Providers use several methods to diagnose knee injuries, including determining your medical history, completing a physical exam, and in some cases conducting diagnostic tests.
During the medical history, your provider will ask how long your symptoms have been present and what problems you’re having using your knee. Your provider will also ask about any injury, condition, or health problem that might be causing the problem.
During the physical examination your provider will often bend, straighten, rotate, or press on your knee to feel for injury, and to determine how well the knee moves and where the pain is located. Your provider may ask you to stand, walk, or squat to help assess the condition of your knee.
Depending on the findings of the medical history and physical exam, your provider may use one or more diagnostic tests to more accurately determine the nature of your knee problem. Some of the more commonly used tests include X-rays, MRI’s, and arthrograms. Each of these tests has its primary use. X-rays identify bone injuries. MRI’s are very effective at showing injuries to soft tissues such as cartilage and ligaments, and arthrograms allow the structures of the knee to be observed while in motion.
These tests may be ordered immediately after the injury or your provider may recommend waiting until after the initial swelling and bruising have resolved. Your provider will discuss the various tests with you, and suggest those that are most appropriate for your condition.