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When Should I Be Concerned About Knee Pain

What Medical Conditions Cause Knee Pain

I can’t bend my knee. Should I be worried?

Medical conditions

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that can affect any joint in the body. It can cause severe pain and disability, as well as swelling.

Gout is a form of arthritis that is most commonly found in the big toe, though it can also affect the knee. Gout tends to flare up and is extremely painful during the acute episodes. When there is no flare-up, the knee can be pain free.

With , the knee joint can become infected this leads to pain, swelling, and fever. This condition requires antibiotics and drainage treatments as soon as possible.

Chronic use/overuse conditions

Patellar tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons connecting the kneecap to the shinbone . Patellar tendinitis is a chronic condition often found in individuals repeating the same motion during exercise .

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is caused by degeneration or stress under the kneecap where it meets the thighbone . Patellofemoral pain syndrome occurs in runners and cyclists.

Osteoarthritis: a wearing down of cartilage of the joint due to use and age

Prepatellar bursitis: Inflammation to the bursa in front of the kneecap may cause anterior knee pain.

Other causes

How Is Knee Pain Treated After A Fall

Treatment for a knee injury caused by a fall usually involves rest and if necessary, a brace to stabilize the joint. In most cases, anti-inflammatory pain relievers, such as ibuprofen , may be helpful.

Minor knee injuries can often be treated at home. However, its important to see a doctor if symptoms worsen or if the pain is accompanied by:

  • significant joint swelling
  • an inability to bear weight
  • a feeling of giving way
  • other signs of ligament or tendon damage

When the injury is serious, surgery may be necessary to restore function and eliminate pain.

When Good Vessels Go Bad

PAD occurs when major blood vessels that supply blood to the limbs and other important areas of the body become partially or completely blocked by the buildup of fatty deposits.

This hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels, called atherosclerosis, occurs throughout the body, but in patients with PAD it can show up as leg pain, said Dr. Patel. The more you use your muscles, he explained, the more blood flow you need, but that flow becomes restricted due to the buildup, resulting in a cramping sensation.

Unfortunately, said Dr. Patel, people who have this condition tend to dial down their physical activity to avoid the pain, instead of seeking the advice of their physician. That can be a dangerous move, because people with PAD — particularly smokers and diabetics — are at risk for a lethal heart attack or stroke, and some severe cases can lead to limb loss.

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Instability Or Reduced Range Of Motion

Reduced range of motion can be related to swelling in the knee, as well as other joint injuries. If you have limited range of motion that does not begin to improve within a few days, you should contact your healthcare provider.

Instability in the knee joint or a sensation that the knee is bending or moving in the wrong direction may suggest a ligament injury to the knee.

The knee ligaments provide support and stability to the joint if they are stretched or torn due to an injury, instability is one of the most obvious warning signs.

A difference in your ability to support your full body weight on one leg, compared to the other, is another tip-off to an injury that requires attention.

What Causes Knee Pain

Why Do My Knees Crack &  Should I Be Worried?

Knee pain can have many different causes. Common causes of knee pain include:

  • Overuse injury
  • Arthritis , including osteoarthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Can become irritated as a result of injury, excessive pressure, or overuse
  • Patellar tendonitis
  • Meniscus tear
  • Traumatic tears occur when a sudden, twisting force tears an otherwise healthy meniscus common in young athletes
  • Degenerative tears occur when routine forces tears menisci that have become soft and weak due to age, arthritis, or other factors most common in patients over age 40
  • Ligament tear
  • Anterior cruciate ligament injuries
  • Often occur during movements such as cutting, pivoting, or landing from a jump
  • Muscle strains
  • Often occurs in sports requiring rapid acceleration and deceleration such as basketball, softball, American football, soccer, and less commonly in fitness activities such as jogging, swimming, rowing
  • Other knee injuries such as fractures or dislocations
  • Knee joint infection
  • Gout, which causes crystals to form inside joints
  • Conditions that don’t involve the knee
  • Hip problems may result in knee pain
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    Swelling That’s Worsening After 48 Hours

    The first thing that can happen after an acute injury is swelling around the site of the injury.

    When the knee is injured, it can swell as a result of inflammation or possibly bleeding into the knee joint. This swelling can causes pain and loss of motion, which limits the use of the knee.

    Swelling is usually obvious and can be seen, but occasionally you may just feel as though something is swollen even though it looks normal. Often swelling peaks around 24 to 48 hours after an injury. If swelling is still getting worse after 48 hours, you should seek medical attention.

