Most of us will experience knee pain every now and again, and it’s usually nothing to think twice about. However, sometimes due to age, our lifestyle, a recent injury or even medical predispositions, knee pain can become bothersome enough to seek medical treatment. If at-home remedies aren’t working, when should you worry about your knee pain?
According to Christopher S. Warrell, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at Orlando Orthopaedic Center, there are a number of things you can do to treat mild knee pain at home, but you also need to know the limitations of self-treatment and when it’s time to see a specialist.
What Qualifies as Real Knee Pain?
Knee pain is reported to affect 1 in 5 people, and its incidence and severity of symptoms increase with age. Moreover, knee pain can both cause and can result from osteoarthritis, a degeneration of the cartilage of the knee.
“Knee pain can result from specific injuries and conditions and can cause different symptoms,” says Dr. Warrell.
Some of the common signs of knee pain include:
- Restricted movement
- Decreased muscle control
- Reduced strength
- Lack of mobility
- Pain in or around the knee joint
Knee injuries typically occur through sporting or recreational activities, slips and falls, car accidents, or other random accidents. Tearing of the ligaments or knee cartilage is not uncommon and can take months or even years to heal if proper treatment isn’t administered fully. Knee pain can also be the result of lifestyle choices and medical predispositions.
Treating Mild Knee Pain at Home
Often, after an awkward movement or a small tweak or twinge in the knee, it can merely take a few days for the knee to rest and reset, and for pain to subside. In fact, pushing yourself and testing your knee’s limits during this fragile period can sometimes aggravate the injury.
Dr. Warrell recommends some tried and true methods to alleviate mild knee discomfort.
“If you have a little discomfort, and your knee hurts when you’re more active and moving around,” says Dr. Warrell, “I encourage you to try resting it and applying ice, compression, and elevation. The classic RICE method works as one of the standard at-home treatments you can do when you’re having just a little bit of pain. You could also take anti-inflammatory medicine.”
When Should You Consult an Orthopaedic Specialist?
According to Dr. Warrell, more adverse knee symptoms may require the expertise of an orthopaedic specialist, particularly if you notice serious inflammation, or experience new sensations in the knee that weren’t there before.
“You should be a little bit more concerned if you develop significant swelling of the knee, if you have any new popping and clicking in the knee that you didn’t have prior to your injury, and certainly if you have any instability in the knee,” says Dr. Warrell.
“If the knee is giving out on you, that warrants a good checkup. You should come in, let somebody check you, examine your knee, and see exactly what’s going on.”