When to See Your Doctor for Knee Pain
By Scott Schoifet, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon
We all experience knee pain at some in our lives, whether it’s from coming down awkwardly while playing basketball, carrying too much weight to support our joints, or wear and tear leading to osteoarthritis.
Knee pain can be caused by an injury to the bones within the knee (such as the patella, femur, or tibia), or a problem with any of the ligaments, tendons, meniscus (the cartilage “bumpers” between the bones), and bursae (fluid-filled sacs between the bones and tendons).
While not all knee pain is serious and can be effectively treated at home, some conditions do require attention from a health care provider.
Schedule an appointment if your injury is caused by a forceful impact or is accompanied by:
- Significant pain or swelling that does not improve within 48 hours
- Persistent tenderness or warmth around the joint
- Increasing swelling or redness around the joint
Seek immediate treatment at an urgent care or emergency room if you:
- Can’t put weight on your knee or you feel your knee is going to give out
- Are unable to flex or fully extend your knee
- Heard a popping noise when your injury occurred
- See a deformity around the joint
- Have intense pain or sudden swelling
Also see a doctor if your knee discomfort, such as from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout, has worsened to the point previous treatments are no longer effective or you are unable to perform normal daily activities.
Treatment will depend on the cause of your knee pain. Medication, physical therapy, cortisone injections, and braces or other supports all may help relieve your symptoms. Depending on your condition, joint replacement surgery may be an option as well.
Don’t Let Joint Pain Hold You Back
From pain management and physical therapy, to surgery and rehabilitation, Virtua Health can help you get back in the game. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained sports medicine specialists and orthopedic surgeons guide your care – from diagnosis to treatment, and beyond. Learn more about the Virtua Orthopedics & Spine program or call 856-517-8812.
Updated January 14, 2022