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Common knee symptoms

Common knee symptoms include -

Knee pain

Knee pain coming on after injury -

  • if the knee pain was agonising initially after injury and is continuing - it might be a 'fracture' (bone break). A fall onto the knee may shatter the kneecap (patellar fracture). Another important fracture is a 'tibial plateau fracture'.
  • if the knee pain was agonising initially after injury, was associated with a loud 'pop' and marked swelling, but the pain tended to ease later - consider that there might be a 'ligament tear', for example a cruciate ligament
  • if the knee pain was severe initially after injury, with continuing pain in the joint line - consider that you might have torn a meniscus

Knee pain coming out without any injury -

  • persistent pain over the front of knee coming on without any injury - may be due to a problem with the 'kneecap, hip or spine'
  • persistent pain at back of knee coming on without any injury - may be due to a 'Baker's cyst'
  • persistent gnawing pain, worse at night - could be 'arthritis'

Noises in the knee

Knee noises at time of injury -

  • a loud pop or crack at the time of injury - suggests a 'ligament or meniscus tear'
  • a loud crack with severe pain and immediate swelling - might be a 'fracture' (bone break)

Knee noises during ordinary activities -

  • if crunchy noises on bending - it might be related to the 'kneecap'
  • if there is a pop in certain position - think 'normal, or old meniscus tear or discoid meniscus'

Knee swelling

Knee swollen immediately after injury -

  • if extensive, tense, painful - there could be 'blood in the joint (haemarthrosis), with internal damage'
  • if localized, tense, painful - it could be a bursa bleed'

Knee swollen during ordinary activities -

  • if severe, painful - think 'rheumatoid condition or infection' (an emergency)
  • if persistent - it could be 'internal damage or arthritis'
  • if recurrent - think 'rheumatoid condition'

Knee instability

With injury -

  • if immediate, unable to continue activity - it might be a 'ligament tear' (collateral/cruciate)

No injury -

Knee locking

  • if completely locked - it could be a 'bucket handle tear of meniscus, big loose body'
  • if intermittent catching - it could be a small 'loose body, plica, kneecap subluxation'

Knee deformity

  • if sudden painful deformity - it could be a 'kneecap dislocation, or it could be blood in the joint'
  • if sudden crippling gross deformity - think 'total knee dislocation'
  • if slow onset - it might be 'arthritis'
Updated: 15 Apr, 2013
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