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Life in Motion

Knee Pain: When to See a Doctor

Joint Health

Knee pain is one of the most common reasons for doctors’ visits. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, nearly 1 in 17 people visit the doctor each year with the complaint. NEBH orthopedic surgeon Geoffrey Van Flandern, MD, explains that there are times when you should seek immediate care, and other times where you can try taking care of yourself before seeing a doctor.

When to Seek Immediate Care

Seek immediate care if you experience any of the following:

• A knee joint that appears deformed
• If you heard a “popping” noise when you injured your knee
• You have difficulty walking are unable to bear weight on your knee
• Sudden swelling, redness or a warm feeling on the knee
• You are in intense pain

When to Try At-Home Remedies

If you experience knee pain after trying a new activity, or after performing an activity that is more strenuous than usual, you can probably wait a day or two to see if it resolves on its own.

If you experience a minor injury, like a knee sprain, the R.I.C.E. method is a good treatment to start with:

• Rest: Avoid putting weight on your knee.
• Ice: Ice your knee as soon as possible after you injure it.
• Compression: Wrap your knee in a bandage or compression wrap to support the limb and to reduce swelling.
• Elevate: Elevate your knee to help reduce swelling.

Using these immediate first aid measures is believed to relieve pain, limit swelling and protect the injured soft tissue. If the pain persists or gets worse, it is time to see an orthopedic specialist.

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