What are the Symptoms of Knee Pain?

Knee pain can cause many different types of symptoms.

Symptoms of Knee Pain – Arthritis 

Typical symptoms for arthritis are pain that is worse in the morning but then gets better as you walk around.

Arthritis also causes variable amounts of swelling of the knee depending on activities and severity of the arthritis.

Symptoms of Knee Pain – Meniscus Cartilage Tear 

Someone with a medial or lateral meniscus cartilage tear of the knee usually have symptoms of swelling, pain and may have catching or locking of the knee.

Locking is when the knee cannot fully extend all the way straight and this may be because the torn cartilage is trapped between the bones. This can be very painful and dangerous because the leg may give out and buckle.

Falling down is not only embarrassing, but you can make the knee worse or even fracture your wrist or injure your back.

Symptoms of Knee Pain – Torn ACL

The knee pain symptoms from a torn ACL can be acute or chronic. When the ACL first tears, typically you will hear a “pop” and the knee will swell within a few hours.

Chronic symptoms from a torn ACL are the leg feels loose and you cannot pivot without the leg giving out. Sports such as basketball, football, and soccer become difficult or impossible with a torn ACL.

Symptoms of Knee Pain – Tear of the Quadriceps or Patellar Tendon

Symptoms of knee pain from a tear of the quadriceps or patellar tendon are the inability to lift the leg up and extend the knee.

If you cannot lift your leg up (do a straight-leg raise), you need to see an orthopedic surgeon ASAP.

If the quads or patellar tendon are torn, this will need to be fixed rather quickly.

Symptoms of Knee Pain – Mild Pain

If the knee pain you are having is mild, it is always important to put on ice on it immediately. Be careful not to freeze the skin, but cooling the area prevents swelling and bleeding and will lead to a faster recovery. If the swelling and pain are not getting better after a few days, see your orthopedic doctor.

Dr. Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. He is the Director of Orthopedic Surgery at Westchester Health Associates and has subspecialty training in knee and shoulder surgery, including minimally invasive surgery and arthroscopy. Dr. Weinstein is a Board Examiner for the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons, determining certification for other orthopedic surgeons.