitis. The severity of ankle sprains ranges from mild (which can resolve within 24 hours) to severe (which can require surgical repair). Tendinitis of the ankle can be caused by trauma or inflammation.
Bursitis of the knee results when any of the three fluid-filled sacs (bursae) become inflamed due to injury or strain. Symptoms include pain, swelling, warmth, tenderness, and redness. Treatment of knee bursitis depends on whether infection is involved. If the knee bursa is not infected, knee bursitis may be treated with ice compresses, rest, and anti-inflammatory and pain medications.
Buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint causes gouty arthritis. Symptoms and signs include joint pain, swelling, heat, and redness, typically of a single joint. Gout may be treated with diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medication.
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs and Ulcers
Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are prescribed medications for the treatment of inflammatory conditions. Examples of NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and more. One common side effect of NSAIDs is peptic ulcer (ulcers of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum). Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and patient safety information should be reviewed prior to taking NSAIDs.
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. Also known as degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, heredity, and injury from trauma or disease.
Pseudogout, a form of arthritis, results when deposits of crystals collect in and around the joints. Symptoms of pseudogout include pain, stiffness, warmth, and joint swelling of the knees, ankles, hips, shoulders, and/or wrists. Treatment for pseudogout aims to decrease inflammation through the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, ice, and rest.
Reactive arthritis is a chronic, systemic rheumatic disease characterized by three conditions, including conjunctivitis, joint inflammation, and genital, urinary, or gastrointestinal system inflammation. Inflammation leads to pain, swelling, warmth, redness, and stiffness of the affected joints. Non-joint areas may experience irritation and pain. Treatment for reactive arthritis depends on which area of the body is affected. Joint inflammation is treated with anti-inflammatory medications.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid disease. The 16 characteristic early RA signs and symptoms include the following. Anemia Both sides of the body affected (symmetric) Depression Fatigue Fever Joint deformity Joint pain Joint redness Joint stiffness Joint swelling Joint tenderness Joint warmth Limping Loss of joint function Loss of joint range of motion Many joints affected (polyarthritis)
Obesity is the state of being well above one's normal weight. A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are more than 20% over their ideal weight. That ideal weight must take into account the person's height, age, sex, and build.
Osgood-Schlatter disease, a painful inflammation just below the knee but above the shin, typically affects adolescent boys. Symptoms include localized pain, inflammation, swelling, and calcification. Osgood-Schlatter disease typically goes away over time, however, symptoms can be helped with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medications, ice, and rest.
A Baker's cyst, also called a popliteal cyst, is swelling caused by knee joint fluid protruding to the back of the knee (popliteal area of the knee). Not uncommon, Baker's cysts can be caused by virtually any type of joint swelling (arthritis). They are often resolved with removal of excess knee fluid in conjunction with cortisone injections.
Chondromalacia Patella (Patellofemoral Syndrome)
Chondromalacia patella (housemaid's knee or secretary's knee) results from misalignment of the kneecap as it slides over the lower end of the thigh bone. Symptoms include tightness or fullness in the knee area, swelling, and mild discomfort. Treatment includes the use of anti-inflammatory medications, in addition to stretching, strengthening and icing the knee.
Arthritis (Joint Inflammation)
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. When joints are inflamed they can develop stiffness, warmth, swelling, redness and pain. There are over 100 types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, gout, and pseudogout.
A bursa is a fluid-filled sac found in the joints that cushions them. Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursae, most commonly caused by repetitive motion. Bursitis can be caused by a bacterial infection and should be treated with antibiotics. Doctors also recommend icing and resting the joint.
Chronic pain is pain (an unpleasant sense of discomfort) that persists or progresses over a long period of time. In contrast to acute pain that arises suddenly in response to a specific injury and is usually treatable, chronic pain persists over time and is often resistant to medical treatments.
