Although physical examination, radiographic imaging, standard family history are vital in the evaluation and assessment of the etiology of knee problem, but advanced imaging techniques greatly help in the investigation or proper diagnosis of knee problem. Newer pain mapping techniques and imaging equipments might also assist the evaluation of knee problem causes to begin the treatment. By summarizing the signs and symptoms in the patient as well as assessing the severity of symptoms provides the healthcare professional to lay out a detailed diagnostic method pattern.
Numerous points in the medical history of the patient can draw very significant diagnostic information about the underlying cause of the knee problem. The doctor identifies the origin of the knee problem in a patient as sitting or climbing stairs causes pain, which identifies secondary to the etiology of patellofemoral structure. A pain occurring due to squatting or sitting down along with signs of clicking or locking usually associates with a meniscal tear. The meniscal tears are usually known as “sudden pop” with sudden inflammation and an inability to carry on the activity that you are doing, which is a rotating injury.
On the other hand, the same signs with a notable contact force might suggest a collateral tear of a ligament. In both cases, there is occurrence of acute swelling in the knee. An injury to the anterior tibia such as a snowboarding or dashboard blow might result in a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tear. However, a history of darting pain might have a relation with loose bodies or synovial impingement within the knee that is becoming the cause of knee problem. The doctor collects information from the patient regarding to the aching pain and pain resulting after doing physical activity.
The aching pain in the knee resulting after performing exercise or even walking might have an association with inflammatory diseases. While there is a possibility of patellar dislocation or subluxation if the pain arises during activity and this knee pain might aggravate by bearing weight or moving too fast. There is sensation of giving away or an unstable knee in the case of patellar instability or ligamentous laxity.
A healthcare professional observes the stance and gait of the patient and gives valuable hints to the diagnosis of knee problem. In the case of atrophy from inactive lifestyle, the doctors look for the decreased circumference of the quadriceps. Another visible observation is the palpable knee effusion which suggests a ligament or meniscal injury. The palpable knee effusion might also suggest arthritis if the pain is chronic. The tenderness in the joint lines suggests a tear in the meniscus that can also lead to the blocking of full extension movement of the knee joint. In the physical examination, the doctor performs a number of tests to evaluate the cause of knee problem; some of these tests are as follows:
- Patella dislocation test
- Varus and valgus stress test
- Posterior draw test
- Lachman test
- Posterolateral corner injury test