Knee Pain Overview
When to Go to the Hospital for Knee Pain
If you cannot put weight on your knee, feel sick, or have a fever or if your knee is red and hot, you should consider going to the ER to be evaluated by a doctor because of the possibility of a fracture or infection.
- Many fractures may require immobilization in a specific position or surgery.
- Infections need immediate attention. They can be managed but require prompt care.
- Putting off seeing a doctor may hinder healing.
Other signs and symptoms that demand emergency evaluation:
- Unbearable pain
- Pain that does not improve with rest
- Pain that wakes you
- Large wounds
- Puncture wounds
- Swelling, if you are on a blood thinner (warfarin or Coumadin) or have a bleeding disorder (such as hemophilia)
Getting a Knee Pain Diagnosis
History: Even in today's world of technology, doctors rely on a detailed history and physical exam more than any single test.
The doctor will typically want to know the exact nature of the pain.
- Where in the knee is your pain?
- What does the pain feel like?
- How long has the pain been present?
- Has it happened before?
- Describe any injuries to the knee.
- What makes it better or worse?
- Does the knee pain wake you up at night?
- Does the knee feel unstable?
- Have you been limping?
The doctor will also want to know a bit about you.
- Do you have any major medical problems?
- How active is your lifestyle?
- What are the names of the medications you are taking?
The doctor will want to know about any related symptoms.
- Do you still have normal sensation in your foot and lower leg?
- Have you been having fevers?
- The doctor will likely have you disrobe to completely expose the knee. If possible, wear shorts to your appointment.
- The doctor will then inspect the knee and press around the knee to see exactly where it is tender.
- In addition, the doctor may perform a number of maneuvers to stress the ligaments, tendons, and menisci of the knee and evaluate the integrity of each of these.