My Knee Hurts. What Should I Do Next? – Acute or Chronic Knee Pain

 In Knee Injuries, orthopedics
Use your judgement if you have knee pain, but if in doubt, consult a medical professional or knee specialist.
There are 2 general categories of knee pain and problems;
1. acute injury or
2. damage from chronic overuse


An acute injury would be from a twist or an impact.  Often this results in sprains and strains and knee pain.

Examples of acute injuries include:
  • MCL sprain
  • torn ACL
  • acutely torn cartilage or meniscus
  • fracture
Although overuse injuries may pop up, the condition develops over time.  Examples of overuse injuries causing knee pain include:
  • patellofemoral pain
  • tendinitis
  • ITB syndrome
  • osteoarthritis
All knee problems come in varying degrees of severity.  As a rule, the amount of pain and swelling correlate to the degree of tissue injury.   One of the first questions I ask is, “could you continue to play after you injured your knee?”  If so, this suggests an injury may be more minor in nature.  The next question is “Is the knee problem getting better, worse, or no different?”  A worsening situation would definitely require a visit to the knee specialist.
There are several signs that would suggest a significant injury, ie, that which requires medical attention:
If you cant bear any weight on your injured knee
If the knee that is locked in one position, so it is difficult to bend or straighten
A large amount of swelling, so the skin around the knee or calf is very tight
Warmth or redness or fever that would suggest an infection.
Rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) are good rules of thumb.  Again, use your judgement.  In doubt, consult a professional or knee specialist.
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knee pain, knee diagnosis