Your painful knee - due to knee injury or something else?

The crucially important information - sudden knee injury or just onset of pain one is hard pressed to put an exact time to.

When a young girl gets dislocated knee cap, there is no actual injury, but the onset is very sudden, indicating mechanical derangement rather than the onset of inflammation.

Most times a blow to the leg or a twist on the knee is involved, and the pain started right then.

It is largely true that in the absence of a definite injury history, knee pain will not be coming from the knee itself.
This is often true even when an X-ray shows osteoarthritis of the knee.

Knee swelling after injury

Swelling of your knee joint itself is seen above and at the sides of your knee cap.

It is very useful to know how long after the injury it first swelled up.

Swelling within one hour suggests bleeding into the joint cavity, due to such things as cruciate tear or ostechondral fracture of a femoral condyle.

Swelling appearing later is an effusion into the joint, due to less severe injuries.

Someone asked about the pros and cons of draining fluid from the knee.

I use this frequently, to help diagnose and help treat knee conditions.
A little local anaesthetic into the skin and deeper, makes it a pretty painless procedure.
Very careful antiseptic technique is needed, but I've never caused an infection.

The information obtained can be very valuable. Osteochondral fractures can easily be missed on initial x-rays, and only be suspected by finding frank blood in the joint.

Large effusions are very uncomfortable, and also inhibit the quadriceps muscle. Removing most of the fluid, can speed up recovery dramatically.

Knee tenderness after injury

It's worth examining your knee as soon as convenient, after an injury. Later on tenderness may spread, with diffusion of bruising through the tissues.

The methods described on the knee pain page and the patella femoral syndrome page will help to identify the site of the injury.

Medial ligament sprain can cause tenderness even an inch below the medial joint line, at the back edge of the shin bone.

"Diseases" that are really injuries and vice versa

Osgood-Schlatter disease is an injury in children, when a tongue of bone in front of the knee breaks across.

Quadriceps tears in elderly people, are due to weakened tissues just above the knee cap, giving way with little provocation.The same applies to Supraspinatus tears in the shoulder and Tendo Achilles tears at the heel.

Fuzzy semantics besides, it is always worth considering both contributions, of injury and tissue integrity. Unhealthy tissues are more prone to injury.

I often find zinc deficiency contributes to someone hurting themselves.

This consideration applies to apparently healthy people of all ages, and to super fit elite athletes as well. Poor nutrition weakens tissues.

The subsequent story after initial injury

Did the injured football player limp off the field with help, or were they carried off on a stretcher? One doesn't walk off after a cruciate ligament tear.

Has the knee been clicking or even locking up suddenly and unlocking just as suddenly. These symptoms suggest a cartilage tear.

From knee injury page back to start of knee pages

From knee injury page back to the home page

Osteochondral fractures are usually a piece of gristle and its underlying bone sheared off together, lying free in the joint cavity.

Accumulation of excess joint fluid from weeping of the synovial joint lining in inflammation (synovitis) is called an effusion.


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