Whether you're running, walking, skiing, golfing, or simply heading upstairs to bed, your knees are doing some incredibly important work. Unfortunately, overexposure to that work leads to pain. As you age, and strain is placed on your knees through additional exercise and sports, you can begin to suffer from joint pain that you can't always understand. Unfortunately, using a knee compression sleeve mixed with rest and ice isn't always the best way to fix the problem, and for a doctor to help, they'll need to identify the cause of your discomfort.
Following are some of the questions you will need to ask yourself in order to properly understand, and solve your knee pain mystery.
1. Where Is the Pain?
The hunt for the cause of your knee pain begins with location. Although you might think that simply indicating that your knee hurts is enough direction, there's actually a lot more to knee pain than this. To solve your knee pain mystery, you'll need to identify whether the pain starts below your kneecap, inside, or outside of your knee.
Pain below the kneecap might indicate inflammation in the tendon that connects the shinbone and kneecap, or might show signs of patellar tendonitis. Alternatively, pain above the kneecap may be a sign of quadriceps tendonitis. If your discomfort is situated on the outside or inside of your knee, this could be a sign of a torn ligament, or a torn meniscus - the cartilage that cushions the knee joint.
2. When Does It Feel Worse?
If you've struggled with knee pain in the past, then you've probably heard of the "RICE" acronym - this stands for:
This acronym delivers a decent guideline for the conservative management of minor pain. However, no-one can rest constantly, so it's worth noting when you feel pain the most. For example, if you struggle most when walking up and down stairs, this could be a sign of osteoarthritis. Alternatively, pain that gets better through the day could be a sign of an inflammatory condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis. If you want to solve your knee pain quickly, you'll need to recognize the difference between the two.
3. Have You Noticed Anything Strange?
Finally, you'll need to note whether anything unusual is happening beyond the knee pain. For example, to solve your knee pain quickly, you'll need to figure out whether you can still flex your knee properly. In some cases, the knee may lock and be unable to straighten - and this is a sign of something called a Baker's cyst - which is a fluid-filled sac caused by inflammation.
A clicking sign can also lead to some anxiety and confusion for many patients. Sometimes, this clicking is entirely harmless, but if it comes connected with pain, then you might have a torn meniscus to deal with.
The above questions are just a few examples of what a doctor might ask you when attempting to figure out the cause of your pain and choose an effective course of treatment. The more you can describe your problem, the better chance you have to solve your knee pain problem.