Common Knee Pain Questions

Below are knee pain questions submitted to Results PT via our Ask a Therapist blog. We strive to respond to every question and concern because we recognize the importance of receiving an educated, well informed opinion regarding your condition.

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If your concern is not addressed below, you can submit your question at the page linked below.

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About 3 months ago, I hurt my knee while playing volleyball. I fell and landed on the outside part of my left knee. Ever since I have been injured, I feel my knee buckle or joints quickly move. Nothing has been permanent, but there is usually a large amount of pain, but no swelling.

I have noticed that the inside of my knee hurts occasionally, especially when sitting on my knee. What could it be?

Thanks for your question. It’s hard to determine what has happened to your knee without having a detailed assessment of it. I can tell you that after you get a contusion injury (i.e. a knock or landing on a hard surface), your joint position awareness, your muscle tone acting around your knee and your movement quality all change.

Although the body is quite good at healing injured tissue, very often the other side effects that come with injury don’t automatically resolve. This can mean that there is more strain going through some very pain sensitive structures around the knee, like the kneecap or the knee joint line.

The lack of swelling is a positive sign, this could be something that isn’t terribly complicated. Because you are still getting pain and having re-injuries, you should get it addressed.

What I suggest is having one of our PT’s take a look at you. You can attend one of our clinics and get screened without a doctor’s referral. To initiate treatment, we do need to get a doctor’s signature on a plan but a screening is a great way of getting a better understanding of what you are dealing with.

I was thrown off a motorcycle 4 weeks ago and had 2 surgeries on a broken tibia and completely torn off patellar tendon. I am non-weight bearing for about 3 months and haven't been allowed to bend my knee, though the doctor wants me to start bending it at 30 degrees next week.

I am nervous because I am still unable to lift my leg at all, not even a centimeter, not from a sitting down, lying down, or standing up position. It feels as though I can lift it from above the knee, but I am unable to lift it from below the knee. It feels like a huge concrete brick is weighing my shin down.

The doctor said I do not need PT, which I find very strange. Any suggestions?

I’m sorry about your accident. With the injuries and surgery you’ve had, it is normal to have a lot of muscle inhibition. Your body actively inhibits nerve messages getting through to your muscles as a protective reflex. This can be enough to explain your symptoms. The patch of numbness you have is most likely a superficial skin nerve that was cut with your surgery- it should normalize.

Some surgeons will hold on PT until you have healed enough to tolerate exercise. In general, the quicker you can initiate PT the better the outcome. I would make sure your surgeon answers your questions about the plan for PT and addresses your concerns.

That’s one of the main goals and benefits of PT - getting muscles working and moving after an injury. You would benefit. In the meantime, I would follow the advice and protocols from your surgeon, persist with doing what you can to get your quads working, and put a call in to the surgeon’s office about your concerns.

When trying to contract your quads, give some sensory input to it - a brisk self-massage, quick strokes over the skin. This can help wake the nerves up. A PT may choose to do some electrical stimulation to the quads - it’s not possible to replicate that at home without a proper muscle stim unit.

I recently hurt my left knee when performing dumbbell knee squats. I was using 25lbs in each hand. I think I may have used too much weight because I realized my knees were moving forward than my feet. I can't pinpoint exactly where the pain is but it's somewhere in the front of the knee cap and inner side of it. Since then, my knee hurts when I bend down too much, go up/down stairs too much, and when I walk too long.

Thank you for your question. It is not uncommon to experience joint and/or muscle pain when starting a new workout plan, but it seems that you may be dealing with more than just soreness. Form is very important when weight training to avoid abnormal stresses to joint surfaces, tendons and ligaments. I would tell my patients to let pain be their guide with most exercise and to not push through pain as this is your body’s way of letting you know your limits. That being said, there are many structures that can cause pain in the knee, and without properly examining your knee to determine the involved structure, it is difficult to prescribe a game plan.

I recommend you seek out a manually trained physical therapist or other medical provider in your area that could evaluate your condition to provide the best plan of care. Don’t hesitate to drop into one of our clinics for a free consult!

I recently hurt my knee playing basketball. Whatever the cause may be, I instantly felt pain in my knee. Specifically, since then and until now, I'm in pain when I try running or jumping. There was and still is slight pain when I bend my knee too much. That has been getting better.

The fact that your knee pain is improving is a good sign as many knee structures can be injured playing jumping sports such as basketball or volleyball.

You have several structures in the knee such as ligaments, tendons and menisci that can be strained or injured and the best way to determine the tissue of injury is to see one of our manually trained physiotherapists for a thorough evaluation. They will go through a detailed exam of your knee and develop an individualized treatment plan to get you better faster.

I was dancing and someone fell on me, and I heard a pop in my knee. Now 6 weeks later, every time I try to go up stairs that knee buckles. There is still some swelling but in daily use it doesn't hurt. What should I do?

I am sorry that you are still having knee problems following your accident. First, I would continue to move your knee within your tolerance level in order to minimize stiffness and additional swelling. High repetition, low load activity such as a stationary bike is typically beneficial.

I do recommend an evaluation with a licensed manual physical therapist in order to determine what could potentially be causing your continued knee pain and buckling. You have several structures in the knee such as ligaments, tendons and menisci that can be strained or injured. To find out the root cause, you should see one of our manually trained physiotherapists for a thorough evaluation.

I twisted my left knee during a 90 degree right turn. I was going from a stop to a sprint when my knee felt like it pulled out and went back in on its own (no popping or tearing noise that I heard). I immediately chose to fall upon feeling and my knee swelled. Initially, pain was experience on the inside of the knee, it felt very unstable to walk on and shook. It was difficult to extend and bend past 90 degrees. It became more stable after about 2 weeks. I can hike, move it up and down quickly, balance on it in yoga, and balance on it when practicing martial arts/mma (no contact). At this point, knee can fully extend with no pain, just doing the quad stretch can hurt when the calf touches my hamstring. The knee has a clicking sound when walking about 60% of the time. I have not tried to run fast at this point. I'm curious what your thoughts of what may have been or is still injured (meniscus, MCL).

Thank you for your question, and I am sorry that you are continuing to experience pain in your knee. As you have discovered through your own independent research, there are a multitude of structures in your knee that could be the potential source of your previous & ongoing issues, with meniscus and MCL being two of them. From my experience, based on your mechanism of injury, these would be the most likely sources due to the nature of the continued complaints that you are describing.

My best advice to you is to seek an evaluation with a licensed manual physical therapist. There are several testing techniques that your PT can perform in order to gain more information about the integrity and strength of not only the meniscus and MCL, but also other ligaments and structures in your knee. If you have insurance limitations, your PT will also be able to issue you a home exercise program that will be specific to the findings during your exam. If your problems persist following PT, I would recommend further diagnostic testing.

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