One of the first questions I sometimes hear from people who have knee pain is: Doc, do you think it is arthritis? The answer is, invariably, please tell me more about your pain. There are many causes of knee pain and arriving at an accurate diagnosis begins with a full, comprehensive medical history and physical examination. Osteoarthritis is one of the more common causes of knee pain in people over the age of 55. However, there are many other potential causes in this population of people as well. For example, knee pain can be due to:
Ø A meniscus tear
Ø A ligament tear, sprain, or strain
Ø Malalignment of the patella (knee cap) leading to pain beneath the patella
Ø And these are just a few....
The fact is that there are a plethora of causes of knee pain. That is why it is so important to have a doctor evaluate your knee if it is hurting. Knee pain secondary to osteoarthritis generally feels stiff in the morning and gets better as you warm up. The pain generally hurts with going up and down stairs and with prolonged walking. Sitting for a prolonged period of time usually leads to an achy feeling in the knee. However, as I have discussed in previous blogs, these symptoms could also be caused by other pathologies that need a doctor's attention.
A doctor will perform a comprehensive medical evaluation that will help pinpoint the cause of your symptoms. And, sometimes, multiple problems may be occurring at the same time. For example, a patient may have a dull ache in the knee for years but never get checked out. Then, one day they twist the knee and suffer a new meniscus tear. The doctor will then find that the patient has osteoarthritis and a meniscal tear contributing to the symptoms. Your best bet is always to get checked out by your doctor so you can arrive at an accurate diagnosis, which is the most important step towards a comprehensive treatment plan.