10 Signs You Should See a Doctor About Your Knee Pain

Noyes Knee Institute Signature

Published On

Aug 25, 2016


Patient Education

You may deal with little aches and pains fairly often, especially if you live an active life or work on your feet. You probably postpone seeing a doctor about this discomfort, deciding that if you wait for a little while the sensation will subside.

Sometimes, this theory holds true, but what about the cases where it doesn’t? In this blog, we list 10 warning signs that justify a trip to your doctor or an orthopedic surgeon to talk about knee pain.

1. Deformity of the Joint

Look at your knees next to each other. If your affected knee appears misshapen compared to your healthy knee, you may have a fracture, dislocated knee cap, or patella injury.

2. Difficulty Walking

When your knee pain progresses enough to give you a limp or make you avoid walking, see a doctor. Pain of this intensity can indicate a bone injury or a degenerative condition.

3. Inability to Hold Weight

When you stand up, do you feel the need to shift your weight away from your bad knee? If your affected knee cannot hold your weight, seek help. This symptom can indicate a range of knee conditions, all of which require medical care to address.

4. Knee Instability

If you notice that your knee wobbles or feels like it will collapse, seek medical help. Generally, joint instability indicates a ligament problem, which may become worse if you continue using your knee as usual.

5. Less Sensation in the Knee

While many knee issues cause pain, lack of pain can also indicate a serious health concern. If you have leg or knee pain that doesn’t increase when you press on the knee, the discomfort may stem from sciatica or another non-knee condition.

6. Long-Term Pain or Discomfort

If you try to wait out your pain and it doesn’t seem to go away, a doctor can help. Generally, athletes should see a healthcare provider for pain lasting more than 48 hours and other adults should see an expert if there seems to be no change for three weeks.

7. Pain That Affects Your Daily Activities

Generally, most healthcare providers recommend that you schedule an appointment as soon as you notice that your symptoms impact the way you live. If knee pain makes your commute more frustrating, your afternoon jog uncomfortable, or your job more difficult, have a professional evaluate the joint.

8. Pain That Affects Sleep

Many patients with knee issues have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep because of it. If your knee pain keeps you up, seek help.

9. Redness or Swelling Around the Joint

Like deformity of your knee joint, changes in the shape and color of your knee can indicate serious problems. If you notice redness or swelling, touch the area to see if you feel any tenderness or warmth. These symptoms can be signs of infection.

10. Reduced Range of Motion

When your knee becomes injured, it may swell internally. This swelling can reduce your range of motion, making it difficult to straighten or bend your leg completely. If you notice a decreased range of motion that lasts for more than 24 hours, see a doctor.

Don’t try to wait out knee pain.  If you experience any combination of the symptoms listed above, seek medical help. If your symptoms seem minor or infrequent, start with your general practitioner. He or she can help you decide whether or not to see a specialist.

If you notice a sudden change in your symptoms or you experience symptoms of high intensity, schedule an evaluation with a knee expert, especially if you’re an athlete.

If you experience extreme symptoms, such as a high fever, seek emergency medical care immediately.