Your knee is a complex joint that gets a lot of action, so it’s prone to several injuries. Some develop slowly over the years; others happen in the blink of an eye. You might be tempted to ignore pain and weakness, but they can lead to chronic problems affecting your gait and mobility.
We see all types of knee conditions at Performance Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. Our patients throughout Toms River, Wall Township, and Shrewsbury, New Jersey, often tell us that they weren’t sure if they needed to seek our help and ask us what type of knee pain warrants medical attention.
Here, our team explains some of the most common causes of knee pain and the signs that you can benefit from our expert care.
When to see our specialists for knee pain
Pain is a warning sign that something is wrong; it’s not something you should live with long term. However, occasional soreness from a long day of gardening or playing a pick-up game of hoops on the weekend typically doesn’t require medical attention. Here’s a brief guide to help you determine when to seek help for knee pain.
Treat this type of knee pain at home
Mild tenderness after excessive use is usually temporary and can be treated at home with the RICE method — rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can ease the discomfort.
If your knee pain develops gradually, it may be due to osteoarthritis. Often called the wear-and-tear type of arthritis, this disease occurs when the protective cartilage wears down from years of use. Mild cases can benefit from OTC medication, the RICE method, and activity modification.
Make an appointment with us for this type of knee pain
If you’ve been involved in an accident or sports incident that involved your knee, you may have injured the joint. You should call to schedule an appointment with our team if your knee:
- Is significantly swollen
- Appears red, bruised, or discolored
- Is painful
- Feels warm to the touch
These are signs of joint damage caused by strained ligaments, torn cartilage, or meniscus damage. If you have these symptoms but had no forceful impact accident, you may have bursitis or tendonitis, which also require medical attention.
Seek immediate medical attention for this type of knee pain
An acute traumatic injury may need urgent medical attention. Call us right away if you:
- Heard a popping sound in your knee upon impact
- Have a deformed knee joint
- Have intense pain
- Notice extreme swelling
- Can’t bear weight on your leg
These symptoms point to potential fractures, dislocations, or severe ACL injuries.
When to see our specialists for chronic knee pain
Knee pain that lasts for three months or longer is considered chronic, and it can stem from a variety of underlying causes. Although you may be able to lessen the severity of your symptoms with self-care, chronic knee pain usually doesn’t resolve on its own without treatment.
Chronic knee pain may be due to:
- Arthritis: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout
- Ligament injuries
- Cartilage damage
Chronic knee pain can also plague you if you:
- Overuse your knees
- Kneel for long periods
- Have poor posture
- Wear unsupportive shoes
- Fail to warm up before physical activity
- Perform athletic moves like jumping incorrectly
Advanced age, high-impact exercise like running, and previous injuries all put you at risk for chronic knee pain. With chronic knee pain, you’ll feel constant achiness and dull discomfort with occasional sharp pains.
We treat chronic knee pain according to the underlying cause. We may recommend physical therapy, injections, and/or medication to ease your symptoms and promote healing.
In some cases, we may perform arthroscopic surgery, a minimally invasive technique that allows us to see the inside of your knee anatomy to arrive at a more accurate diagnosis and repair damage.
Severe osteoarthritis and fractures may necessitate a total knee replacement. If so, your knee is in good hands with our experts at Performance Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. We specialize in the Mako® Total Knee Replacement Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery. This allows us to create a precise surgical plan based on a digital 3D model of your knee and perform the procedure with the aid of a highly precise robotic arm that we control.
Don’t live with acute or chronic knee pain — contact us at any of our three Performance Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine locations, and let us help you stand, walk, and jump without pain.