Got Knee Pain? You Might Be Able To Skip the MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is one of the most powerful tools that we orthopedic surgeons have in our repertoire. Because MRIs offer a more granular image of the body’s internal structures, including blood flow and soft tissues, it is the preferred diagnostic tool for most orthopedic cases.

But x-rays are making a comeback. Far older and more limited than MRIs, x-rays nonetheless offer valuable information to orthopedists and other specialists, at a fraction of the cost. Sometimes that information suffices for diagnosis and treatment of knee pain, rendering the MRI redundant at best:

While magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is widely used by doctors to diagnose problems like torn knee ligaments and cartilage, a study in the September 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found that a simple x-ray may be a better diagnostic tool as it helps reduce time and cost.

The full study addresses the question of how often an MRI provides actionable information beyond what an x-ray has revealed; the answer is, not much. In many cases an x-ray can suffice on its own, saving patients a needless hassle while expediting the treatment of their knee pain.

The San Diego Orthopedic Surgery Center at AOSM boasts state of the art technologies for diagnosing and treating the most stubborn cases of knee pain in San Diego. To set up your own appointment with the best knee doctors in Southern California, call today.

Identifying the Causes of Knee Pain

Knee pain can wax and wane without any apparent reason. For some people, it begins as a stabbing sensation which resolves over time; for others, the pain is dull but chronically escalating. And as we have recently learned, knee pain can be a harbinger of referred pain that spreads throughout the body.

Naming and describing knee pain properly is one of the keys to making a good diagnosis. The Chicago Tribune recently tackled this topic, reviewing some of the common questions you are likely to hear when you visit your doctor:

Faced with a painful knee, doctors will take a history: Did you injure yourself? Did you change your exercise regimen? “All can lead to inflammation of the knee,” says Damle, who has a private practice in Wakefield, R.I.

Your doctor will examine the knee. “You might see fluid buildup, a decrease in the range of motion or difficulty bearing weight,” Damle says. These symptoms may indicate a serious injury such as a ligament tear, which may prompt an MRI scan and a referral to an orthopedic surgeon.

That’s where I come in. As a leading San Diego orthopedic surgeon, I see a number of patients complaining of knee pain. Taking a history can help to dispel the mystery, but sometimes the onset is gradual and subtle enough that no one can pinpoint an immediate point of origin. That’s why I endeavor to learn as much as I can about each patient’s habits, lifestyle choices, and vocation to make a good diagnosis.

Orthopedic knee pain is a widespread problem; visiting an effective orthopedist can help. Reach out today to get the best treatment for knee pain in San Diego.