    Swelling within a joint can also cause pain and stiffness. It may sometimes lead to a clicking sound as the tendons snap over one another after having been pushed into a new position from the swelling.

    If the knee looks deformed or misaligned, don’t delay in seeking treatment. It could be a sign of a fracture or dislocation. These injuries should be evaluated and addressed in a timely fashion to address the source of injury and prevent long term effects.

    A Loss Of Your Normal Range Of Motion

    If you arent able to complete basic tasks, like your normal exercises, getting up from a chair, squatting down to pick something up, or going for an easy walk, it may be time to see a specialist.

    A loss in your range of motion can be an indicator of serious internal swelling.

    If it persists for more than a day or two, you should get medical help.

    Or if you find it difficult to put weight on your knee because youre afraid its going to give out, you may have a ligament injury.

    Without the proper care, ligament injuries will get much worse over time.

    The ligaments are tissue in your knee that supports you as you stand and move.

    If you have a ligament injury, you want to get it repaired as soon as possible so it doesnt lead to chronic knee pain.

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    You Notice An Obvious Deformity

    If you notice your knee jutting outward in a way it never has before, take note. A dislocated or fractured patella can cause injuries like this, explains Brian Schwabe, C.S.C.S., board-certified sports physical therapist based in Los Angeles.

    While some deformities occur over time, when the deformity is a result of an injury, it could be the result of a fracture or chronic wear on the knee joint. If you are already experiencing any kind of misalignment in your lower extremities, then you could be more prone to this type of injury.

    If you notice a bone deformity after an injury, he recommends seeking the assistance of an orthopedic doctor immediately. The doctor will likely take x-rays as well as perform a visual diagnosis to determine if you need surgery.

    How To Keep Your Knees Strong And Healthy

    My knee is swollen. Should I be worried?

    Regular exercise

    Whether with weights or resistance bands can help strengthen your legs and knees protecting them from injury. To protect the cartilage in your joints its best to choose low impact activities like cycling, swimming, and body weight activities.

    Keep your joints flexible

    After you exercise, stretch your muscles. This is a great way to prevent injury and allow your joints to move more freely.

    Wear shoes that fit right. Old shoes can put more stress on your knees and cause injury.

    Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts extra stress on your knees contributing to arthritis.

    Physiotherapy can help build up your knees and slow down the aging of your joints.

    It does this by strengthening your upper and lower leg muscles. If you have muscle imbalances in your hamstrings, glutes , hip flexors, psoas, and quadriceps it can contribute to knee injuries or problems.

    Knee Brace can provide extra support when you move around.

    Here are some of the benefits of Custom Bracing of courtesy of ADM Ottawa Physiotherapy:

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    How Long Should You Wait To See A Doctor For Knee Pain

    Knee pain is a common problem that affects people of all ages. Because the knee is so complex, several injuries are common to the joint. These injuries can occur over time, during sporting events or other activities.

    It can be tempting to disregard knee pain but you should never have to live with pain or weakness. If you are experiencing redness, significant swelling or severe pain, you should consult with one of our surgeons. They can discuss your options so your daily life activities can be pain-free once more.

    Continue reading to learn more about knee pain and when you should see a doctor.

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    Q& a My Knee Hurts When Should I See A Doctor

    Posted on: by Our Team

    The knee is a hinge joint made of the thigh bone, the shin bone, and the knee cap. The bones are covered with cartilage to absorb shock and protect the knee. The knee joint is held together with ligaments, the Anterior Cruciate Ligament , the Posterior Cruciate Ligament , and the medial and lateral collateral ligaments. Additionally, the knee bones are held together by muscles and tendons. The two groups of muscles that allow a wide range of knee movement are the quadriceps and the hamstrings that are attached to the bone by tendons. If any one or more of these structures are damaged, knee pain can result. Knee pain can be caused by normal daily wear and tear, repetitive use, aging and injury.

    Dr. Jorge Chahla is a renowned orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine expert in Chicago whose focus is on complex injuries of the knee, hip and shoulder. Below, he answers your questions about knee pain and when to see a doctor.

    When To See A Doctor For Knee Pain

    My Knees Crack Should I Be Worried?

    Unfortunately, knee pain is a common problem for many Americans of all ages. While younger people tend to experience knee pain after an injury, knee pain can also be caused by a number of medical conditions, obesity and arthritis.

