When To Call a Doctor
Call your doctor immediately if you have an injury to your knee and:
- You have severe pain in your
- Your knee appears to be deformed.
- You have signs
of damage to the nerves or blood vessels. Signs include numbness, tingling, a
"pins-and-needles" sensation below the injury, an inability to move your leg
below the injury, pale or bluish skin, or your leg feels cold.
- You have severe swelling in your knee right after the injury.
Call your doctor today if:
- Your knee begins to swell within 2 hours of the
- You hear or feel a pop in your knee during an
- Your knee won't bear weight.
- You are unable to
straighten your leg completely.
- Your knee is unstable, buckles, or
- Your knee "locks" in one position.
- You have
anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in the past,
and you have reinjured your knee.
Before your appointment, don't put weight on the injured
knee. Use crutches if you need to.
Apply ice and wrap your knee in an elastic bandage or
neoprene (synthetic rubber) sleeve. Rest and elevate the knee. Take a
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve), to reduce
swelling. For more information on first aid steps, see Home Treatment.
Watchful waiting is a period of time during
which you and your doctor observe your symptoms or condition without using
medical treatment. Watchful waiting is not appropriate if knee pain is severe;
if your knee is deformed, swells, or has limited movement immediately after an injury; or if you are unable
to bear any weight because of either pain or instability.
knee injuries need to be checked for possible broken bones as well as
cartilage damage. Whenever immediate swelling follows
an injury, there also may be torn blood vessels or damaged nerves in the knee.
Your doctor will check your knee to make sure the blood supply to your leg is
normal and the nerves are intact.
If you have occasional pain in
your knee or your knee sometimes gives way or buckles, have your doctor check
it. If you have damaged your ACL, it is important to get treatment so that your
knee is appropriately managed. This may reduce the chance that you will get
osteoarthritis in your knee.
Who to see
Knee problems can be diagnosed by:
If surgery is considered, you may be referred to an
orthopedic surgeon (possibly a sports medicine
specialist) who is experienced in knee surgery.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.