Approximately 20 percent of Americans have had to deal with knee pain, with this problem being more common in women than in men. While in some cases it isn't serious, any knee pain does warrant a visit to the doctor as some potential causes of knee pain require treatment if you don't want the problem to get worse.
Strains and sprains are among the most common causes of knee pain, along with arthritis, gout, and fractures. Overuse can also bring on knee pain in the form of bursitis or tendinitis. Hip or foot problems can cause a person to change the way they move, putting extra stress on the knee and causing it to become painful. Additionally, the increased pressure that being overweight puts on the knee joint can lead to knee pain. If there's another injury nearby, a small bit of cartilage or bone may shift into the knee and cause pain as well. Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, or the cartilage between your shin and thigh bones, called the meniscus, are also somewhat common.
Dealing With Knee Pain
One of the standard treatments for knee pain is to rest your knee, applying ice for 15 minutes about three times per day for the first two or three days after the injury to help reduce any swelling, then using heat the next few days. Try wearing a compression bandage to further limit swelling and elevating your knee whenever you can. Using a cushioned insert in your shoes and losing any extra weight you may be carrying can also help minimize pain in some cases. Some people also find acupuncture to be beneficial.
While rest can be beneficial, with many knee pain issues it's also good to get at least a little exercise to keep the knee from stiffening up or getting weak and to strengthen the knee and make further injuries less likely. Strengthening the other muscles around the knee, such as those in the butt, legs, and abdomen will help keep the knee stable. Just avoid high-impact or jarring types of exercising, such as those that include jumping. Your knee pain doctor or physical therapist can advise you on what type of stretching, cardio, and strengthening exercises are suitable given the issue causing the knee pain.
Seeing a Doctor
If your knee is too painful to hold any weight, you can't fully straighten or bend your leg, you have a lot of swelling in the knee, or your knee starts to be unstable and give out, you should definitely visit a doctor. The same is true if you have a fever along with knee swelling or your leg or knee looks like something is obviously out of place. Start by visiting your primary care doctor to determine what the potential cause could be. Your doctor may recommend a specialist, such as a rheumatologist if he or she suspects gout or arthritis may be the problem. Alternatively, your doctor may recommend an orthopedic surgeon if your injury is likely to require surgery.
For more information, talk to companies like Pottstown Surgical Associates.