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Knee swelling Assessment Questionnaire

Questions Your Doctor May Ask - and Why!

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Knee swelling. These will include a physical examination and possibly diagnostic tests. (Note: A physical exam is always done, diagnostic tests may or may not be performed depending on the suspected condition) Your doctor will ask several questions when assessing your condition. It is important to openly share any pertinent information to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

It is also very important to bring an up-to-date list of all of your all medical conditions, medications including dosages, and names of numbers of any specialist you see.

Create your printable checklist by answering questions that your doctor may ask below:

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  1. How long have you had knee swelling?

    Why: to determine if acute or chronic.

  2. Is the knee swelling transient?

    Why: may be due to rheumatic fever, sarcoidosis, relapsing rheumatoid arthritis or trauma.

  3. Is it unilateral or bilateral?

    Why: Unilateral knee swelling would suggest gout, septic arthritis, bursitis, hemophilia, pseudogout, tuberculosis, osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer around the knee), osteomyelitis and traumatic conditions such as torn meniscus, hemarthrosis (accumulation of blood in the knee joint) and fracture. Bilateral knee swelling is more commonly seen in osteoarthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Reiter's disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

  4. How would you explain the knee swelling?

    Why: e.g. acute joint swelling (1-4 hours) with intense pain would suggest blood (hemarthrosis), infection or gout; subacute (1-2 days) soft joint swelling would suggest synovial fluid effusion; chronic and bony joint swelling would suggest osteoarthritis; chronic and soft/boggy joint swelling would suggest synovial proliferation such as rheumatoid arthritis.

  5. Is there a history of trauma?

    Why: would suggest torn meniscus, anterior cruciate ligament tear, medial collateral ligament rupture or fracture.

  6. If knee swelling is related to an injury, explain in detail how the injury happened?

    Why: e.g. did you land awkwardly after a leap in the air?; did your knee get a direct blow?; did your leg twist during the injury?; did you hear a "pop" or "snap"?

  7. If the knee swelling is related to an injury, how soon after the injury did the swelling develop and were you able to walk after the injury?
  8. What is the age of the person with the knee swelling?

    Why: Younger people are more likely to have traumatic conditions (such as fracture, anterior cruciate ligament tear, medial collateral ligament rupture or a torn meniscus), rheumatic fever, septic arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and Rheumatoid arthritis. Osgood Schlatter disease would be more typical of people in their teen years. People in their twenties are more likely to have Rheumatoid arthritis and Reiter's disease. People in the forth or fifth decade and older would be more likely to have osteoarthritis, gout and pseudogout. Osteogenic sarcoma seems to occur between the ages of 5 and 25 years.

  9. How much kneeling do you do?

    Why: e.g. scrubbing floors or cleaning carpets - may help determine likelihood of bursitis such as "housemaid's knee" ( swelling gradually developing over days and confined to the front of the knee).

  10. Have you had a previous tick bite?

    Why: may suggest Lyme disease (may present months or even years after a tick bite).

  11. Past medical history?

    Why: systemic diseases that may predispose to or present with knee swelling include psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, bleeding disorders, rheumatic fever, systemic lupus erythematosus, tuberculosis, diabetes mellitus, hemochromatosis, sarcoidosis.

  12. Past surgical history?

    Why: e.g. previous knee surgery.

  13. Medications?

    Why: e.g. certain medications may precipitate gout including frusemide and thiazide diuretics; other medications that may cause joint pain include cotrimazole, amoxicillin, mianserin, carbimazole and nitrofurantoin.

  14. History of intravenous drug abuse?

    Why: may suggest septic arthritis, subacute bacterial endocarditis and serum sickness reactions.

  15. Sexual history?

    Why: can determine risk of Reiter's syndrome, gonococcal arthritis.

  16. Family history?

    Why: e.g. osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, gout, pseudogout, hemophilia.

  17. Knee pain?

    Why: If have knee swelling without pain, especially on motion, would suggest Charcot's disease (degenerative joint disease due to lack of protective pain sensation. May be associated with neurosyphilis, cauda equina lesion, diabetic neuropathy or syringomyelia).

  18. Knee locking (sudden inability to extend the knee fully but ability to flex fully)?

    Why: suggests torn meniscus, loose body, torn anterior cruciate ligament, avulsed anterior tibial spine, dislocated patella.

