When to Worry About Persistent Knee Pain

When to Worry About Persistent Knee Pain

You’ve noticed twinges in your knee for a while, and lately, the discomfort has morphed into more than a minor annoyance. You’re in pain. 

Your knee joints have a tiring job; they carry the weight of your body. Pain is a signal that something in the joint is hurt and needs attention. A delay in getting to the doctor may mean further joint damage. 

Our board-certified orthopedics surgeons at Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine diagnose and treat many knee injuries and conditions. If you have persistent knee pain, please call our office for an appointment. We’ll determine the best course of action for your knee problem. 

Common reasons for knee pain 

If you’ve had a fall or sports-related injury and have knee pain that prevents you from accomplishing your normal daily tasks, you need to come in for an appointment to have it diagnosed and treated. Not doing so can lead to further damage. 

Maybe your knee pain developed gradually from mild discomfort. You may have an overuse injury or arthritis. If you’ve played a sport such as tennis or other racquet sport, basketball, or football, all of which involve running, jumping, or pivoting quickly, you’re at increased risk of a knee injury. 

Your job may place you at a higher risk of knee pain. Warehouse work that involves heavy lifting can cause an overuse injury. 

Many Americans are overweight or obese. If you’re in that category, you’re putting excess weight on your knee joints. The more force on your knees over a long period of time, the faster the cartilage thins and wears down. 

Knee injuries and conditions 

Common knee problems include arthritis, sprains, tears, tendonitis, and fractures.

Arthritis 

One common complaint is knee arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type, but some patients have rheumatoid arthritis in the knee. You may get a slow start to your day because your knees are extra stiff in the morning, making it hard to move. 

It’s important to start treating arthritis sooner rather than later. Your treatment may begin with a cortisone shot for osteoarthritis, along with physical therapy. Research shows that physical therapy lessens pain and improves range of motion. 

Regenerative medicine treatments such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) give some patients extra time before surgery is required or may eliminate the need for surgery. 

Advanced knee arthritis impedes normal movement during the day and means a partial or full knee replacement is likely on the horizon. Sometimes the cartilage is too thin or degraded for physical therapy to work, and you’re bone-on-bone with severe pain. 

Sprains and tears 

Your knee joint contains four ligaments and three tendons along with bone, muscles, and connective tissue. If you’ve been in an accident or had a fall, you may have a sprain (a stretched ligament) or a ligament tear. Medication, physical therapy, and/or PRP help with sprains and some partial tears. 

If your ligament has been severed, surgery is most often the answer. Surgery knits the parts of the ligament together and provides the stability needed if you want to continue to play sports. 

Tendonitis 

Tendonitis is an overuse injury and a common reason for knee pain. Running, twisting, and jumping can cause microscopic tears in a knee tendon, resulting in inflammation that causes pain. If your kneecap hurts, you may have patellar tendonitis near where your tendon joins your shinbone. 

Use the RICE method for tendonitis: rest, ice, compression, and elevation, plus medication for pain relief. You may need physical therapy to reduce pain and regain range of motion. 

Fractures 

Falls and other accidents can result in knee fractures. If the bones aren’t displaced, we may use a brace, splint, or cast on your knee to protect it while you heal. Knee fractures take about 6-8 weeks to heal. 

Your doctor lets you know when you can put weight on the knee. After your healing starts, physical therapy helps you return to normal function. 

Call Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine or book an appointment through our online portal if you have ongoing knee pain. We’re conveniently located in West Memphis, Arkansas, and Collierville, Tennessee, to bring your joints back to health. 

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