ZocdocAnswersWhy does my left knee feel stiff in the morning?

Question

Why does my left knee feel stiff in the morning?

I am a 32-year-old mother of 2 boys, ages 4 and 21 months. For the last couple of weeks my left knee has been very stiff and weak. This has not been good for playing with my boys. I have always had some trouble with this knee cracking a lot, especially while I drive a standard vehicle but I haven't driven one in years. The bad pain came on fast but I am afraid it has been building for quite a while. I am worried I may be developing arthritis.

Answer

In general, this requires evaluation as there are many progressive causes of the pain which require early intervention. I would strongly recommend that you see your primary care doctor to have this evaluated. If appropriate, he or she may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon. "Arthritis" is the common term for osteoarthritis, which is the term for general wear and tear on the bones in the joints. It is rare for this to develop alone in a young person -- although severe activity (professional athletes) and severe obesity can cause this. If these do not apply to you, I would consider osteoarthritis alone less likely (but possible). There are many other structures in the knee which can hurt and are more commonly the cause in young women. The muscles in the area can have a strain or sprain that can take weeks to months to heal. In addition, there are ligaments which can be damaged -- although this is often after a trauma and cause joint instability. There is also cartilage or menisci in the knee which serve as shock absorbers -- these can tear and cause the pain you are describing. There are also other less common causes such as blood clots or infections. If other joints are involved - you might worry about inflammation disease like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. See your doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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