What Causes Knee Pain?

Knee pain is one of the most common reasons to visit an orthopedic surgeon. As the orthopedic surgeon treating you for your knee pain we first must determine what is causing your knee pain.

Once was have a cause, or in medical terms a diagnosis then we can tailor a treatment for your pain.

To better understand the causes of knee pain, we can categorize the causality into two categories: Traumatic causes of knee pain and non- traumatic causes.


Traumatic Causes of Knee Pain

People frequently come to see me with knee pain after they have sustained an injury, or a trauma to their knee.

Injuries that I see occur either by a simple slip in fall onto the knee, a twisting injury during sports or athletic activities, or during car accidents or accidents at work.

The first step to determine what part of the knee was injured is a thorough injury history and physical examination of the knee.

The vast majority of knee injuries can be diagnosed with a history and physical exam performed by a well-trained and experience orthopedic surgeon.

To confirm the diagnosis, many times we will obtain imaging of the knee.

This includes an X-ray or, in some cases, an MRI. With all this information a correct diagnosis is made and the knee pain can be treated.

The most common causes of knee pain sustained after trauma include: contusions, knee ligament sprains or ruptures, injuries to the cartilage of knee, meniscus injuries, and fractures.


Non-Traumatic Causes of Knee Pain

A large proportion of patients with knee pain report that there was no significant injury to their knee that they can remember.

Many times these patients report that their knee pain began months or years ago, but they have just now reached a point when the pain in their knee is starting to affect their life.

Also, there are some patients who come to the office, who did not have an injury but report waking up one morning with severe pain in their knee.

As with traumatic causes of knee pain, finding the correct diagnosis begins with a well taken history of the pain, and then a thorough physical examination of the knee.

Following this, imaging of the knee will also be obtained.

If the pain in the knee is accompanied by other systemic symptoms like fevers or chills, sometimes blood work will be obtained, or the knee fluid will be collected for further examination.

The most common cause of non traumatic knee pain is Osteoarthritis of the knee.  However, knee infections, or crystalline arthropathies (like gout), must be ruled out.

If you have fever, chills, and a hot swollen knee, it may be infected and you should seek orthopedic consultation as soon as possible.

If you’re experiencing knee pain, schedule an appointment to see the orthopedic doctors at Westchester Sport and Spine for an accurate diagnoses.

Dr. Michael Gott is a Westchester orthopedic surgeon who is fellowship trained in sports medicine. He has also been an active member of the National Ski Patrol as well as a Member of the Windham Mountain Ski Patrol for 18 years.