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Author Topic: What do painful "catches" in the knee mean?  (Read 4083 times)

Offline Nancy T

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What do painful "catches" in the knee mean?
« on: November 22, 2006, 05:09:53 AM »
I get "catches" in my right knee that are often painful, occasionally not. From reading a bit, I wonder if it's a meniscal tear? (Haven't seen a doctor yet but thinking seriously of it!)

I injured this knee 16 years ago when I went to hang curtains and stood on the arm of an armchair (real smart) that tipped over with me. I landed on the floor with excruciating knee pain for a couple of minutes, then got up and found I could move the knee forward and backward, so decided it wasn't "broken" and didn't see a doctor, to avoid paying my deductible!

The  next day and for a month afterward it was very stiff and moderately painful, as I remember. For many months afterward, the knee would "catch" when walking, going up or down stairs, etc.

In the last few years (I'm now 49) it began "catching" painfully again--momentary catches, especially when turning during ordinary moving around (I don't do sports but do regular moderate walking for exercise, am about 50 lbs overweight). The pain would be momentary or last no more than 30 seconds probably, and sometimes there would be no pain but still a very distinct catching feeling, usually below the kneecap on the inside (medial side?). It never locks up completely.

Months could go by without any "catches" and then they'd start up again for no apparent reason, numerous times a day.

So on Oct. 17 I slipped on the stairs--right foot slipped forward and down a few stairs; I landed on my rear as I broke my fall with my right arm holding the railing. I don't remember the knee specifically hurting at that moment, but some slight discomfort later in the evening but nothing to make me think I'd injured it.

In the following week I began having more of the "catches" again, and ten days after the fall I was having aching pain on the sides of the knee when I'd sleep on my side at night, and a lot of sudden sharp pains and catches when walking or taking stairs. The very sharp pains would subside after a few slow, careful steps, but I had some stiffness in the knee and overall soreness and would just get sudden sharp pains from slight knee movement sometimes even when sitting.

The sharp pains and soreness--and sometimes tenderness to touch, though no visible swelling--are mostly in the "four corners"--above and below the kneecap, right and left of it. Mostly below, on one side or the other. A few times I had sharp pains behind the knee too. It just feels as if various muscles or tendons or bones or SOMETHING around the whole knee are variably sore, out of place, suddenly hurting and then subsiding, etc.

Another thing that happens is that I'll be walking along fine when suddenly I feel a weird movement on the inside (medial?) part of the knee as if it's about to "slip out of place" that is not quite a "catch," but I definitely have to stop and slowly extend and flex the knee a few times to get it feeling completely "back in place" and continue walking without fear of it "catching" painfully.

And I swear that the right kneecap gets out of whack when I'm lying on my side at night. I will wake up and when I try to turn over or straighten the knee (when sleeping on my side I bend my knees up a little and put a pillow between them), it's painful and slow, as if something has to get back into place there. As if gravity had pulled my kneecap downward to the left or right, depending on which side I'm sleeping on.

I'm not double-jointed or anything, although a neurologist wrote in his report that I have "some laxity in the interpharengeal joints" (I'm sure I spelled that wrong, but he'd wiggled the joints of my ring finger). I have lumbar scoliosis too, but it hasn't caused me any problems and my hips are even. A bit bow-legged like my grandmother.

The left (uninjured) knee has also had "catches" in the past, but not nearly as much as the right knee. Oddly, my left elbow has had episodes of the same kind of painful catches, and my right wrist too (such as when turning a key in the ignition).

I have always thought this would clear up on its own, was due to being overweight, wasn't worth seeing a doctor about, etc. because "everything always turns out to be nothing." The knee is considerably better than it was three weeks ago (when I began wearing an elastic brace with open kneecap, at least until the itching drives me crazy), but it still has some pain and I'm always fearful of more "catches."

