[ANSWERED 2023] A 15-year-old male reports dull pain in both knees. Sometimes one or both knees click

A 15-year-old male reports dull pain in both knees. Sometimes one or both knees click

A 15-year-old male reports dull pain in both knees. Sometimes one or both knees click, and the patient describes a catching sensation under the patella.

Assessing Musculoskeletal Pain

Case 3: Knee Pain

A 15-year-old male reports dull pain in both knees. Sometimes one or both knees click, and the patient describes a catching sensation under the patella. In determining the causes of the knee pain, what additional history do you need? What categories can you use to differentiate knee pain? What are your specific differential diagnoses for knee pain? What physical examination will you perform? What anatomic structures are you assessing as part of the physical examination? What special maneuvers will you perform?

With regard to the case study you were assigned:

·         Review this week\\\’s Learning Resources, and consider the insights they provide about the case study.

·         Consider what history would be necessary to collect from the patient in the case study you were assigned.

·         Consider what physical exams and diagnostic tests would be appropriate to gather more information about the patient\\\’s condition. How would the results be used to make a diagnosis?

·         Identify at least five possible conditions that may be considered in a differential diagnosis for the patient.

Post an episodic/focused note about the patient in the case study to which you were assigned using the episodic/focused note template provided in the Week 5 resources. Provide evidence from the literature to support diagnostic tests that would be appropriate for each case. List five different possible conditions for the patient\\\’s differential diagnosis and justify why you selected each.

Expert Answer and Explanation

Knee Pain Episodic/Focused SOAP Note

Patient Information:

JD is a 15-year-old African American Male.


CC “Dull pain in both knees for four days.”

HPI: JD is a 15-year-old African American Male who came to the hospital with complaints of dull pain in his both knees for the three days. He reports that he sometimes feels catching sensation under the patella and both knees often click. The pain started after playing basketball tournament three days ago. He has not applied any medication. The severity of the pain I 8/10.

Current Medications: No medications

Allergies: No allergies.

PMHx: No history of major medical conditions. Pneumonia and influenza vaccines are up to date.
Soc Hx: Denies tobacco or alcohol use. He is the only child in a middle-class family. He loves playing basketball.

Fam Hx: He is the only child in a family of three. Both parents are alive and healthy. Grandfather died of depression. He committed suicide. Grandmother is alive as has type II diabetes.


GENERAL:  No fatigue, weight loss, or fever.

HEENT:  Eyes:  No vision problems. Ears, Nose, Throat:  No hearing problem, sneezing, runny nose, congestion, or sore throat.

SKIN:  No rash or itching.

CARDIOVASCULAR: No heart problems.

RESPIRATORY:  No breathing problems.


HEMATOLOGIC:  No anemia or bleeding.

A 15-year-old male reports dull pain in both knees. Sometimes one or both knees click, and the patient describes a catching sensation under the patella.


Physical exam:

Constitutional: General Appearance: Healthy adult with moderate distress. A+O+3, mucous membranes moist, flushed, answers questions properly. VitalsBP 122/90; P 57; R 20; T 36.3; W 58kgs; H 157cm.

HEENT: Head: NC/AT. Eyes:  Pupils are PERRL, extraocular movements intact; conjunctivae pink. Ears: Hearing intact, normal external appearance. Nose: Appears normal, clear mucus. Mouth: The are in good shape. Throat: No lesions or inflammation of the tonsils.

Skin: Normal color for ethnicity, dry, warm, with no rashes or lesions.

Cardiovascular: S1, S2 with regular rhythm and rate. No heart sounds.

Lungs: Chest walls symmetric. Lungs clear and bilateral. Regular respirations.

Knee: MRI shows ACL tear in both knees.

Diagnostic results: Diagnosis for knee musculoskeletal can be done using MRI or X-ray (Ball et al., 2019). The authors note that X-ray cannot see the ligaments, and in this case, MRI is recommended.

