I'm no expert, but it sounds like a muscle problem to me as well. The muscles will pull at joints and cause severe pain. Have you noticed your muscles vibrating or anything. Nearly every muscle in my body went spastic for months, and pulled and tugged at everything. With that, I often noticed my muscles vibrating and pulsing about. If you can't see the vibration, it almost feels like a really fast pulse rushing through your muscles.
The first thing I would have checked is my vitamin levels, as they can play havoc on your muscles and nerves.
Either way about it, good luck, sorry you are in pain.
I have this problem all of the time. In addition to my MS type problems I also have very brittle cartilage as noted in my knees via MRI. As for the ankles I think what is going on is the muscles down there get tight due to a spasm so just about any movement will cause pain. If I put ice on the ankle it seems to help calm things down. I think the same thing is going on with my knees but in there case it causes problems associated with the cartilage. Small flakes of cartilage flake off in my knees at times which cause this kind of pain for a few days to a week at a time.
It sounds like you have already had your knees imaged? I've had knee pain and catching for awhile and just found out two days ago, when they x-rayed it, that I have bone-on-bone arthritis in my knee!! Hard to believe that all the aching around my knee and down the rest of my leg is from arthritis.
Tendon problems can cause aching (worse at night) too--I was previously diagnosed with posterior tibial tendon syndrome, which runs from the inside of the ankle down the bottom of the foot into the big toe. Have you seen a podiatrist about your ankle pain?
I have a couple of thoughts here. First, having a problem with the foot or ankle could have altered your gait enough to change the normal pressures in your knee and lead to pain. If this is the case, it could conceivably continue right up the joint tree to your hip and back. (Remember the song about this bone being connected to that bone?) Diagnosing and treating the foot problem would be key to helping in this case of course, unless ......
you're posture and joint alignment is out of whack from something like carrying a child on one hip frequently. Look at how much pressure that stance puts on one knee over the other. Any possibility you could learn to balance the youngest on your head so the extra weight would be centered over your body like a water pot on an African woman's head?
Second, I'm not sure how old you are but my guess is you've seen enough years to be feeling the pangs of osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease). In addition, you've seen a pregnancy or six along the way. You may already know that hormones of pregnancy temporarily soften bone and make it hard for joints to bear the extra weight on your frame at those times. It's quite possible to have symptoms in one knee and not the other. I'm wondering if your joints felt better when you were on the IV steroid because of it's anti-inflammatory nature.
From your description of the location of the pain, it's also possible you have a Baker cyst behind the knee. This is actually a collection of fluid that causes pressure to build even though you may not be aware of any swelling. The pain of a Baker cyst is felt more during full extension and flexion as you describe.
I think I would ask for a referral to an orthopedic specialist. Be sure it is someone who works specifically with knees and/or ankle/foot problems. Those docs are highly specialized and won't even look at a joint outside their favorite.
If there is nothing obvious found in the joint/bone department, I'd try to see a physiatrist. They are specialists in physical rehabilitation medicine and can be quite skilled in tweezing out the root of a problem or finding a solution to an undiagnosed problem.
Remember also, if you are having any muscle fatigue or spasticity, that will alter the support your joints rely on to function properly. Although MS doesn't cause joint or bone pain in itself, it certainly can contribute toward it's development.
In the mean time, R-I-C-E it. That's Rest - Ice - Compress - Elevate. Ibuprofen around the clock in the meantime wouldn't hurt either.
So many possibilities. . . . . .
So Nancy, are you thinking about a knee replacement? I assure you all that pain can AND IS from your bone-on-bone arthritis. I use to wonder if the pain that spiraled around my outer knee and then traveled down my leg would really be helped by replacing the knee joint. It was, almost immediately.
It's a painful surgery and requires a firm committment to a difficult rehab exercise routine. You don't see the full benefit for up to two years after the surgery BUT I wouldn't wait a day longer than I did to have it done. Were it not for the limitations of MS I would be taking on the world now. Even with MS, it's a much more comfortable and functional existence with far fewer pain meds to cloud my brain.
I tried different types of injections and arthroscopic surgery first. They brought minimal improvement. I saw no good reason to wait until I had reached some random decade of age to improve my quality of life. Hope you find the solution that works best for you soon.
Wow Mary, thanks for the info! The way you describe the pain sure sounds familiar!
I've barely had time to wrap my head around the arthritis diagnosis--by an internist who just x-rayed my knee two days ago. Have not yet even seen an orthopedist--am hoping that rest, a brace, weight loss, lots of ibuprofen, and cutting back on work hours (where I mostly stand) will calm it down and get back to "normal" functioning. But I will keep your experience in mind, most definitely. Glad you have a good knee now! :)
WHAT A DIFFERENCE with neurology. Eleven years and no diagnosis, no prospect of one. For orthopedics--I go in for a sore knee and come out the same day with a definite diagnosis--with no hemming, hawing, or eye-rolling. WOW!!!! I would not have believed it possible!