Sprains and Strains
An injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and an injury to muscle or tendon is called a strain. Sprains and strains may be caused by repetitive movements or a single stressful incident. Symptoms and signs include pain and swelling. Though treatment depends upon the extent and location of the injury, rest, ice, compression, and elevation are key elements of treatment.
Septic arthritis, or infectious arthritis, is infection of one or more joints by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Symptoms and signs of septic arthritis include fever, joint pain, chills, swelling, redness, warmth, and stiffness. Treatment involves antibiotics and the drainage of the infected joint.
A torn meniscus (knee cartilage) may be caused by suddenly stopping, sharply twisting, or deep squatting or kneeling when lifting heavy weight. Symptoms of a meniscal tear include pain with running or walking long distances, popping when climbing stairs, a giving way sensation, locking, or swelling. Treatment depends upon the severity, location, and underlying disease of the knee joint.
Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome
Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury of the thigh and knee. Symptoms include knee pain and possible swelling. Treatment may involve anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, ultrasound, massage, using a foam roller at the site of pain, and the use of orthotics.
Knee injuries, especially meniscus tears, are common in contact sports. Symptoms and signs of a torn meniscus include knee pain, swelling, a popping sound, and difficulty bending the leg. Treatment may involve resting, icing, compressing, and elevating the knee, in addition to wearing a knee brace, taking anti-inflammatory medications, and stretching the knee.
Fast-food consumption and lack of exercise are just a couple of causes of childhood obesity. Health effects of childhood obesity include type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, high cholesterol, asthma, sleep apnea, gallstones, fatty liver disease, GERD, depression, and eating disorders.
16 Early Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Early RA symptoms and signs vary differently from person to person. The most common body parts that are initially affected by RA include the small joints of the hands, wrists, and feet, and the knees and hip joints. Joint inflammation causes stiffness. Warmth, redness, and pain may vary in degree.
Flatfoot (Pes Planus)
Flatfoot is a disorder in which the foot's entire sole is touching the ground while standing. Symptoms and signs of flatfoot include heel, ankle, knee, hip, and lower back pain and shin splints. Treatment depends upon the type of flatfoot, the symptoms, and the stage of the disorder.
With a dislocated knee, the femur and shinbones are out of alignment. Severe pain, swelling, and joint deformity are symptoms and signs of a knee dislocation. Treatment typically involves reduction of the joint, surgery to repair torn ligaments, and immobilization.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- CT Scan (Computerized Tomography)
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan)
- Total Knee Replacement
- Joint Aspiration (Arthrocentesis)
- Cortisone Injection
- CT Scan vs. MRI
- How Long Does a Superficial Peroneal Nerve Block Last?
- What Are the Different Types of Knee Injections?
- What Is Allograft Reconstruction of ACL-Deficient Knee?
- Football, Knee Ligament Injury...Is it the Shoes?
- Chondroitin Sulfate & Glucosamine: What is it?
- Chondroitin Sulfate & Glucosamine: Effectiveness
- Chondroitin Sulfate & Glucosamine: Indications
- Chondroitin Sulfate & Glucosamine: Success
- Chondroitin Sulfate & Glucosamine: Side Effects
- Chondroitin Sulfate &Glucosamine: Proper Use
- Chondroitin Sulfate & Glucosamine: Other Use
- Chondroitin Sulfate & Glucosamine: Benefits
- Chondroitin & Glucosamine & NSAID's
- Chondroitin Sulfate & Glucosamine: Supervision
- Arthritis or Injury: Ice or Heat - Which To Apply
- Pain (Acute and Chronic)
- Chondromalacia: What Makes Knee Pain Worse?