  1. X-ray: Pending
  2. MRI: Pending


Differential Diagnoses

  1. Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury. The primary diagnosis for this ACL injury. ACL injury is a sprain or tear ACL, one of the major ligaments in the knee (Korakakis et al., 2019). The injury occurs mostly in sportspersons. The disease causes pain in the knee. It has been included as the primary diagnosis because the patient is a sportsperson and recently got injured during a game.
  2. Knee locking: Characteristics of knee locking include catching sensation, swelling of the affected knee, and pain with extension (Lee, Nixion, Chandratreya & Murray, 2017). The disease is not a primary diagnosis because the patient is no swelling in the knee.
  3. Osteochondritis Dissecans: OCD is a joint condition that occurs when blood is not enough in the end of the bone. It also causes pain in the knee, and that is why it has been included in the diagnosis.
  4. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis: JIA is the swelling of the joints. The disease occurs before a kid reaches 16 years (Ramanan et al., 2017). It causes joint pain, and that is why it has been included in the diagnosis.
  5. Repeated kneecap dislocation: Repeated patellar subluxation is the continued instability of the patellar, which causes knee pain.


Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Seidel\’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Korakakis, V., Saretsky, M., Whiteley, R., Azzopardi, M. C., Klauznicer, J., Itani, A., … & Malliaropoulos, N. (2019). Translation into modern standard Arabic, cross-cultural adaptation and psychometric properties’ evaluation of the Lower Extremity Functional Scale (LEFS) in Arabic-speaking athletes with Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury. PloS one, 14(6), e0217791. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0217791

Lee, P. Y. F., Nixion, A., Chandratreya, A., & Murray, J. M. (2017). Synovial plica syndrome of the knee: a commonly overlooked cause of anterior knee pain. The Surgery Journal, 3(1), e9. doi: 10.1055/s-0037-1598047

Ramanan, A. V., Dick, A. D., Jones, A. P., McKay, A., Williamson, P. R., Compeyrot-Lacassagne, S., … & Beresford, M. W. (2017). Adalimumab plus methotrexate for uveitis in juvenile idiopathic arthritis. New England Journal of Medicine, 376(17), 1637-1646. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1614160

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Osgood-schlatter disease

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a common condition that affects adolescents who are going through growth spurts. It is characterized by pain and swelling at the front of the knee, just below the kneecap, where the patellar tendon attaches to the shinbone (tibia). This area may also feel tender to the touch, and may be accompanied by a visible bump.

The condition is caused by repeated stress on the patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap to the shinbone. During growth spurts, bones and muscles may grow at different rates, which can create tension on the tendon. This tension can cause small injuries to the tendon where it attaches to the shinbone, leading to inflammation and pain.

Osgood-Schlatter disease typically occurs in active adolescents who participate in sports that involve running, jumping, or other high-impact activities. Treatment typically involves rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and swelling. In more severe cases, a knee brace or crutches may be necessary to alleviate pressure on the affected area. In most cases, the condition resolves on its own with time and conservative treatment, although symptoms may persist for several months or even years.

The most common symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease include:

  1. Knee pain: The main symptom of Osgood-Schlatter disease is pain in the knee, especially during activity. The pain is typically located just below the kneecap, at the top of the shinbone.
  2. Swelling: The affected area may become swollen and tender to the touch.
  3. Bump: A visible bump may form just below the kneecap, where the patellar tendon attaches to the shinbone.
  4. Stiffness: The knee may feel stiff or tight, especially after periods of inactivity.
  5. Limited range of motion: The affected knee may be difficult to fully bend or straighten.
  6. Worsening symptoms with activity: Symptoms typically worsen with physical activity, especially running, jumping, or other high-impact activities.

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention from a healthcare provider or sports medicine specialist. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the condition from worsening and improve outcomes.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as runner’s knee, is a common condition characterized by pain and discomfort in the front of the knee, specifically around the kneecap (patella) and the groove in the thigh bone (femur) where the patella rests. This pain may be sharp or dull and is often aggravated by activities that involve bending the knee, such as running, jumping, or climbing stairs.

