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Why is it hard to diagnose knee problems?

Scott D. Martin, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Diagnosing knee problems can be complicated, in part because of the large number of possible causes of knee pain. Patients are not always able to pinpoint the exact location of their pain, and injuries may not be clearly visible on imaging tests. In some situations, a physical examination and the information you provide are sufficient. But most diagnoses require at least an x-ray, and in some cases the doctor may recommend more advanced imaging and laboratory tests to determine the cause and extent of damage. But be aware that even expensive tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may not be conclusive or even useful. While MRI may reveal an abnormality, it may not be the source of the pain. Studies show that MRI can be too sensitive and often reveals abnormalities in patients who have no pain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.