Knee Pain

Overview

What Is Knee Pain?

Knee pain is a common condition affecting a wide range of people. Pain in knees can result from an injury, an infection or a medical condition such as arthritis.

Treatment for knee pain depends on its cause and how severe the pain is. Our orthopedic specialists can offer personalized treatment plans – including surgical and non-surgical options – after a physical examination and assessment.

The Aurora Difference

Our Specialized Knee Pain Treatment

At Aurora, our orthopedists are committed to providing compassionate care for knee pain. We offer:

  • Emphasis on prevention: A healthy, active lifestyle can help you prevent knee pain and painful joints. Our primary care doctors can help you maintain orthopedic wellness and prevent injuries at every age.
  • One of the largest health care providers in Wisconsin: If your knee pain becomes serious, your doctor can immediately refer you to the right specialists and resources. That’s because our large team of experts is connected by a single, fully integrated health system.
  • Seamless chain of care: Whether you need orthopedic specialists, primary care doctors, integrative medicine providers, physical therapists or a combination approach, our providers work together to give you the best care possible.
  • Top-tier specialists: Our expert team includes over 70 orthopedic surgeons, many of whom are fellowship trained. This team sees many people for orthopedic care and joint replacement surgery, which translates to deep experience in treating all types of orthopedic problems - including knee pain.
  • Faster, more advanced surgery: We offer leading-edge treatments that aren’t widely available elsewhere. Many of these treatments involve minimally invasive surgery options, which can help you recover faster. Learn more about minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery.

Symptoms

When Should You See a Doctor for Knee Pain?

Knee pain symptoms can be different for different people, and may change over time. You may feel knee pain constantly, or it may come and go. You might experience back of knee pain, or feel stiffness instead of pain.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor to prevent further injury:

  • Redness and swelling in and around the knee
  • Stiffness and inability to fully straighten the leg
  • Knee instability
  • Popping, crunching and clicking sounds when you move or bend your knee
  • Fever, which can be a sign of infection

Causes

What Causes Knee Pain?

Like other forms of joint pain, knee pain can have many causes, including:

Injury

Accidents and sports injuries can cause mild to severe knee pain. This type of pain may be caused by damage to different areas of the bones or soft tissue, including:

  • Tendons: Tendons are the fibrous connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone to support movement. Tendonitis and jumper’s knee are two conditions affecting the tendons that can cause knee pain.
  • Ligaments: Ligaments are the fibrous tissue that connects bones or cartilage to provide stability. Knee ligament injuries like ACL tears can cause knee pain.
  • Cartilage: Cartilage is the rubbery tissue that protects the ends of the leg bones that come together in the knee joint. Meniscus tears and other knee cartilage injuries can cause mild to severe knee pain.
  • Bursae: Bursae are the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joint. The knee has three bursae, which can become inflamed (bursitis). Knee bursitis may cause pain and indicate the knee joint is irritated. (It is not very common.)

Find out more about knee injuries including:

Conditions Affecting the Knee

Common conditions that can cause knee pain include:

Infection

Infection or inflammation of the knee can result from several types of bacteria or arthritis. If you have a joint infection affecting the knee, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

Diagnosis & Treatment

What to Expect at Your Appointment

At your appointment, your doctor will perform a physical exam to evaluate your knee mobility and investigate the cause of your knee pain.

To gather more information to confirm a diagnosis, your doctor may order tests, including:

  • Blood tests: Tests that check for infection or different types of arthritis
  • X-ray: Images that can show arthritis, fractures or other problems with bones in and around the knee
  • Ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans: Detailed images that show injuries to ligaments, muscles and other soft tissue

Treatments for Knee Pain

Depending on the cause and severity of your knee pain, your doctor may recommend several treatment options. Learn more about our treatments for knee pain.

Some treatments we offer include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Medications to treat autoimmune disease, infections or gout
  • Injections for joint pain to lubricate the knee joint and relieve pain, including hyaluronic acid and corticosteroids like cortisone
  • Arthrocentesis, where a syringe is used to remove fluid from the knee in order to relieve pain and test for signs of arthritis
  • Full or partial knee replacement surgery to treat severe arthritis or severe injuries, including back of knee pain
  • Integrated medicine like acupuncture

Risk Factors

Who Is at Risk for Knee Pain?

Knee pain can affect almost anyone at any age. Certain factors can increase your risk, including:

  • Poor muscle tone due to a sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Shoes that do not fit properly
  • History of previous knee injury
  • Participating in exercise or sports without properly warming up beforehand

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