The knee joint is one of the most commonly injured joints in the body. In my practice the only joint that I see more injuries in is the shoulder. In order to understand why your knee hurts it is helpful to know what structures makes up the knee joint. This is a very good video that reviews the anatomy of the knee joint.
As you can see from the video there are many different structures that can cause pain, from the menisci to the patella or knee cap to the tendons that help move the joint. A thorough evaluation should include:
- Location of the pain
- Is there a history of the knee locking, popping, grinding or swelling
- Does the knee feel unstable
- What makes the pain worse and what makes it better
A detailed exam should be performed evaluating for swelling, tenderness, instability and testing for specific pain generators, e.g. torn menisci, knee cap pain, tendinitis
X-rays can be helpful and should be done in standing to see if there is narrowing of the joint which could be a sign of arthritis.