The exact cause of patellofemoral pain syndrome is not well understood, but it is believed to be related to a number of factors, including overuse, muscle imbalances, structural abnormalities, and biomechanical issues. Some common risk factors include:

  1. Overuse: Participating in activities that involve repetitive knee bending or impact, such as running, jumping, or cycling, can increase the risk of developing patellofemoral pain syndrome.
  2. Muscle imbalances: Weakness or tightness in certain muscles, such as the quadriceps or hip muscles, can affect the alignment and movement of the patella, leading to pain and discomfort.
  3. Structural abnormalities: Issues such as flat feet, a high arch, or misaligned leg bones can alter the way weight is distributed through the knee joint and contribute to patellofemoral pain syndrome.
  4. Biomechanical issues: Poor running or jumping technique, as well as improper footwear, can increase the risk of developing patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Treatment for patellofemoral pain syndrome typically involves a combination of rest, physical therapy, and pain management. Your healthcare provider may recommend exercises to strengthen and stretch the muscles around the knee, as well as modifications to your activity level or technique. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation. In some cases, bracing or taping may be recommended to help support the knee joint. Surgical intervention is rarely necessary.

What Causes Sudden Knee Pain in Both Knees?

Knee pain is a common issue that many people face at some point in their lives. It can range from mild discomfort to excruciating pain and can affect one or both knees simultaneously. If you’re experiencing sudden knee pain in both knees, it can be concerning and disruptive to your daily life. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various potential causes of sudden knee pain in both knees, helping you understand the possible reasons behind this discomfort.

Understanding the Complexity of Knee Pain

Before we explore the specific causes of sudden knee pain, it’s essential to understand the intricate structure of the knee joint. The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the human body, consisting of bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. This complexity makes it susceptible to a wide range of issues that can lead to pain and discomfort.

Common Causes of Sudden Knee Pain in Both Knees

1. Overexertion and Strain

One of the most common reasons for experiencing sudden knee pain in both knees is overexertion or strain. This can occur when you engage in strenuous physical activities, such as running, jumping, or lifting heavy objects, without proper warm-up and conditioning. The excessive stress on the knee joints can result in pain and inflammation.

2. Arthritis

Arthritis is a chronic condition that can affect the knees, leading to pain and stiffness. Two common types of arthritis that may cause sudden knee pain are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These conditions can affect both knees simultaneously and worsen over time if left untreated.

3. Bursitis

Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae, which are small sacs filled with fluid that cushion the knee joint. When the bursae become inflamed, it can cause sharp, localized pain in both knees. Bursitis is often the result of repetitive motions or prolonged kneeling.

4. Meniscus Tears

The meniscus is a rubbery cartilage that acts as a cushion between the bones of the knee joint. Sudden, sharp movements or trauma can lead to meniscus tears, causing pain and swelling in both knees. This injury is common among athletes but can occur in anyone.

5. Ligament Injuries

Injuries to the ligaments in the knee, such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or medial collateral ligament (MCL), can result in sudden knee pain. These injuries often occur during sports activities or accidents.

6. Obesity

Carrying excess body weight can put significant pressure on the knee joints, leading to chronic pain and discomfort. Sudden knee pain may occur if the knees are subjected to increased stress due to obesity.

7. Infections and Diseases

In some cases, infections or underlying medical conditions can lead to knee pain in both knees. Conditions such as gout or septic arthritis can cause sudden and severe knee pain and require prompt medical attention.

8. Improper Footwear

Wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support or are ill-fitting can contribute to knee pain. The alignment of your feet and how they impact your gait can affect the knees. Investing in proper footwear is crucial for maintaining knee health.

