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When To See Your Doctor For Knee Pain

Knee pain can make everyday tasks difficult. While not all knee pain is serious, Virtua orthopedic surgeon Scott Schoifet, MD, says some conditions do require attention from a health care provider.

man sitting on the sofa massaging his knee
Updated July 05, 2022

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, the joint specialists at Virtua Orthopedics & Spine can help you get back to living your life the way you want. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons are with you every step of the way. Learn more about joint care at Virtua Orthopedics & Spine program or call 856-517-8812 to request an appointment.