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When Should You See an Orthopedician for Knee Pain

It is very common for people to experience some form of knee pain now and then; the pain could be owed to over exertion due to exercise, a knock because of impact and at times simply due to normal wear and tear or cold weather. More than 80 percent of knee pain cases are common and go away within a day or two, in most cases a sufficient amount of rest or a nice cold compress does the trick. This phenomenon, common to so many individuals; makes us complacent and we brush aside the pain as something that just happens and carry on with our normal routine; carrying the pain with us. There are however a few scenarios or symptoms related to knee pain that cannot not be ignored: these should mandate a visit to the doctor for further inspection.

 Some symptoms of knee pain that merit a visit to the doctor are: - 

  1. Trouble walking; if a person is experiencing slight knee pain, but can still continue walking normally, the signs are benign. But in case there is a significant amount of pain or a very apparent limp in motion: this could spell trouble and may point towards a bone injury. The basic idea to be followed is whether a person can manage knee pain while performing routine functions or the knee pain determining which functions the person can or cannot perform.
  2. Pain that lasts longer than forty-eight hours and persists even after two days of rest and recovery; can point towards trouble with the meniscus or cartilage that covers the knee. The meniscus is also called the “shock absorber” of the knee as it allows the knee to withstand impact upon waking or running. At times a meniscus tear can lead to an audible “popping” sensation and the person may experience a lockdown of knee movement. The cartilage facilitates smooth movement and extension of the knee while moving. Both meniscus and cartilage tears also cause a deep sense of pain apart from difficulty during movement.
  3. If knee pain is accompanied by a sudden and unexpected rise in other symptoms like redness or swelling around the affected area. This could point towards an infection in the knee, also called “septic joint”. This refers to irregularity in the fluid filled sac (called bursa) that protects and cushions the knee. Injuries or wounds suffered prior to the knee pain can cause the infection to grow and spread. This infection can cause fever, chills and nausea.
  4. Swelling often follows a knock to the knee and a redness covers the affected area. The swelling can be caused due to inflammation or bleeding in the knee joint. Swelling is usually visible but at times the knee may feel swollen, even if there is no visible swelling. This can point towards the tendons in the knee snapping out of place and into a new position due to the injury or knock. A highly swollen or deformed knee could mean a fracture or dislocation has occurred: immediate attention must be given to this and a doctor consulted in order to prevent further and long-lasting damage.
  5. In case the pain lasts for weeks despite treating it with the RICE method. RICE stands for Rest Ice Compression Elevation. If the pain or swelling persists after a week or so of RICE, could possibly mean a tear in the muscle or cartilage or a minor injury. Only a doctor can help correct this.
  6. In case there is instability in knee movement after a couple of days, the knee might seem to move in the wrong direction; could mean knee ligament damage. The knee ligaments keep the knee joints stable and provide support. These could be torn or injured if the knee is unstable. An injury should not be ruled out if there is difficulty supporting the entire body on one leg compared to the other.

An orthopaedic doctor must be consulted immediately in case a person is experiencing these symptoms & get knee pain treatment, as the damage can become severe and lifelong, if left undiagnosed and untreated.

Dr. Aashish Chaudhry
Managing Director & Sr. Consultant
Orthopaedics & Joint Replacement

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