Knee symptoms: beyond pain

Last month we looked at types of knee pain and what they can tell us about the different problems that affect the knee. However, if you are suffering from a serious knee condition then pain is usually accompanied by other symptoms, all of which will be assessed during your consultation with Mr Jonathan Webb.

The knee is composed of bones, cartilages, ligaments and tendons, all of which work in tandem to allow for full mobility. If any of these structures are affected, particularly as a result of deterioration over time, then ease of physical movement is undermined.

Swelling and the knee

Swelling is usually an immediate sign that there has been trauma in the knee and it should resolve itself as the tissues heal. Swelling that occurs in the minutes or hours after an injury will be due to bleeding, whereas swelling that presents over a period of 24 hours is typically due to excess fluid.

Make note of how the swelling presents as Mr Webb will be asking these questions during your consultation to aid his diagnosis. Rapid swelling, for instance, is usually a sign that there has been a tear to the cruciate ligament or meniscal. However, chronic long-term swelling is typically a result of an inflammatory condition such as osteoarthritis.

Knee instability

Does your knee suddenly ‘give way’? If there is instability in the knee, meaning it suddenly bends or twists causing you to seek support or even fall completely, then this can be a result of a injury to the ligaments, particularly the anterior cruciate ligament. Injury to the medial or posterior ligament is less likely to cause knee instability.

A clicking sound

If you are able to hear a clicking sound when you move the knee, often accompanied by a feeling of instability and discomfort, then it might be an indication that a piece of bone or cartilage or part of the meniscus has torn and become trapped in the joint.

Locking knee

Locking of the knee refers to an inability to either extend or bend the knee fully, often accompanied by pain when attempting full mobility. This is a mechanical problem affecting the knee joint and can be the result of a tear in the meniscus or a piece of bone and cartilage that is trapped in the joint.

This is a different issue to general stiffness that drastically reduces mobility and is more likely to point to a diagnosis of osteoarthritis.

By taking into account the description of your symptoms, Mr Jonathan Webb will have a clearer idea of the possible problem affecting the knee, allowing him to order the necessary scans that will support this diagnosis. If you would like to book an appointment at either Mr Webb’s London or Bristol clinics then call 08450 60 44 99.