When knee pain strikes, you might be tempted to just live with the discomfort, especially if it doesn’t bother you that much. And that might be an appropriate course of action, as many knee issues resolve on their own with time.
In certain situations, however, it’s best to see a doctor for knee pain rather than try to tough it out. For instance, you should seek professional medical attention if:
Your Knee Pain Is Affecting Your Daily Activities
If you are walking with a limp—or avoiding walking at all—your knee pain could be a sign of a serious condition, such as a broken bone or torn ligament. When evaluating your pain, a good rule of thumb is to consider the lifestyle changes you are making to accommodate it. If your knee pain is running your life, you should see a doctor.
Other Symptoms Suddenly Develop
If you abruptly experience swelling, warmth, or redness along with the pain in your knee, you could have an infection that warrants prompt medical attention. For instance, septic bursitis is an infection of the bursae. These small sacs of fluid cushion and lubricate joint tissues—bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and skin—in areas where those tissues come in contact with each other. A bursa can become infected if harmful bacteria enter it through a wound.
Your Knee Doesn’t Hurt When You Press on It
Sometimes, knee pain is referred from another area of the body. For instance, if the sciatic nerve is compressed by a herniated disc or spinal bone spur, the resulting pain may radiate down the nerve’s pathway, which runs from the lower back through both legs and knees. If your pain does not worsen when you touch or press on your knee, your injury may actually be somewhere else in your body. A doctor can help you pinpoint it.
Your Knee Pain Lasts Longer Than a Few Weeks
Common knee injuries such as sprains can take some time to resolve. To promote healing, many experts suggest PRICE therapy, which involves protection, rest, ice applications, compression, and elevation. In the meantime, over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories can help reduce the discomfort. However, if your knee pain doesn’t improve or resolve in approximately three weeks, a doctor’s visit is probably in order.
If you’d like to see a doctor for your knee pain, you can request an appointment with Peter D. Vizzi, MD, at his office in Lafayette, Louisiana. As a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and active athlete, Dr. Vizzi can offer you the benefit of his experience when providing you with personalized advice about your knee pain treatment options.