For many with knee pain, it can be difficult to determine the symptoms of soreness or overexertion, and those symptoms may indicate something more serious. Below is a helpful guide to determine when it may be time to have your knee examined by an orthopedic specialist.
1. Your knee catches or locks up
If you have catching or locking going from sitting to standing, or bending your knees, it may be a sign of cartilage degeneration in your kneecap or even a meniscal tear. Usually, pain and locking is felt on the front of the knee when it is your kneecap and on either side of the knee when it is a meniscal tear. It is important to have this condition addressed as cartilage degeneration is progressive and can result in increased pain and weakness.
2. Your knee gives out
The knee giving out, or buckling, is a non-specific reflex of the quadriceps muscle that occurs when the knee is in a painful position and the quadriceps muscle releases causing the knee to buckle. Several conditions can cause the knee to give out and it is important to have the specific cause diagnosed by an orthopedic specialist to start the appropriate treatment for this painful condition.
One of the most common reasons this occurs is due to patellofemoral problems (problems between the knee cap and the thigh bone). In other cases, buckling of the knee can be caused by instability of the kneecap due to repeated dislocations of the kneecap. Another cause of buckling can be from instability caused by ligament injuries such as an ACL tear.
3. Pain is radiating to the back of your knee
Pain in the back of the knee can be something that happens immediately after a traumatic injury or something that progresses over time. The pain usually gets worse when walking, running, squatting or climbing stairs. Several conditions can cause this type of pain and include arthritic conditions, tears of the back of the meniscus or, in some cases, from a large Bakers Cyst that forms in the back of the knee.
Assessment by an orthopedic surgeon can diagnose the problem causing the pain and tailor a treatment plan that is specific for the problem.