Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Pain Management Health Center

Select An Article

Knee Pain Overview

Font Size

Getting a Knee Pain Diagnosis continued...

X-rays, CT scans, and other tests

  • Depending on your particular history and exam, the doctor may suggest X-rays of the knee. X-rays show fractures (broken bones) and dislocations of bones in the knee as well as arthritis and abnormally large or small joint spaces.
  • Rarely, the doctor may order a CT scan (a 3-dimensional X-ray) of the knee to precisely define a fracture or deformity.
  • Both X-rays and CT scans are excellent for diagnosing fractures. They both are also poor, however, at evaluating soft tissue structures of the knee such as ligaments, tendons, and the menisci.


  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses large magnets to create a 3-dimensional image of the knee.
  • In contrast to CT scans, MRIs do not image bones and fractures as well.
  • Also in contrast to CT scans, MRIs are excellent for evaluating ligaments and tendons for injuries.

Fluid removal

  • The knee and all bursae of the knee are filled with fluid.
  • If your symptoms suggest infection or crystalline arthritis, such as gout, your physician may remove fluid, with a needle, from the knee.
  • This fluid will then be analyzed to better clarify the diagnosis.
  • Crystals, which suggest crystalline arthritis, often can be seen under the microscope. Infection may also be detected under a microscope by finding bacteria and pus in the fluid.
  • Blood tests: The doctor may also elect to perform certain blood tests to evaluate for signs of infection or diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and diabetes.


  • The orthopedic surgeon may elect to perform arthroscopy if you have chronic knee pain.
  • This is a surgical procedure where the doctor will place a fiber optic telescope within the knee joint. The arthroscope is attached to a camera that relays real-time images to a video monitor.
  • By doing so, the surgeon may be able to see small particles in the knee or to look more closely at damaged menisci or cartilage.
  • The doctor may also be able to repair damage by shaving down torn cartilage or removing particles from the knee while looking at the inside of your knee on a video monitor.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

pain in brain and nerves
Top causes and how to find relief.
knee exercise
8 exercises for less knee pain.
acupuncture needles in woman's back
How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
chronic pain
Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
illustration of nerves in hand
lumbar spine
Woman opening window
Man holding handful of pills
Woman shopping for vegetables
Sore feet with high heel shoes
acupuncture needles in woman's back
man with a migraine