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Causes of Knee Pain, Diagnosis, and New Treatments

By Clayton Thor, MD May 05, 2021 Posted in: Orthopedics

What Could Be Causing My Knee Pain?

Knee pain is a very common complaint in an orthopedic clinic. Knee pain can be coming from many different areas, not just the knee, and it could be many different problems other than just the knee joint. Knee pain can be from something intra-articular—inside the joint—such as arthritis or the breakdown of the articular cartilage; it can be a meniscal tear or a ligamentous injury; it could be a broken bone or fracture; or it could be coming from somewhere else. It could be a muscular imbalance in your thigh muscles; it could be pain from your hip that's radiating down, or it could be pain from your back that's radiating down to your knee.

How Do You Make a Diagnosis? (0:35 )

There are a few things that we'll do to try to get to the correct diagnosis. The first thing is just the history. When did your knee pain start? Where does it hurt? When does it bother you? Is it all day or only doing certain activities? This can help point in the right direction. Then there's a physical exam. Does it hurt when I move your knee around in certain areas? Is it tender to touch in a certain area? Does it radiate down the leg when I move your leg in certain positions? These can all point to what is going on.

Then we look at imaging. The first step is always X-rays. We can take them right in clinic and they can give us a lot of information. If the knees arthritic, that's all that's needed. There is no advanced imaging needed. If the knee looks good on X-ray, maybe we'll look into an MRI or something like that in the future.

What Are Some Treatment Options for Knee Pain (1:25)

First-line treatment for virtually all knee pain is over-the-counter anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or Tylenol. Also physical therapy can be very helpful for the majority of things causing knee pain. But if these do not help, then we can go on to the next step, as knee pain is treated in a step-wise process,

If there's minimal arthritis in the knee, it’s possible, advanced imaging is needed and the possibility of knee arthroscopy or a knee scope could be necessary in the future. If it is an arthritic knee, then a knee scope really isn't in your best interest, and we go down the lines of different types of injections and physical therapy to help. If we exhaust all of these and they're not helpful, then we start talking about knee replacement surgery.

A New Approach to Knee Replacement (2:12)

Robotic-assisted Knee Replacement

If you decide that you are ready for a knee replacement, and these other options have not helped your pain, I have a newer approach to knee replacement surgery. I do a robotic-assisted knee replacement. This allows me to better balance your knee based on your anatomy, so you get a personalized knee replacement. This leads to faster recovery and less need for pain medicines after surgery.

Get Back to a Pain Free Life

If you're experiencing knee pain and it's affecting your life, give us a call at (402) 717-0820, so myself or one of the other CHI Health orthopedic surgeons can evaluate you and get you back to a pain-free life.

Clayton Thor, MD
Clayton Thor, MD

Clayton Thor, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon with CHI Health Orthopedics.

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