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Knee Pain Overview (cont.)

When to Call the Doctor About Knee Pain

When you are deciding whether to call the doctor, a good rule of thumb exists for most long-term knee injuries. If your symptoms have not gone away after trying three to seven days of PRICE therapy and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medications, you should set up an appointment with your doctor or a sports medicine or orthopedic (bone and muscle) specialist to further evaluate the pain. This rule can also be applied to new knee injuries that are not disabling. Any knee injury that makes it impossible for you to walk should be evaluated as soon as possible. Remember, however, that this rule should only serve as a guide. If you are concerned about the pain, you should call the doctor.

When to Go to the Hospital for Knee Pain

  • If you cannot walk on your knee and you have had a traumatic injury, you should immediately go to the hospital's emergency department or urgent care center to be evaluated by a doctor because of the possibility of a fracture or significant ligamentous or tendon injury.
    • Many fractures may require immobilization in a specific position or surgery.
    • Putting off seeing a doctor may hinder healing.
  • Other signs and symptoms that demand emergency evaluation:
    • Fever
    • (which may indicate infection)
    • Unbearable pain
    • Drainage
    • Large wounds
    • Puncture wounds
    • Swelling, if you are on a blood thinner (warfarin
    • or Coumadin) or have a bleeding disorder (such as hemophilia)
    • Swelling that is associated with redness and the knee feeling warm
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2016

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Soft tissue injuries of the knee are some of the most common and clinically challenging musculoskeletal disorders in patients presenting to the ED.

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