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Pain in knee, stiffness in hip may be connected

A pain in the knee can be connected to the hip
A pain in the knee can be connected to the hip Getty Images/iStockphoto

Q. I like to walk for exercise and have had pain on the inside of my knee for two months. At first the pain was just in my knee, but now it starts in my left knee and extends to my hip. My hip and knee are stiff in the morning and the pain limits my walking. My doctor ordered an MRI scan of my knee, which just showed a little arthritis. The medicine he gave me did not help much. I am frustrated as I can not walk for exercise and my weight is going up. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

A. At first when you had knee pain alone, I would have suspected that you had a meniscal cartilage tear or arthritis causing your symptoms in the left knee. However, you had an MRI scan that did not show much damage and you now have hip discomfort.

It is not uncommon to have a hip problem that causes pain to the knee. This referred pain is caused by inflammation of the obturater nerve that runs from the inside of the hip to the knee. This is even more likely in your case as you also have hip discomfort and stiffness. I recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon to be evaluated.

In addition to your physical exam you will probably need hip X-rays and possibly an MRI scan. Possible diagnosis include hip arthritis, a stress fracture or a cartilage tear. It is also possible you may have both a left hip and knee problem. Once a diagnosis is established, then a treatment plan to decrease your symptoms can be initiated.

Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to HarlanS@baptisthealth.net.

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