- Back: 10 Health Tips for Autumn Leaves Clean-Up
- Torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) of the Knee
- Tiger Woods: Stress Fracture and Torn ACL
- Knee Pain Causes
Medications & Supplements
- acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Ext, Little Fevers Children's Fever/Pain)
- flurbiprofen (Ansaid)
- aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid, Bayer, Ecotrin, and others)
- codeine (for Pain)
- salsalate, Amigesic, Salflex, Argesic-SA, Marthritic, Salsitab, Artha-G
- diflunisal (Dolobid)
- etodolac, Lodine (Discontinued)
- ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)
- fenoprofen (Nalfon)
- naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn)
- Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen, Roxicet, Tylox, Oxycet)
- choline magnesium salicylate, Trilisate
- tramadol (Ultram)
- hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin, Norco)
- cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril, Amrix, Fexmid)
- carisoprodol (Soma)
- Oxycodone for Pain (OxyContin, Roxicodone, Oxecta, Oxaydo, Xtampza ER, Roxybond)
- celecoxib (Celebrex)
- hydrocodone and ibuprofen, Vicoprofen
- Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
- Cox-2 Inhibitors
- Over-the-Counter Products
- hylan G-F 20 (Synvisc)
- Aspirin Therapy (Guidelines for Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention)
- Pain Medications (Narcotics)
- hyaluronate (hyaluronan, Hyalgan, Supartz, Euflexxa, Orthovisc)
- hydrocodone (Zohydro ER)
- hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Oxycodone vs. Hydrocodone
- Oxycodone vs. Tramadol for Pain
- Percocet vs. Lortab
- Oxycodone vs. Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen) for Pain
- Tramadol (Ultram) Side Effects
- Oxycodone vs. Codeine
- Hydrocodone vs. Hydromorphone (Differences between Side Effects)
- Aspirin vs. NSAIDs (Side Effect and Use Differences)
- Ibuprofen vs. Meloxicam (Mobic) for Pain
- Ibuprofen (Advil) vs. Naproxen (Aleve): Comparison of Differences
- Acetaminophen vs. Ibuprofen for Pain (Differences in Side Effects and Dosage)
- Aleve (naproxen) vs. Celebrex (celecoxib)
- Ketorolac vs. ibuprofen (Advil)
- Ketorolac vs. naproxen (Aleve)
- Ketorolac vs. diclofenac
- Tylenol (acetaminophen) Side Effects, Warnings, and Interactions
- Ultram (tramadol) Side Effects, Warnings, and Interactions
Prevention & Wellness
- Middle-Aged Americans Report More Pain Than Seniors
- Most Knee Cracking Is Normal, Expert Says
- What Jobs Are Toughest on the Knees?
- Vigorous Exercise Safe for Those at Risk of Knee Arthritis
- ACL Surgery Can Do Real Damage to Your Brain: Study
- Virtual Reality Can Bring Real-Life Pain
- All in the Timing: Many Get Knee Replacement Too Late or Too Soon
- Health Tip: Common Causes of Knee Pain
- Opioids Won't Help Arthritis Patients Long-Term: Study
- Windy, Humid Days Could Bring More Pain
- Quad Training for Knee Support
- Your Noisy Knees May Be Trying to Tell You Something
- Got Knee Pain? What You Need to Know About Alternatives to Surgery
- Why a Knee Replacement Can Go Bad
- Upbeat Attitude May Be a Pain Fighter
- Little Evidence Pain Creams Work
- 'Mindfulness' Might Help Some Conquer Chronic Pain
- Opioids May Help Chronic Pain, But Not Much
- Physical Therapy Can Help You Avoid Opioids When Joint Pain Strikes
- FDA Approves Powerful New Opioid Despite Criticisms
- Brisk Walks May Help, Not Harm, Arthritic Knees
- 1 in 12 Americans Lives With Debilitating Chronic Pain
- Reduce Weight, Reduce the Arthritic Knee Pain
- A Surgery-Free Fix for Bad Knees?
