Knee Pain

Causes and Common Symptoms of Knee Pain

Many people experience knee pain at some point during their lives. Knee pain can be caused by injuries or by other conditions, such as arthritis. Your symptoms can tell your doctor a lot about what may be causing your knee pain.


In addition to the knee pain patients report to their doctors, you may also experience:

• Weakness and instability
• Inability to straighten out your knee
• Crunching or popping noises
• Swelling
• Stiffness
• Skin redness or warmth

If you’re in severe pain, or you experience some of the following symptoms, give your doctor a call:

• A fever, knee pain, swelling, and redness
• Obvious knee deformity
• Your knee can’t bear weight, or it feels like it “gives out”

What Causes Knee Pain?

A sore knee is typically caused by arthritis, injury, or a biomechanical problem. Arthritis causes the cartilage within the knee joint to wear down and, when bone rubs on bone, your knee hurts. Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear, while rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an immune system disorder. You could also have gout, which causes uric acid to build up in the knee.

In many cases, a knee injury causes significant pain. People sometimes injure their knees while playing sports or lifting heavy objects. These activities may cause an ACL tear or a torn meniscus. Obesity or repeated stressors, such as running or repetitive stress, can wear out the knee joint or cause pain from bursitis or tendinitis.

Sometimes, you may experience biomechanical problems related to your knee joint. For example, you may dislocate your kneecap. If you’re feeling hip and leg pain, you may change the way you walk, which can stress your knee joint. Also, injuries can cause a loose piece of cartilage or bone to break off inside your knee joint, causing knee pain and restricted movement. Finally, tightening tendons caused by running can start to rub against the thighbone, causing pain.

Contact Northstar Healthcare at to see whether minimally invasive surgery could help your knee pain.

Diagnosing Knee Pain and Creating a Treatment Plan

Diagnosing knee pain usually requires a physical exam and may require imaging tests and blood work. Once doctors determine the cause of knee pain, they can treat the underlying problem.

What to Expect at Your Doctor’s Appointment

When your appointment begins, your doctor will review your medical history. You should tell your doctor about any injury that triggered your knee pain. Your doctor may also ask you about arthritis or other conditions that cause the knee pain patients often feel. Tell your doctor about the characteristics of your pain. These may include:

• Where your knee hurts (front, back, sides)
• Whether the sore knee came on gradually or rapidly
• How it feels (achy, dull, sharp)
• How long you’ve had pain
• How severe the pain is
• Which activities make knee pain worse
• Any sounds like popping or clicking
• Whether your knee locks up or gives out

Then, your doctor will perform a physical examination. The exam starts with an inspection of your knee. Next, your doctor may ask you to lie down on your back and try to extend your knee. He or she may move your knee around to test your range of motion and look for misalignment.

If you have signs of infection, your doctor may recommend blood work. Also, certain imaging studies can help doctors to see the cause of your knee pain. X-rays can show degenerating joints and bone fractures, while MRI can show injuries to cartilage, tendons, muscles, or ligaments. Some doctors perform an ultrasound, during which they move the knee around to check its interior appearance in real time.

Knee Pain Treatment

Your doctor will likely recommend over-the-counter pain relievers for your hurt knee, including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen. If these medications don’t help, your doctor may prescribe a stronger medication.

Physical therapy can strengthen the muscles that stabilize your knee, and injecting medication into the joint can relieve severe pain. Contact Northstar Healthcare at to schedule a consultation and discuss your options.

Minimally Invasive Knee Pain Surgery

Improved surgical techniques may be able to relieve knee pain with less pain and faster rehabilitation time. Also, most knee pain operations can be performed without general anesthesia.

Types of Knee Pain Surgery

Surgeons usually perform arthroscopic knee surgery to relieve the knee pain patients like you are feeling. With just a few small incisions around your knee, doctors can maneuver tiny fiber-optic cameras and surgical instruments into your knee joint. Using these tools, they can often repair torn cartilage, fix torn ligaments, or remove any loose bone or cartilage pieces that are causing knee pain.

If some parts of your knee are too damaged to repair, your surgeon may perform a partial knee replacement. Doctors use small incisions to replace the most damaged knee parts with substitute parts made of plastic or metal. In many cases, you’ll be released after one night in the hospital, but recovery and return to work will take more time.

A complete knee replacement is more complex. Doctors remove all of the damaged knee parts, while also cutting away portions of your thigh and shinbones. A total knee replacement requires a more lengthy hospital stay, including physical therapy to prevent post-operative knee pain.

What to Expect Before and After Surgery

Before surgery, doctors will perform lab tests to make sure that your kidneys and other organs are functioning normally. If you’re taking certain medications, like blood thinners, your doctor may either adjust or discontinue them.

Arthroscopic surgery generally doesn’t require general anesthesia, and it can usually be performed on an outpatient basis. Make sure someone drives you to and from the surgery center, and arrange for some help around the house after the procedure because you’ll have a sore knee.

Carefully follow your discharge instructions, and schedule outpatient physical therapy to strengthen your muscles.

Northstar Healthcare offers minimally invasive knee pain surgery. These techniques often deliver faster recovery and less post-operative pain. Contact us today.