    If youre experiencing acute or chronic knee pain, you may need to see a knee specialist for treatment.

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    Now What After A Pad Diagnosis

    Whats most important about having peripheral artery disease isnt the PAD itself — its what it says about your risk for other, life-threatening conditions.

    Cynthia Shortell, MD, head of vascular surgery at Duke, says that being diagnosed with PAD means one thing for certain: Youve got atherosclerosis — otherwise known as hardened arteries. And you should definitely seek treatment and evaluation for that, she said, as its a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

    But she says that PAD is not, in and of itself, a condition that requires aggressive treatment in all people. Choosing treatment often depends on how much your symptoms interfere with your life.

    In those with mild to moderate symptoms, Dr. Shortell says three therapies are most often recommended:

    • Smoking cessation: Better blood flow in the limbs is one of many benefits to smokers who quit.
    • An exercise routine: This can be as simple as a daily walk. Exercise is a very effective way to build new vessels and improve circulation — when the routine is maintained, of course.
    • Medications: These can be useful for some patients, but they do have important side effects that should be weighed carefully with your physician.

    Dr. Shortell says that for most patients with claudication, deciding to have one of these surgical procedures is not unlike the decision to have knee replacement surgery. Its a quality-of-life decision, she said.

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    When To See A Knee Doctor

    Not all knee pain requires medical treatment most minor tweaks, sprains and injuries can be treated at home with rest, ice and elevation. If youre experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should contact an orthopedic knee specialist for a consultation.

    If you:

    • Have distinct knee swelling or an obvious deformity
    • Cant bear weight on your knee
    • Your knee gives out when you try to walk
    • Have a fever in addition to redness and swelling
    • Are in severe pain

    Chronic Knee Pain

    Living in constant pain and being unable to live a normal, active life shouldnt be your norm.

    If youve been experiencing chronic knee pain, its time to see a knee pain specialist. While some chronic knee conditions cannot be cured, treatments can help reduce your symptoms and pain.

    How Does My Knee Look

    My Knees Are CRINKLING! Should I Be Concerned?

    My knee is still swollen but it is improving each month and looking more like the shape of a knee. Before TKR my knee was always swollen, mushy , and without shape.

    My doctor said it would be swollen for the first year but I feel like the swelling has decreased significantly and its beginning to look like my other knee after 6 months.

    After strenuous activity, my knee swells a little bit so I continue to ice and elevate my knee. I often take a Tylenol type of product before and after strenuous activity.

    My goal is to have matching legs eventually for the first time in many years.

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    The Knee Is Misshapen Swollen Or Hot

    A warm, swollen knee can mean you have an infection or a serious injury. If the knee is misshapen, that can indicate a physical injury such as a dislocation. In that case, your knee wont heal normally with just home care. Kneecap dislocation is also a possibility. In either of these cases, you need to seek medical care at once.

    What You Need To Know

    • The most common causes of knee pain are related to aging, injury or repeated stress on the knee.
    • Common knee problems include sprained or strained ligaments, cartilage tears, tendonitis and arthritis.
    • Diagnosing a knee injury or problem includes a medical examination and usually the use of a diagnostic procedure such as an x-ray, MRI, CT scan or arthroscopy.
    • Both non-operative and surgical treatment options are available to treat knee pain and problems depending on the type and severity of the condition.

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    What To Expect At Your Office Visit

    Your provider will perform a physical exam, and look at your knees, hips, legs, and other joints.

    Your provider may do the following tests:

    Your provider may inject a steroid into your knee to reduce pain and inflammation.

    You may need to learn stretching and strengthening exercises. You also may need to see a podiatrist to be fitted for orthotics.

    In some cases, you may need surgery.

    What Is Knee Pain

    When Should I Be Concerned About Knee Pain?

    The knee is a joint that permits the leg to bend and straighten. Knee pain is common due to injury, age-related degeneration, inflammation, and infection.

    What Are Symptoms of Knee Pain?

    Symptoms of knee pain include:

    • Sudden, intense pain at the knee
    • Swelling
    • Inability to bend or fully straighten the knee
    • Clicking, crunching, or catching sound in the knee joint when walking

    Signs knee pain may be serious include:

    • Extreme pain
    • Feeling or hearing a popping when injury occurs
    • Joint instability
    • Inability to bear weight on affected leg
    • Inability to straighten leg
    • Knee buckles under when you try to walk

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