After that long-winded history, can any knowledgeable folks here tell me what the differential diagnosis of "catches" in the knee is? Is it necessary to see a doctor if I can still walk normally, if a bit tentatively? I do have good insurance, but in the past 7 years I've had a lot of strange unexplained symptoms including dizziness and hearing loss (may be a mild autoimmune or neurological disease), and I'm afraid of being thought a middle-aged female hypochondriac if I show up with variable knee pain in multiple locations that isn't really impairing my ability to walk. With no swelling, I'm guessing the doctor would not find anything physically wrong and be inclined to think I'm "overreacting" (it's a prejudice we middle-aged women are highly subject to). However, this past month's episode has been much worse than any previous ones, and I've never before had the "nighttime kneecap slipping."

If wearing the brace (as much as I can stand it), being careful not to twist the knee suddenly, and taking Advil are keeping the problem under control, and the whole thing is improving partially, do I really need to see a doctor (that is, would they likely advise me to do anything different than I'm doing now), or should I simply wait longer, keep trying to lose weight, and see if it goes away?

Thanks much for any info or advice,

Nancy T.
P.S. Maybe I should have posted this in the general forum?
« Last Edit: November 22, 2006, 05:43:17 AM by Nancy T »

Offline jtroc67

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Re: What do painful "catches" in the knee mean?
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2006, 07:30:59 PM »
Hi Nancy,

It sounds like it is probably the meniscus or at least cartilage-related.  A thorough physical exam by an orthopaedist who specializes in knees and an MRI is in order.  They may find that you have a bucket handle tear of the posterior horn or something that can be easily fixed via arthroscopic surgery.

Let us know how it goes with the OS!

-JT
PFS in right knee since 3/27/05
Grade III Chondromalacia diagnosed 7/18/05
Chondroplasty and meniscus repair 2/2/06
Partial medial meniscetomy, chondroplasty & scar tisssue removal 1/17/08

Offline Nancy T

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Re: What do painful "catches" in the knee mean?
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2006, 08:07:53 PM »
Thank you, JT! "Easily fixed" would be lovely. :)

I agree that I really need to see a doctor, because this has been going on so long in one form or another.

Nancy

Offline celinenj03

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Re: What do painful "catches" in the knee mean?
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2006, 11:14:56 PM »
Hmmm.... I get this occasionally but not painful sometimes just "tweaky" and my joint is clean as I've had pretty much the works done, so it could very well not be anything too serious. I hope you get an answer soon. Try not to worry.
Terrible Triad - 1/16/06 - Basketball
3/15/06 - Scope/Cleanout of to achieve full ROM
5/3/06 - Surgery-ACL Reconstruction-Allograft
9/12/07 - Large Loose body removed;Grade 4 Lesion on LFC
9/17/08-Microfracture, Lateral Release (all right knee)

Offline Nancy T

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Re: What do painful "catches" in the knee mean?
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2006, 06:53:58 PM »
Thanks, Celine... sometimes my "catches" are not painful, but much more often they are.

It does sound like you've had quite a time with your knee(s)! I can't imagine having knee trouble when having to run after 6- and 3-year olds! :) (Mine are in college now--all they need from Mom is for me to send a check, which is less exhausting! :) )

Thanks,

Nancy

Offline L. Thomas.net

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Re: What do painful "catches" in the knee mean?
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2006, 04:35:20 AM »
If there is pain, there is a problem..see someone that knows what they are doing...pain is progressive

I was always afraid I was being a "wuzz" when I went in the office...never was

Women are usually in a lot of pain before they finally "give in"....

My OS says women don't come for fun, they come for business.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2006, 04:39:04 AM by L. Thomas.net »
Mulitple Knee surgeries/ TKA: 06  
Left Hip femoroplasty : 08   
Post Op- TKAinTN 06: http://www.kneeguru.co.uk/KNEEtalk/index.php?topic=33906.

Offline Nancy T

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Re: What do painful "catches" in the knee mean?
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2006, 07:09:28 PM »
Thanks for the reply, L. Thomas... in my case, the pain is NOT progressive except in the sense of having had no problems for many years and now having sporadic problems.

