Physical examination: By examining the location of knee pain and looking for swelling or abnormal movement, a doctor gathers information about potential causes of damage or stress on the knee.
Drawer test: With the knee bent, a doctor can pull (anterior drawer test) and push (posterior drawer test) the lower leg while holding the foot stable to check the stability of the ACL and PCL knee ligaments.
Valgus stress test: Pushing the calf outward while holding the thigh stable, a doctor can check for injury to the medial collateral ligament (MCL). Pushing the calf inward (varus stress test), a doctor can look for injury to the lateral collateral ligament (LCL).
Knee X-ray: A plain X-ray film of the knee is typically the best initial imaging test for most knee conditions.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan): Using high-energy magnetic waves, an MRI scanner creates highly detailed images of the knee and leg. An MRI scan is the most-often used method of detecting ligament and meniscal injuries.
Arthrocentesis of the knee (joint aspiration): A needle is inserted into the joint space inside the knee, and fluid is drawn out. Various forms of arthritis may be diagnosed through knee arthrocentesis.
Arthroscopy: A surgical procedure that allows examination of the knee with an endoscope.
RICE therapy: Rest (or reducing daily activities), Ice, Compression (as with bandage support) and Elevation. RICE is good initial therapy for many knee conditions.
Pain medicines: Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve) can treat most knee pain.
Physical therapy: An exercise program can strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee, increasing the knee’s stability.
Cortisone injection: Injecting steroid into the knee can help reduce pain and swelling.
Hyaluronan injection: Injection of this “goo” material into the knee may reduce pain from arthritis and delay the need for knee surgery in some people.
Knee surgery: Surgery may be done to correct a variety of knee conditions. Surgery can replace or repair a torn ligament, remove an injured meniscus, or entirely replace a severely damaged knee. Surgery may be done with a large incision (open) or smaller incisions (arthroscopic).
Arthroscopic surgery: An endoscope (flexible tube with surgical tools on its end) is inserted into the knee joint. Arthroscopic surgery has a shorter recovery and rehabilitation period than open surgery.
ACL repair: A surgeon uses a graft (cut from your own body or a donor’s body) to replace the torn ACL.