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Knee Pain

knee1Knee pain is a common problem that can originate in any of the bony structures compromising the knee joint, the kneecap, or the ligaments and cartilage of the knee. Knee pain can be caused by a sudden injury, an overuse injury, or by an underlying condition, such as arthritis. Treatment will vary depending on the cause. Symptoms of knee injury can include pain, swelling, and stiffness. The prognosis of knee pain is usually good although it might require surgery or other interventions.

Symptoms and signs

With infection, the whole knee might be swollen and painful, while a torn meniscus or fracture of a bone gives symptoms only in one specific location.

Some of the symptoms which may accompany knee pain are

  • difficulty in walking due to instability of the knee
  • locking of the knee (unable to bend the knee)
  • redness and swelling
  • Inability to extend the knee.

Risk factors for knee pain

knee3Biomechanics: The operation of knee joint is complicated. Any small change in the movement of the joint like change in the style of walking due to back problems could result in subtle changes and cause pain and injuries.

Excess weight: Excess weight increases the stress on the knee joint. Obesity increases the risk of osteoarthritis.


The doctor will expect the patient to provide details on their general health and nature of the knee pain (how long, how severe, does anything make it feel better or worse, etc.). An examination of the knee will include bending the knee through the full range of motion, checking for stability of the ligaments, and evaluating for any tenderness and swelling. This is all that is required to make a diagnosis and start treatment. Sometimes the doctor might want to do further studies with a few tests.

Radiologic tests

While X-ray can establish fractures and degenerative changes of the knee, a CT scan can take a closer look at bone problems in the knee. MRI is used to evaluate the soft tissues for ligament tears or cartilage and muscle injuries.

Blood tests

If gout, arthritis or other medical conditions are suspected, the doctor might look at the blood tests.

Removal of joint fluid: A small needle is placed into the joint and fluid is withdrawn. This is done in a sterile method. The fluid is then sent to the laboratory for evaluation. This procedure is helpful if an infected knee joint is suspected. It is also used to distinguish gout and different forms of arthritis.


knee2Treatments for knee pain are as varied as the conditions that can cause the pain. Medications might be prescribed to treat an underlying medical condition or for pain relief. Sometimes strengthening the muscles around the knee will make it more stable. This can help avoid injuries or further worsening of an injury.Injecting medications directly into the knee might help in certain situations.


Knee surgeries may range from arthroscopic knee surgery to total knee replacement. The surgeon can repair many of the injuries and remove small pieces of loose bones or cartilage. This is a common outpatient procedure. In partial knee replacement, damaged portions of the knee are replaced with plastic and metal parts. In total knee replacement the knee is replaced with an artificial joint. It requires a major surgery and hospitalization.


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