Seeking Professional Help

If you are experiencing sudden knee pain in both knees, it is essential to consult a medical professional for a thorough evaluation and diagnosis. They can perform physical examinations, order imaging tests, and recommend a suitable treatment plan based on the underlying cause of your knee pain.

Preventive Measures and Treatment Options

Preventing sudden knee pain in both knees involves maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and proper hydration. Additionally, consider the following preventive measures and treatment options:

1. Rest and Ice

If your knee pain is due to overexertion or a minor injury, rest and ice can help reduce inflammation and provide relief.

2. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy exercises can strengthen the muscles around your knees, providing better support and stability to prevent future knee pain.

3. Medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can help manage knee pain temporarily. However, consult a healthcare professional before using any medication.

4. Braces and Support

Using knee braces or supports can provide stability and alleviate pain, especially if you have an existing condition like arthritis.

5. Surgery

In severe cases or when conservative treatments fail, surgical interventions may be necessary. Procedures like arthroscopy, meniscus repair, or ligament reconstruction can be considered.


Sudden knee pain in both knees can be disruptive and alarming, but understanding the potential causes and seeking timely medical advice is crucial for effective management and recovery. Remember that this article provides general information and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you are experiencing persistent or severe knee pain, consult a healthcare provider to address your specific needs and concerns.

What is the most common cause of bilateral knee pain?

The most common cause of bilateral knee pain, which means pain in both knees simultaneously, is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition that often affects both knees in individuals, especially as they age. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones in the knee joint gradually wears down over time, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

This condition is more prevalent in older adults, but it can also affect younger individuals, especially if they have a history of knee injuries, genetic predisposition, or certain risk factors like obesity. Osteoarthritis in both knees can cause discomfort during daily activities, such as walking, climbing stairs, and standing for extended periods.

While osteoarthritis is the most common cause of bilateral knee pain, other factors like overuse, ligament injuries, and medical conditions can also contribute to knee pain in both knees. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment if you are experiencing persistent bilateral knee pain.

What are the symptoms of bilateral knee osteoarthritis?

Bilateral knee osteoarthritis refers to the presence of osteoarthritis in both knees simultaneously. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition that can cause a range of symptoms in the knees. Here are the common symptoms associated with bilateral knee osteoarthritis:

  1. Pain: Pain in both knees is a hallmark symptom of knee osteoarthritis. The pain may be described as aching, throbbing, or sharp and is often worse after periods of inactivity or excessive use of the knees.
  2. Stiffness: Individuals with bilateral knee osteoarthritis often experience stiffness in the knees, especially in the morning or after prolonged periods of rest. This stiffness can make it challenging to move the knees freely.
  3. Swelling: Swelling or inflammation in both knees can occur with osteoarthritis. The knees may appear puffy, and this swelling is typically due to the body’s response to joint irritation.
  4. Reduced Range of Motion: Bilateral knee osteoarthritis can lead to a decreased range of motion in both knees. This limitation may make it difficult to fully bend or straighten the knees.
  5. Crepitus: Crepitus refers to a crackling or grating sensation or sound when moving the knees. It can be felt or heard when bending or extending the knees and is caused by roughened or damaged cartilage surfaces rubbing against each other.
  6. Instability: Some individuals with bilateral knee osteoarthritis may experience a sense of knee instability, which can lead to a feeling of unsteadiness while walking or standing.
  7. Weakness: Muscular weakness in the thighs and around the knee joint can develop due to the pain and reduced activity associated with osteoarthritis.
  8. Pain with Activity: Knee pain tends to worsen with weight-bearing activities such as walking, climbing stairs, or standing for prolonged periods.
  9. Pain at Rest: In advanced cases, knee pain may persist even at rest or during nighttime, disrupting sleep patterns.
  10. Difficulty with Daily Activities: As bilateral knee osteoarthritis progresses, it can interfere with routine activities like getting up from a chair, bending down, or participating in recreational activities.
  11. Bony Enlargements: Over time, the development of bony enlargements, called bone spurs or osteophytes, can be observed around the knee joint. These bony growths can contribute to joint pain and decreased mobility.

