Knee Pain: Should You See a Doctor or Just Wait It Out?
Four out of every five knee pain cases resolve by themselves. But sometimes it’s important to see a doctor. Let’s look at why knee pain is so common and four aspects of your symptoms that mean you should see a doctor.
Most knee pain goes away
Everyone has aches and pains that they occasionally experience. Sometimes they aren’t cause for alarm – and in fact, that’s true in the vast majority of cases. “Eighty percent of the knee problems people have will resolve by themselves within a period of time,” explains Robert Gotlin, DO, of Beth Israel Medical Center. When certain symptoms are present, though, it is important to go to the doctor.
Let’s look at why knee injury statistics are so high and four times your knee pain symptoms require a doctor.
Why knee pain is so common
Knee pain is incredibly common among American adults. In fact, it is the second most diagnosed pain condition (present in 19.5% of chronic pain patients, behind low back pain at 28.1%), according to data from the CDC.
The reason the knees are so frequently injured is that, in the general course of life, they are made subject to a huge amount of force: multiple times your full weight. When you walk down the sidewalk or through a room, the amount of pressure on your knees is 1.5 times your weight, according to Harvard Medical School. When you go up or down stairs, they experience 2-3 times your weight; when you squat, they are sustaining 4-5 times your weight.
So, knee pain is common because the knee has to carry a tremendously heavy load. How do you know when your knee pain symptoms say it’s wise to see a doctor?
#1 – Difficulty walking
Are you having trouble walking? That could mean you have a bone injury or another major condition.
#2 – Sudden appearance of redness, swelling, or a warm feeling
Inflammation, redness, and an increased temperature at the knee are warnings that you should take seriously as well. Those symptoms can signal a septic joint, in which your knee’s bursa are infected.
#3 – Pressing doesn’t hurt
Knee pain is often referred or radiated from other parts of the body. For instance, in sciatica, a spinal disk in the lower back impinges a nerve, which in turn causes pain throughout the length of the nerve, including the knee. A basic simple test to determine the source of your pain is to see if the pain increases when you press on the area. If not, it’s important to see a doctor and figure out the root source.
#4 – Lasting pain
One final warning that you need to see a doctor is simply that the pain doesn’t go away. If you think you may have sprained your knee, the best do-it-yourself treatment is the RICE method: rest, ice, compression (with bandages), and elevation. If a couple weeks pass without any improvement, it’s time to see a doctor. “Whatever it is, it’s an injury that the body can’t handle by itself,” explains Gotlin. “It needs some outside help.”
Are you suffering from knee pain and in need of a doctor? At Health Star Clinic, we work to correct the underlying health problem with a balance of medical treatments, chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy. See our New Patient Promises.