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Knee Pain: Diagnosing a Complex Joint

Knee Pain: Diagnosing a Complex Joint

Knee pain may come from within the knee, behind the knee, laterally, in the kneecap and behind the knee, emanating from all kinds of situations and circumstances. Our three-phase knee protocol at Montvale Health Sport + Spine is a thorough way of dealing with a complex joint with so many diagnosable and treatable sources of pain. It all begins with consultation and, from there, a thorough exam by a board-certified physician who has the option of x-raying the joint. This is not a task for the faint of heart or lightly experienced, but as with any issue that throws a wrench into the marvelous machinery of the human body, the diagnosis may be simple or it may require a multidisciplinary team to diagnose and subsequently treat.

We encounter dozens of types of knee pain, including those that might require something beyond physical therapy. Then again, PT is always on the other side of surgery as part of the healing process. Knee pain may depend on the activity. It may only occur when you are running, ascending the stairs or kneeling. The symptom leads to the treatment, and we often as not determine the symptoms from the consultation. After all, you know when and where it hurts.

Then again, there are so many kinds of knee pain and corresponding issues that you’ll see why it is so important to get the diagnosis right to correct, or at least minimize, its negative impact on your life.

Following are examples of what we mean:

Locked Knee

You can’t straighten or bend your leg because something is interfering with the movement of the joint. Something may be stuck in the joint or there may be related symptoms.

Swollen Knee

There are multiple causes of this symptom. If the examination doesn’t reveal it, the x-ray will.

Burning Knee

This symptom is likely swelling inside the knee joint causing a burning sensation that may be nerve-related or an early arthritis warning.

Knee Pain when Sitting

Prolonged periods of inactivity are a common cause of knee pain, such as sitting at your desk at the office for an extended period of time daily. It may hurt after you’ve been sitting for some time or when you stand up. In either case, you may find the joint has stiffened when you walk away.

Hyperextended Knee

Your knee joint bends too far backwards. It may be due to injury or overuse, resulting in the overextension of ligaments. It may also be a more puzzling ongoing condition.

Snap-Crackle-Pop Knee

Also known as noisy knee due to clicking, crackling, popping and grinding. Pain is usually a companion of this condition— often a sharp one depending on the source of the snap, crackle or pop. And speaking of this kind of knee pain…

Sharp and Sudden Knee Pain

It could be a nerve, tissue or bone problem. There might be a floating bone chip that gets you squealing in pain when it settles in a particularly sensitive part of the joint. Then again, it could be arthritis, bursitis, a cartilage tear or an injury to a soft tissue, the most common culprit for this sharp and short pain.

Nocturnal Knee Pain

It wakes you up at night and seems to hurt most when you are doing the least. The cause may run the gamut from inflammation and arthritis to gout or just overdoing it the previous day.

You get the idea, and that’s only a sampling of the different symptoms exhibited by ailing or injured knees. The extent of the pain does not always correspond with the seriousness of the problem, and that’s why you need to be certain before moving ahead with the treatment.


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