How do you fix bilateral knee pain?

Fixing bilateral knee pain, or pain in both knees simultaneously, requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the underlying causes and promotes knee health. Here are steps and strategies that can help alleviate and manage bilateral knee pain:

  1. Consult a Healthcare Professional:
    • The first and most crucial step is to consult a healthcare provider, such as an orthopedic specialist or physical therapist, for a proper diagnosis. They can identify the specific causes of your knee pain and develop a personalized treatment plan.
  2. Rest and Reduce Activity:
    • If your knee pain is due to overuse or strain, it’s essential to give your knees adequate rest. Avoid activities that exacerbate the pain and allow your knees time to heal.
  3. Physical Therapy:
    • Physical therapy can be highly effective in treating bilateral knee pain. A physical therapist can create a tailored exercise program to strengthen the muscles around the knees, improve flexibility, and correct biomechanical issues.
  4. Medications:
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications may provide temporary relief from knee pain. However, consult with a healthcare provider before using any medication, especially if you have underlying health conditions.
  5. Hot and Cold Therapy:
    • Applying heat or cold packs to your knees can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Cold packs are effective for acute pain, while heat is more suitable for chronic conditions.
  6. Knee Braces or Supports:
    • Depending on the underlying issue, wearing knee braces or supports can provide stability and alleviate pain. These devices can help with conditions like patellofemoral pain syndrome or ligament injuries.
  7. Weight Management:
    • If you are overweight or obese, losing excess weight can significantly reduce the stress on your knee joints and alleviate pain.
  8. Proper Footwear:
    • Wearing shoes that provide good arch support and cushioning can help maintain proper alignment and reduce knee pain, especially if you have foot or gait issues.
  9. Orthotics:
    • Custom-made orthotic shoe inserts can help correct biomechanical problems and improve knee alignment, reducing pain and discomfort.
  10. Injections:
    • In some cases, corticosteroid injections can be used to reduce inflammation and alleviate knee pain. These injections are typically administered by a healthcare professional.
  11. Surgical Options:
    • In severe cases or when conservative treatments fail, surgical interventions may be necessary. Procedures such as knee arthroscopy, ligament reconstruction, or joint replacement surgery may be considered, depending on the underlying condition.
  12. Home Exercises:
    • Your healthcare provider or physical therapist may recommend specific exercises to perform at home to maintain knee strength and flexibility.
  13. Lifestyle Modifications:
    • Making lifestyle changes such as avoiding high-impact activities, maintaining a healthy diet, and practicing proper body mechanics can help prevent further knee pain.
  14. Follow Medical Advice:
    • It’s crucial to follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations diligently. Attend follow-up appointments, adhere to prescribed treatments, and communicate any changes or concerns regarding your knee pain.

What is the cause of patellofemoral pain syndrome?

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) is a common knee condition characterized by pain and discomfort around the front of the knee, specifically where the kneecap (patella) meets the thigh bone (femur). The exact cause of PFPS can vary from person to person, and it often results from a combination of factors.

Here are some of the primary factors that contribute to the development of PFPS:

