This site is intended for healthcare professionals.

Knee pain-causes overview

 

History -One or both knees are affected and if other jts are affected Onset , location, duration, severity and quality of the pain Aggravating and relieving factors If pain is persistent or occurs at night ( Night pain may 
indicate tumour , inflammatory arthritis or severe OA ) H/O Swelling including onset Joint stiffness H/O Locking or giving way Crepitus snapping or clicking ( limited value )

ExaminationFull exposure both knees Compare both knees Observe walking , how pt goes from sitting to standing Look for genu valgum or varum Inspection and palpate both knees and surrounding structures 

► Look for erythema , warmth , deformity 
► Swelling → including bony swelling , jt effusion , bursal and soft tissue swelling
► Bony swelling around jt margins → often palpable in OA
► Persistent ↑ ing or unexplained bony swelling-think Tumour
particularly if its away from jt line
► Bruising 
► Quadriceps atrophy and tenderness

 Move the knees by extending and flexing as far as possible 
( N range 0° of extension to 135° of flexion ) Active and passive ROM Ballotment- assessment for effusion Examine ipsilateral hip and lumbar spine ( looking for referred pain ) If needed examine other jts and for regional lymphadenopathy and any 
other signs of infection


Red flags

Infection –Sig swelling appeared acutely over < than 24 hrs One jt affected ( although upto 5th of people with septic arthritis ↑ than 1 jt is affected ) Knee pain severe or in people with pre-existing jt dis ( eg Rh A and OA ) out of proportion to the usual symptoms Fever ( absence does not exclude septic arthritis ) Nausea , vomiting or anorexia Systemically unwell ( common in children ) Risk factors for infection
Knee replacement 
Rh arthritis
IVDU
Immunosuppression ( eg Diabetes, Long term corticosteroid use , alcoholism )
Adjacent skin infection or ulceration

TumourBone tumour , Soft tissue sarcoma , Metastases , Haematological cancer or Neuroblastoma ↑ing , persistent or unexplained bone pain , tenderness , or swelling – especially if it is not in the knee jt itself but adjacent to the knee Pain at night or at rest Unexplained weight loss Previous cancer Sudden onset pain ( can happen in pathological fracture
 , Osteonecrosis ) Any lumps in adult which is 
☼ > than 5 cm in dia
☼ deep to fascia
☼ fixed or immobile
☼ painful
☼ ↑ ing in size

 Children any unexplained mass which shows any such features
☼ deep to the fascia
☼ non – tender
☼ progressively enlarging
☼ associated with a regional lymph node that is enlarging
☼ larger than 2 cm in diameter
☼ recurrence after previous excision



Children and adolescents Patellofemoral pain Patellar subluxation /instability Osgood-Schlatters disease Jumper’s knee ( Patellar tendonitis ) Referred pain →
Slipped capital femoral epiphysis Osteochondritis dissecans Hypermobility syndrome Infalmmatory conditions Tumours Osteomyelitis and septic arthritis Patellar tendonitis Discoid lateral meniscus

AdultsPatellofemoral pain – often bilateral
Most common cause of anterior knee pain Trauma* (cruciate and collateal ligaments sprans , tears) Joint hypermobility syndrome Bursitis Inflammatory arthropathy
Rheumatoid arthritis → typically causes symmetrical synovitis of the small jts of the hands and feet Septic arthritis Early osteoarthritis ( Previous injury ) Medial Plica syndrome

Older adultsOsteoarthritis ( Knees , hips , small jts of the hands – 1st Carpometacarpal jt and interphalengeal jts and 1st Metatarsophalangeal jt commonly affected ) Gout and Pseudogout Baker’s cyst → causes posterior knee pain Referred pain from OA of hip Degenerative menisceal tear Septic arthritis

Anterior knee painPatellar subluxation or dislocation Osgood Schlatters disease Patellar tendonitis Patellofemoral pain syndrome Isolated petallofemoral arthritis

Medial Knee painMedial collateral ligament sprain Medial menisceal tear Bursitis-Pes anserine bursitis Medial plica syndrome Osteoarthritis Osteonecrosis ( rarely )

Lateral Knee PainIliotibial band syndrome Arthritis Lateral collateral ligament sprain Lateral menisceal tear

Bakers cyst Posterior cruciate lig injury

References; Further reading
 Diagnosis and management of soft tissue Knee Injuries Internal Derangements- Best practice evidence based guideline http://www.acc.co.nz/PRD_EXT_CSMP/groups/external_communications/
documents/guide/wcmz002488.pdf Knee pain assessment- http://cks.nice.org.uk/knee-pain-assessment http://www.pathways.scot.nhs.uk/Orthopaedics/PP_Knee_ET2004.pdf Evaluating acutely injured patients for Internal derangement of the Knee http://www.aafp.org/afp/2012/0201/p247.html General practitioners diagnosis and management of acute knee injuries :summary of an evidence based guideline
http://aut.researchgateway.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10292/6052/
Reid-General%20practitioner.pdf?sequence=5 Evaluation of Patients presenting with Knee pain:Part II Differential diagnosis http://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0901/p917.html Evidence-based

Management of Acute Musculoskeletal Pain- A guide for Clinicians https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/
cp95_evidence_based_management_acute_musculoskeletal_pain_clinicians_131223.pdf https://meded.ucsd.edu/clinicalmed/pe_muscskelexam.pdf

Related Topics

Comments - to make a comment on the above chart please log in.


Register

START TYPING AND PRESS ENTER TO SEARCH