How Do You Diagnose the Cause of Knee Pain?


Quick Answer

Diagnosis of knee pain involves a physical examination, imaging tests and lab work, according to Mayo Clinic. A doctor carries out a physical exam to check symptoms and flexibility of the knee, and he might order tests if the cause of the knee pain is not clear.

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How Do You Diagnose the Cause of Knee Pain?
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Full Answer

A physical exam is necessary to inspect the knee for swelling, visible bruising, warmth and pain, states Mayo Clinic. The physician also tests for range of motion.

Imaging tests are ordered if a physical exam fails to establish the cause, explains Mayo Clinic. A doctor first recommends X-rays to detect fractures or degenerative diseases. Computer tomography scanners use X-rays captured from different angles to make a cross-sectional image. An ultrasound uses sound to create images of the tissues around and inside the knee. Magnetic resonance imaging utilizes radio waves and a magnet to create 3-D images of the knee. This test helps to detect injuries to the soft tissues such as cartilage, tendons and muscles.

A doctor recommends lab tests if he suspects infection, pseudogout or gout, according to Mayo Clinic. A patient undergoes blood tests to find the cause of the pain. Sometimes a patient may need to undergo arthrocentesis, a test whereby a fluid sample is taken from the knee and sent to the laboratory for testing.

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