Knee pain is a common problem that can originate in any of the bony structures compromising the knee joint (femur, tibia, fibula), the kneecap (patella), or the ligaments and cartilage (meniscus) of the knee. Knee pain can affect people of all ages, and home remedies can be helpful unless it becomes severe. The location of the knee pain can vary depending on which structure is involved. With infection or an inflammatory process, the whole knee might be swollen and painful, while a torn meniscus or fracture of a bone gives symptoms only in one specific location. The severity of the pain can vary, from a minor ache to a severe and disabling pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that can affect any joint in the body. It can cause severe pain and disability, as well as swelling. Gout is a form of arthritis that is most commonly found in the big toe, though it can also affect the knee. With septic arthritis (infectious arthritis), the knee joint can become infected; this leads to pain, swelling, and fever. This condition requires antibiotics and drainage treatments as soon as possible.
Chronic use/overuse conditions:
Patellar tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons connecting the kneecap (patella) to the bone of the lower leg. Patellar tendinitis is a chronic condition often found in individuals repeating the same motion (such as runners and cyclists). Osteoarthritis: A wearing down of cartilage of the joint due to use and age
Other causes: Children can develop inflammation of the point of bony insertion of the patellar tendon (Osgood-Schlatter disease). Some of the other findings that accompany knee pain are difficulty walking due to instability of the knee, limping due to discomfort, difficulty walking up or down steps due to ligament damage, locking of the knee (unable to bend the knee), redness and swelling, inability to extend the knee.
Imaging tests can allow your doctor to see inside your joint painlessly. The most common imaging tests to diagnose knee problems are:
X-ray (radiography). A standard X-ray is a simple test in which an X-ray beam (a form of electromagnetic radiation) is passed through the knee to create a two-dimensional picture of the bones that form the joint. Your doctor can use X-rays to view:
• Joint alignment. Problems with alignment can cause or worsen arthritis-related changes in the joint.
• Joint space. Narrowing of the space between the two bones, which are normally covered by cartilage, can be a sign of arthritis and its severity.
• Bone spurs. Bony overgrowths at the joint are a sign of osteoarthritis.
Computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan. Also called a computed tomography (or CT) scan, this noninvasive test combines X-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images of the knee. The computer can combine the individual images to create a three-dimensional view of the knee. CT scans show soft tissues such as ligaments and muscles more clearly than traditional X-rays, so they are more useful for diagnosing certain knee problems, such as a torn meniscus.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This procedure uses a strong magnet linked to a computer to create a picture of the knee joint in black and white and shades of gray. Because an MRI shows the soft tissues as well as the bones, it is particularly useful for diagnosing injuries to the cartilage, tendons, ligaments tendons and menisci, as well as areas of swelling.