It can often be difficult to determine whether or not your knee pain is something that should be evaluated by a specialist. For many, rest and the use of over the counter medications is helpful. However, if your knee pain is becoming chronic and interfering with your daily life, it may be time to see an orthopedic specialist. Below are 4 signs that you should consult an orthopedic specialist.
1. You have Pain in Front of Your Knee
If you have pain in front of your knee when transitioning from a sitting to a standing position, or when you bend your knees, it may be a sign of cartilage inflammation or degeneration of the cartilage behind your kneecap. It is important to have this condition addressed as cartilage inflammation can be progressive and can result in increased pain and weakness with activities such as climbing stairs, kneeling or squatting. Usually this condition can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications, bracing, activity modification and physical therapy.
2. Your Knee Locks Up
If you have episodic catching or locking of your knee occurring while walking, then you may have a torn meniscus or possibly a loose piece of cartilage or bone (loose body) causing these symptoms. Usually this can be diagnosed by examining the knee in conjunction with an MRI.
Treatment usually can be accomplished with minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery to address the torn cartilage or to remove the loose body.
3. Your Knee Gives Out
The knee giving out, or buckling, is a nonspecific reflex of the quadriceps muscle that occurs when the knee is in a painful position and the quadriceps muscle releases causing the knee to buckle.
Several conditions can cause the knee to give out and it is important to have the specific cause diagnosed by an orthopedic specialist to start the appropriate treatment to prevent the progression of this painful condition.
One of the most common reasons this condition occurs is due to patellofemoral problems (usually inflammation between the kneecap and the thigh bone). In other cases, buckling of the knee can be caused by instability of the kneecap due to repeated dislocations of the kneecap. Another cause of buckling can be from instability caused by ligament injuries such as an ACL tear.
The diagnosis and appropriate treatment regimen for this condition are crucial to successfully treating this condition.
4. Pain is Radiating to the Back of Your Knee
Pain in the back of the knee can be something that happens immediately after a traumatic injury or something that progresses over time. The pain usually gets worse when walking, running, squatting or climbing stairs. Several conditions can cause this type of pain and include arthritic conditions, tears of the back portion of the meniscus or, in some cases, from a large Bakers Cyst, which is a collection of joint fluid that forms in the back of the knee.
Assessment by an orthopedic surgeon can diagnose the problem causing the pain and tailor a treatment plan that is specific for the problem.
Dr. Nicholas Alexander is the Founder of Mahwah Valley Orthopedic Associates and a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of hip and knee conditions. Dr. Alexander completed his Fellowship in Adult Reconstruction and Reconstructive Surgery of the Hip and Knee at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and has over two decades of experience. He also serves as the Chairman of the Valley Hospital Total Joint Center. Dr. Alexander has offices in Mahwah and Clifton, NJ. If you, or someone you love, is considering treatment for chronic knee pain, contact us today for a consultation.