  1. Muscular Imbalances: One of the leading causes of PFPS is muscular imbalances around the knee joint. Weakness or tightness in the muscles that support the patella, such as the quadriceps and hamstrings, can lead to abnormal tracking of the kneecap, causing pain and irritation.
  2. Overuse or Excessive Stress: Activities that involve repetitive knee motion, such as running, jumping, or squatting, can put excessive stress on the patellofemoral joint. This overuse can lead to irritation of the joint and the development of PFPS, especially if proper rest and recovery are not observed.
  3. Malalignment of the Patella: Sometimes, the patella may not track properly within its groove in the femur. This misalignment can result from structural issues or muscle imbalances and may contribute to PFPS.
  4. Trauma or Injury: A direct blow to the kneecap or a fall can result in PFPS. Such incidents can cause damage to the cartilage under the patella, leading to pain and inflammation.
  5. Improper Footwear or Biomechanics: Wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support or having abnormal lower limb biomechanics, such as flat feet or excessive pronation, can increase the risk of PFPS by altering the way forces are distributed through the knee joint.
  6. Muscle Tightness: Tightness in the muscles and connective tissues around the knee, such as the iliotibial band (IT band) or the calf muscles, can contribute to PFPS by affecting joint mechanics and causing discomfort.
  7. Excessive Weight: Carrying excess body weight can increase the load on the knee joint, potentially leading to PFPS or exacerbating existing symptoms.
  8. Gender and Age: PFPS is more common in females, particularly adolescents and young adults. Hormonal factors and differences in hip and thigh anatomy may play a role.
  9. Training Errors: Inadequate warm-up, poor training techniques, sudden increases in intensity or duration of exercise, or improper biomechanics during physical activities can all contribute to the development of PFPS.

What categories can you use to differentiate knee pain?

Knee pain can be categorized and differentiated based on various factors, including the underlying cause, location of pain, and the nature of the pain. These categories help healthcare professionals assess and diagnose the specific issue and determine an appropriate treatment plan. Here are some common categories for differentiating knee pain:

  1. By Underlying Cause:
    • Arthritic Conditions: Knee pain can result from various forms of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.
    • Injuries: Knee injuries, such as ligament tears (e.g., ACL or MCL tears), meniscus tears, or fractures, can lead to pain.
    • Overuse and Strain: Repetitive use or overexertion of the knee joint can cause pain and discomfort.
    • Inflammation: Conditions like bursitis or synovitis can lead to knee pain due to inflammation.
    • Infections: Knee pain can be caused by infections, such as septic arthritis.
    • Alignment Issues: Malalignment of the knee or patellofemoral tracking issues can contribute to pain.
  2. By Location:
    • Anterior Knee Pain: Pain at the front of the knee, often associated with conditions like patellofemoral pain syndrome.
    • Medial Knee Pain: Pain on the inner side of the knee, which may be related to issues like medial collateral ligament (MCL) injuries or arthritis.
    • Lateral Knee Pain: Pain on the outer side of the knee, sometimes associated with iliotibial band syndrome or lateral collateral ligament (LCL) injuries.
    • Posterior Knee Pain: Pain at the back of the knee, which can be caused by conditions such as popliteal cysts or hamstring injuries.
    • Generalized Knee Pain: Pain that is diffuse and not localized to a specific area of the knee.
  3. By Nature of Pain:
    • Sharp, Stabbing Pain: Often associated with acute injuries or trauma.
    • Dull, Aching Pain: Common in chronic conditions like osteoarthritis.
    • Burning or Tingling Sensations: May indicate nerve-related issues.
    • Throbbing Pain: Can be associated with inflammation or vascular problems.
    • Intermittent Pain: Pain that comes and goes, which may be seen in certain conditions like patellar tendonitis.
  4. By Aggravating Factors:
    • Pain with Movement: Pain that worsens when the knee is used or during activities.
    • Pain at Rest: Pain that persists even when the knee is not in use, which may be indicative of more severe issues.
    • Pain with Weight-Bearing: Pain that occurs when standing or walking, often seen in conditions like osteoarthritis.
    • Pain with Specific Movements: Pain triggered by specific knee movements, such as squatting or bending.
  5. By Duration:
    • Acute Knee Pain: Pain that has a sudden onset and typically lasts for a short period, often due to injuries.
    • Chronic Knee Pain: Pain that persists over an extended period, typically more than three months, often associated with chronic conditions or overuse injuries.
  6. By Triggering Activities:
    • Pain during Sports or Exercise: Knee pain that is primarily experienced during physical activities.
    • Morning Stiffness: Knee stiffness and pain that is more noticeable in the morning, which may be linked to arthritis.



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