Knee Pain and Knee Injury

Specialized Techniques for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Knee Pain and Injury

Loyola Medicine’s orthopaedic knee specialists provide expert care for a broad range of knee pain and knee injury. With a multidisciplinary approach, Loyola offers a wide range of both non-surgical and surgical options.

The knee is vital to movement and one of the most easily injured joints, particularly in athletes who run frequently. Pain may start suddenly, often after an injury or during exercise, but sometimes it begins gradually. Knee pain is a common problem in people of all ages.

Loyola’s orthopaedic knee specialists are experienced in the treatment of injuries causing knee pain, including: 

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries
  • Collateral and cruciate ligament injuries
  • Discoid meniscus
  • Dislocation
  • Distal femur (thighbone) fractures of the knee
  • Growth plate fractures
  • Knee pain, injuries, stiffness or instability
  • Meniscus tears
  • Osteonecrosis of the knee
  • Overuse injuries
  • Patellar tendon tear, dislocation and instability
  • Patellofemoral arthritis
  • Pes anserine (knee tendon) bursitis
  • Posterior cruciate ligament injuries
  • Quadriceps tendon tears
  • Shin splints
  • Stress fractures
  • Tibia (shinbone) shaft and proximal tibia fractures

Knee pain can also be caused by a range of conditions not directly related to an injury, and can be worse in overweight patients. These conditions include:

  • Arthritis of the knee
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Bone and joint infections
  • Bursitis
  • Chondromalacia
  • Discoid meniscus
  • Gout or pseudogout
  • Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS)
  • Inflammation
  • Limb deformity and limb length discrepancy
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome or patellofemoral arthritis
  • Pellegrini-Stieda syndrome
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Tendinitis
  • Unstable kneecap

Why Choose Loyola for Treatment of Knee Pain and Injury?

Loyola has an Illinois Level I Trauma Center and a team of fellowship-trained orthopaedic specialists experienced in treating sports injuries and knee problems. Our team includes experienced orthopaedic doctors with specialized training and vast experience treating knee injuries. These highly skilled doctors are able to treat the full range of knee problems, from the routine to the most complex.

Loyola’s orthopaedic knee specialists provide advanced diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of knee conditions and injuries, controlling pain and helping you return to your daily activities. Loyola’s surgeons have extensive experience with the latest minimally invasive and advanced surgical techniques. Our orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation services are recognized regionally and nationally. 

How is Knee Pain and Knee Injury Diagnosed?

The knee is the largest joint in the body and has three main parts: the femur (thighbone) meets the tibia (shin bone) and the patella (kneecap) covers the joint between them. A thickened cartilage pad called the meniscus works as a smooth surface between the femur and tibia.

Pain in the knee frequently comes from injuries of the bones, ligaments, tendons and bursae (fluid-filled sacs) around the knee joint. Pain can be felt inside or next to the knee, and some patients experience a “popping” sensation when the knee gives out. Frequently, patients experience limping, knee swelling and an inability to bend.

Loyola’s doctors will start with a physical exam to diagnose the cause of your knee pain, checking alignment, stability and movement of the knee and leg. If needed, a full range of minimally invasive tools to help diagnose the cause of knee pain are available, including:

What Treatment Options are Available for Knee Pain and Injury?

Seek treatment as soon as possible for a knee injury, especially if your pain is severe, your knee is swollen or you cannot move it. If you hear a popping noise, it is likely the sign of a serious problem. If knee pain develops gradually, check with a doctor if your mobility is limited, the pain cannot be treated with over-the-counter medicines, or your pain does not resolve after a day or two.

At the first sign of a knee injury, it is important to stop bearing weight on the injured joint. Immediately after a knee injury, use the “RICE” method to reduce pain and swelling:

  • Rest — Rest and protect the injured area.
     
  • Ice — Use ice, a cold pack or a bag of frozen vegetables for 10 to 20 minutes to reduce swelling. Repeat three or more times a day.
     
  • Compression — Wrap the sore area with an elastic bandage to decrease swelling. Take care not to wrap it too tightly.
     
  • Elevation — Lift the injured area on pillows while applying ice and anytime you are sitting or lying down. It’s also helpful to keep the area above or at the level of your heart.

For patients whose knee injuries can be addressed with non-surgical treatment, Loyola’s knee specialists may recommend:

  • Conditioning or exercise programs
  • Immobilization with splints or braces
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Physical therapy

For patients experiencing more serious cases of knee pain, surgical options may be considered. Loyola’s fellowship-trained surgeons are experts in numerous surgical procedures, including:

  • ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction
  • Arthroscopy
  • Cartilage restoration
  • Core decompression
  • Distal femoral osteotomy
  • High tibial osteotomy
  • Minimally invasive total knee replacement

Your Loyola team will help you return to your normal activities through the least invasive treatment possible. Your Loyola knee specialist will consider a range of therapeutic, medical and surgical options to address your knee pain. If surgical treatment is required, your Loyola doctor will recommend a minimally invasive approach whenever possible, which has a shorter recovery time than open surgery. 

Loyola’s orthopaedic rehabilitation program provides personalized therapy programs for patients following surgery and also for patients whose doctors have recommended physical therapy as a non-surgical treatment. Orthopaedic rehabilitation is a crucial component in regaining full use of your knee. At Loyola, physical therapy will be provided by a highly skilled physical or occupational therapist who specializes in knee therapy. 

If you undergo a knee replacement, you may participate in a class led by orthopaedic nurses, physical therapists and social workers. The class helps you understand the complexities of your surgery, set expectations for recovery and determine your discharge planning needs (such as outpatient physical therapy). We will also identify whether you will need any special equipment at home after surgery.