- After Knee Replacement, Play On
- Stem Cell Clinics Pitch Pricey, Bogus 'Cures' for Knee Pain
- This Weight-Loss Strategy May Not Help Your Knees
- Obesity to Blame for Epidemic of Knee Dislocations, Complications
- Skeletons Give Clues to Americans' Rising Arthritis Rates
- Surgery for ACL Tear Often Successful Over Long Term
- Health Tip: Exercise to Manage Knee Pain
- Studies Spotlight Diet, Supplements for Knee Pain
- Forget Steroid Shots for Long-Term Relief of Arthritic Knees
- New Guidelines Say No to Most 'Keyhole' Knee Surgeries
- Obesity May Not Compromise Knee Surgery Success
- Some Hospitals May Overcharge for Hip, Knee Replacements: Study
- Is Running Bad for Your Knees?
- Knee Cartilage Product Approved to Repair Defects
- Health Tip: Exercise a Painful Knee
- Knee Surgery Rarer, but Problems More Likely, for Minority Patients
- Health Tip: Coping With Knee Arthritis
- New Treatment Shows Promise for Crippling Knee Arthritis
- Many Take Opioids Months After Hip, Knee Replacements
- Pharmacists Can Manage Some Chronic Conditions Effectively, Study Suggests
- Vitamin D a No Go for Arthritic Knees, Study Finds
- Botox-Like Injection Might Ease Runners' Knee Pain
- Weakened Knees a Big Cause of Falls for Older People: Study
- Health Tip: Using a Knee Brace
- MRI Can Spot Early Signs of Knee Arthritis: Study
- More Americans Getting Knees Replaced, And at Younger Ages
- Knee Replacement May Ease Pain for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients
- Health Tip: Exercise Your Knees After Injury
- Study Questions Value of Arthroscopic Knee Surgery for Older Patients
- Health Tip: Exercising With Knee Problems
- Painful Knee Arthritis May Be Linked to Premature Death
- 'Ground Zero' Workers at Risk of Autoimmune Diseases: Study
- Knee Pain While Using Stairs May Be First Sign of Arthritis
- Knee Arthritis Drugs Beat Placebos, but Study Finds No Clear Winner
- FDA Approves Injectable Device for Back, Leg Pain
- Running Won't Raise Risk of Knee Arthritis, Study Says
- Health Tip: Feeling Weak in the Knee?
- Acupuncture May Not Help Chronic Knee Pain, Study Finds
- Study Questions Value of Certain Knee Surgeries
- Can 6,000 Steps a Day Keep Knee Arthritis at Bay?
- Drinking Milk May Slow Knee Arthritis in Women, Study Finds
- Weight-Loss Surgery Might Help Mild Knee Pain
- Knee Ligament Tears Don't Permanently Sideline Most College Football Players
- Knee Surgery May Put Kids at Higher Risk for Future Arthritis
- Knee Pain May Not Be Helped by Glucosamine
- Shoe Inserts Don't Help Arthritic Knee Pain: Study
- Knee Shape May Predict Who'll Benefit From ACL Surgery, Study Says
- Knee Replacement Often Beneficial for Rheumatoid Arthritis: Study
- Sugar Injections for Knee Arthritis May Ease Pain: Study
- Therapy as Good as Surgery for Some With Torn Knee Cartilage
- Weight Gain a Risk After Knee Replacement, Study Finds
- Vitamin D Doesn't Improve Knee Arthritis, Study Finds
- Too Much or Too Little Activity Can Spur Knee Problems
- Exercise Can Help Knee Pain if You Stick With It
- U.S. Sees a Run on New Knees Since 1990s
- Knee, Hip Replacements Don't Help People Lose Weight: Study
- Health Tip: When Your Knee is Unstable
- More Than 4 Million Americans Have New Knee
- Knee Arthritis: Very Low-Calorie Diet May Help
- Knee Pain Plagues Many Women Over 50
- Supplement May Ease Pain of Hand Osteoarthritis
- Help for Women Runners With Knee Pain
- Flip-Flops, Flat Shoes Relieve Arthritic Knees
- Brief Meditation Training Brings Pain Relief
- Electromagnetic Pulses May Stem Arthritic Knee Pain
- Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
- Strong Thighs May Mean Less Knee Pain for Women
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