The bad episode I had last month has resolved almost completely. I'm now just getting a FEW small, only slightly painful catches a week (pretty much back to my "normal" situation), with almost as many in the left (uninjured) knee as the right. It varies so much.

But I know I still really should see a doctor about it.

Best of luck to everyone,

Nancy


Offline L. Thomas.net

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Re: What do painful "catches" in the knee mean?
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2006, 07:36:21 PM »
Thanks for the reply, L. Thomas... in my case, the pain is NOT progressive except in the sense of having had no problems for many years and now having sporadic problems.

The bad episode I had last month has resolved almost completely. I'm now just getting a FEW small, only slightly painful catches a week (pretty much back to my "normal" situation), with almost as many in the left (uninjured) knee as the right. It varies so much.

But I know I still really should see a doctor about it.

Best of luck to everyone,

Nancy


If your knee problem is related to an injury you might want to find an OS that works with sports meidicne.  The "rice crispy knee" in my case didn't get worse for a long time, but it was messed up cart.( I knew all along that I had big cart. and ACL problems, I just didn't think it was bad enough to see anyone. 

I injured it in 1968 and I didn't go in until 1998.  I wouldn't have problems with my other knee if I hadn't overcomensated all these years.  There might have been things I could have done that would have hleped.  Now I need a TKA on that knee too (in the future)...it is already too bad for a partial. I'll listen to them this time and not put it off so long.
Mulitple Knee surgeries/ TKA: 06  
Left Hip femoroplasty : 08   
Post Op- TKAinTN 06: http://www.kneeguru.co.uk/KNEEtalk/index.php?topic=33906.

Offline Nancy T

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Re: What do painful "catches" in the knee mean?
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2006, 01:57:58 AM »
I don't know what a TKA is, but it sounds bad! Total knee... ? Sorry you have had so much trouble.

You waited 20 years to see a doctor after your injury!? Well, I guess that makes my 16 years not sound quite so bad! :)

Thanks for the advice to try to see a sports medicine doctor. I will ask my PCP if she recommends someone, as I haven't the foggiest. I see there is a knee clinic in my area and plenty of sports medicine clinics, but I don't know whether they take self-referrals nor which is the best.

I am overweight (50 lbs) and bowlegged (hereditary) and my right ankle (same side as the knee) rolls inward such that my posterior tibial tendon began having trouble 7 years ago--I've had to wear orthotic shoe inserts and anti-pronating shoes since then. I have wondered whether there was any connection, but who knows.

My knee does make "Rice Krispy" sounds when I bend it, at least sometimes, but very little, because I only hear it when the house is 100 percent quiet, like when I first get up, and only if I'm listening for it. I always thought that was normal.

Nancy


knee deep in Goo

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Re: What do painful "catches" in the knee mean?
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2006, 12:28:51 PM »
This is my two cents.. Ofcourse not a medical person at all.   

You may have tears in your meniscus.   You should see a orthopedic sports medicine doctor.   If you need to see your GP for a referral .. That should be your starting point.   Once at the OS he will examine your knee. Take xrays. maybe send you for an MRI.    He may suggest PT  the most conservative route.  Some anti inflamitories.  maybe a cortizone shot. ..  He may say wait a month .. and than a follow up..  Or  he may say .. he would like to scope your knee.     Rice crispy sounds to me....  in my laywomans view means OA.

If your in pain..   Rest, Ice, Compression stocking/Ace bandage/ eleavate it.

Your GP may give you something to help calm the pain


I can say let your pain levels guide you..

Offline Nancy T

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Re: What do painful "catches" in the knee mean?
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2006, 07:20:58 PM »
"Knee-Deep"--thanks for the information & advice! :)

L.Thomas--oh, I see my math was bad; that was THIRTY years you waited to see a doctor! Wow.

Nancy

 















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