A health care provider will begin by asking queries related to your general health and then specifically to the cause of the knee pain:
- How long does knee pain last?
- How severe was the knee pain?
- Is there something that makes you feel better or worse?
Next, a knee exam will be done. This will include bending the knee through the full range of motion, checking the stability of the ligaments, and assessing for tenderness and swelling. It is often helpful to compare the results of the examination of the painful knee with those of the other knee. This is often all that is needed to make a diagnosis and begin treatment. In various research studies, an experienced examiner is as reliable as an X-ray examination.
Sometimes the doctor may want to do more tests, such as the following tests.
- Plain radiography can establish fractures and degenerative changes of the knee.
- MRI is used to measure the soft tissues of the knee for ligament tears or cartilage and muscle injuries
If gout, arthritis, or other medical conditions are suspected, a healthcare professional may order blood tests.
Joint fluid removal
Some conditions are best diagnosed by removing a small amount of fluid from the knee joint. During arthrocentesis, a small needle is placed into the joint, and fluid is removed. This is done with a sterile method. The liquid is then sent to the laboratory for testing. This procedure is particularly helpful if an infected knee joint is suspected or to separate between gout and different forms of arthritis. If there is a pool of blood in the joint due to a traumatic injury, removing the fluid can help relieve pain.