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Suffering from knee pain. Never had swelling. Pain getting worse. Could it be arthritis?

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Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 2000
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I've been getting knee pain in my left knee since I was 10 years old. Started to get the pain when I played netball which I continuted for 10years. I find it hard to walk up steps ans feels as though my knee is about to give way. It aches some nights when I try to sleep but have never had any swelling. The pain is behind the knee cap and is gradually getting worse. There is also a horrible grinding noise aswell when my knee bends especially when I walk up steps. Could it be arthritis?
Posted Thu, 16 Aug 2012 in Arthritis
Answered by Dr. Atul Wankhede 3 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.

Its been quite some time that you had this pain. Almost 18 years now. The pain and feeling of knee giving way occurs in case of torn ligaments, especially ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). Night pains along with grinding noise are high time for the knee to be examined, investigated and treated.

Unless the alleged torn ligament is reconstructed the knee is bound to end up with arthritis soon. By which I mean its not already set in, and its too early for you to have arthritis, which is characterised by degenerative changes of cartilage and formation of new bony tissues at unwanted sites (which may dislodge and behave like loose body). Nevertheless unless you take right precautions now, the pain will not subside.

The next thing you must do is get it examined by an orthopaedic or sports injury specialist (if you haven't done so already). That along with relevant investigation like MRI should give a clear picture of any XXXXXXX derangement. Likewise if the MRI is inconclusive, one must go for a diagnostic arthroscopy. One can also think of a therapeutic arthroscopy at same sitting if it is positive for torn meniscus/ ligament.

Meanwhile take bandage. Avoid position/ activity that aggravates the pain. This should do till a diagnosis is established.

Hope this answer was informative. I'm available for follow up if you have any further questions.
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Follow-up: Suffering from knee pain. Never had swelling. Pain getting worse. Could it be arthritis? 58 minutes later
Thankyou for such a detailed answer. I also have fibromyalgia and at the moment being investigated for other autoimmune diseases as my ESR is extremly high and my wrist and finger joint pain has been getting worse. I'm already on Celebrex and taking Tramadol which doesnt' really help with pain some days. Aswell as that I'm also having ongoing problems from a very large central herniation of my L4/L5 disc which required surgery. Hurting my back is what triggered off my FM badly. I also have a lot of degenerative changes and more bulging disc in my back. I have really just 'put my back out' about 2 hrs ago. I just got out of a chair and thought my sciatica was playing up but now having bad spasms and pain in my lower back to go with the sciatica. Worse bit is it's on my right side and all previous problems that led to surgery were on the left. Too make things even worse, I live by myself on a Disability Pension and I'mm moving in 17days and havne't started packing yet!!!

I've had bad back problems since I was 12 and they are getting worse. The last accident ( just getting out of bed and twisting the wrong way) led to surgery which didn't help a lot especially pain wise and still have permanent nerve damage in my leg and foot plus leg pain and cramping in general. My dad has always had problems with his back aswell, not to the extend of a herniation and surgery but was jsut wondering if back problems can be hereditary?? I was also in a bad car accident when I was 3 years old. The car I was in was hit by the trailer of a road train (in Australia that's a very large truck with 3 trailers and travelling up to 110km/hr) The last trailer broke off and hit the car that we were travelling in and I ended up going through the windscreen. I only ended up with facial lacerations but wondering it that would have contributed to the problems I have with my back now aswell.

I'm in the process of being investigated for another autoimmune condition at the moment and will definately get my dr to look into my knee problems aswell. They have jsut dismissed it as FM pain in the past.

Answered by Dr. Atul Wankhede 54 minutes later
Thanks for writing back, I appreciate the details you provided.

You really have a long medical history and I'm sure the current issue at hand is somewhat related to your previous events. The car accident at age 3 could have caused some damage which might be overlooked then and probably resurfaced now. May be the auto immune disease has caused your joint to undergo early degenerative changes. Fibromyalgia too is known to have these manifestations. These possibilities along with my previous suspicions have to be ascertained before we plan a mode of treatment.

Lets hope this is sorted out one by one. I'm sure you are being investigated in right direction and do remind your physician to confirm the knee pathology too with help of MRI.

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