  19. Knee catching (feel that something is getting in the way of joint movement but not locking)?

    Why: suggests subluxing patella, loose bodies, torn meniscus, torn anterior cruciate ligament, avulsed anterior tibial spine, dislocated patella.

  20. Knee crepitus (knee grating with movement)?
  21. Prominent systemic symptoms?

    Why: (e.g. weight loss, fever, malaise) - should consider Reiter's disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, Rheumatoid arthritis and rheumatic fever.

  22. Fever?

    Why: may suggest septic arthritis, rheumatic fever, Reiter's syndrome, Lyme arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Still's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and osteomyelitis.

  23. Urethral discharge?

    Why: would suggest Reiter's syndrome or gonococcal arthritis.

  24. Recent diarrhea?

    Why: may suggest enteropathic arthritis (such as due to Ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease) or Reiter's syndrome.

  25. Skin rash?

    Why: may suggest psoriatic arthritis.

  26. Eye pain?

    Why: may suggest Reiter's disease.

  27. Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

    Why: e.g. usually symmetrical and can affect many joints. Pain is worse at the end of the day and aggravated by use and cold weather, relieved by rest. Usually associated with pronounced stiffness, especially after activity.

  28. Symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis?

    Why: e.g. usually starts with the gradual onset of pain and stiffness of the small joints of the hands and feet. May also affect the wrist, ankles, knees, shoulder, neck and jaw. Joint pain is worse on waking, nocturnal pain with disturbed sleep, pain is relieved with activity. Morning and rest stiffness can last for hours. May be associated with weakness, weight loss, malaise and fatigue.

  29. Symptoms of gout?

    Why: e.g. often excruciating pain in the great toe starting in the early hours of the morning, skin over the joint may be red, shiny, swollen and hot, joint is very tender to touch. May also affect knees, ankles and fingers. Pain may be precipitated by alcohol excess, surgical operation, starvation and certain medications.

  30. Symptoms of Rheumatic fever?

    Why: e.g. typically occurs in children and young adults, migratory polyarthritis (many joints are involved, joints affected alter with time), involves large joints sequentially, one becoming hot, red, swollen and very painful as the other subsides. It rarely lasts more than five days in any one joint. Associated with acute fever.

  31. Symptoms of Reiter's syndrome?

    Why: e.g. conjunctivitis, urethritis (painful urination, penile discharge, vaginal discharge). The arthritis tends to affect the larger peripheral joints especially the ankle and knees.

  32. Symptoms of Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis or gastroenteritis?
  33. Symptoms of Lyme disease?

    Why: e.g. months or years after a tick bite develop joint pain, usually of the large joints such as knee; typical rash (a dough-nut shaped red rash about 6cm in diameter) at the bite site; heart disorders (especially abnormal rhythms of the heart) or disease of the central nervous system (including weakness of the muscles in the limbs, muscular pain or evidence of meningitis).

  34. Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter's disorder?

    Why: e.g. occurs in children aged 10-14 commonly in those involved in sports involving running, kicking and jumping. Localised pain in region of the tibial tubercle (bony protuberance at front of knee below knee cap) during and after activity, aggravated by kneeling down and going down stairs. Associated with the development of a lump and tenderness in the area.

  35. Symptoms of meniscal tears?

    Why: e.g. Often caused when there is history of injury with twisting movement with the foot firmly fixed on the ground. Present with pain over the joint line, locking of the knee, swelling of the knee and pain worse with activity.

  36. Symptoms of anterior cruciate ligament tear?

    Why: e.g. onset of pain after a sporting injury such as landing from a jump or a forced rotational strain of the knee when another player falls across the knee. Results in immediate swelling of the knee due to accumulation of blood in the knee joint. Problems after the injury of knee pain and knee "giving way".

  37. Symptoms of medial collateral ligament rupture?

    Why: e.g. often caused by a direct force to the outer side of the knee. Causes pain and localized swelling on the inner side of the knee which is aggravated by twisting of the knee.

  38. Symptoms of septic arthritis of the knee?

    Why: e.g. intense joint pain, feeling unwell, fever. The joint is usually held rigid.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Knee swelling:

The following list of conditions have 'Knee swelling' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Knee swelling or choose View All.

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