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Does this describe your symptoms?
Causes of Knee Pain
- Arthritis (e.g., degenerative, gouty, infectious, inflammatory, traumatic)
- Baker's Cyst (popliteal cyst): This is a fluid collection in a cyst that bulges out from the knee joint. Symptoms include painful or painless swelling in the area behind the knee.
- Bursitis: Prepatellar bursitis is a fluid filled sack localized on the inferior aspect of the anterior knee.
- Overuse injury, tendonitis
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome (chondromalacia patellae)
- Trauma (e.g., contusion, dislocation, fracture, sprain, strain)
Some Signs and Symptoms That Could be SERIOUS
- Severe pain and unable to walk
- Knee swelling with fever (possibility of infection of knee joint)
- Unilateral calf pain and/or swelling (possibility of blood clot in leg)
If not, see these topics
|Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If|
- You feel weak or very sick
- Severe pain (can't stand or walk)
- Fever and swollen knee joint
- Redness of skin around knee
- Pain or swelling in one calf
|Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If|
- You think you need to be seen
|Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If|
- You have other questions or concerns
- Swollen knee joint
- Fluid-filled sack just below knee cap
- Symptoms interfere with work or school
- Knee pain persists longer than 7 days
- Knee pain is a recurrent problem
- Knee giving way (or buckling) when walking, is a recurrent problem
- Knee locking (i.e., joint gets stuck, catching), is a recurrent problem
|Self Care at Home If|
- Mild knee pain and you don't think you need to be seen
HOME CARE ADVICE FOR A MILD KNEE PAIN
And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
- Knee Pain after Overuse: Muscle strain and joint irritation are very common following vigorous activity. Such activities include sports like tennis and basketball, jogging, and certain types of work.
- Local Cold: Apply a cold pack or ice bag (wrapped in a moist towel) to the area for 20 minutes. Repeat in 1 hour, then every 4 hours while awake. Continue this for the first 48 hours after an overuse injury (Reason: reduce the swelling and pain).
- Local Heat: Beginning 48 hours after an injury, apply a warm washcloth or heating pad for 10 minutes three times a day to help increase circulation and improve healing.
- Rest Your Knee for the next couple days. Avoid activities that worsen your pain. Reduce activities that put a lot of strain on the knee joint (e.g., deep knee bends, stair climbing, running).
- Pain Medication:
- For pain relief, take acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol): The dose is 650 mg by mouth every 4 hours or 1000 mg by mouth every 6 hours. Maximum dose per day = 4000 mg.
- Ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin, Advil): The dose is 400 mg by mouth every 6 hours or 600 mg by mouth every 8 hours.
- People who are over 65 Years of age: Acetaminophen is generally considered safer than ibuprofen. Acetaminophen dosing interval should be increased to every 8 hours because of reduced liver metabolism. Maximum dose per day = 3000 mg.
- CAUTION: Do not take ibuprofen if you have stomach problems, kidney disease, are pregnant, or have been told by your doctor to avoid this type of anti-inflammatory drug. Do not take ibuprofen for more than 7 days without consulting your doctor.
- CAUTION: Do not take acetaminophen if you have liver disease.
- Read the package instructions thoroughly on all medications that you take.
- Expected Course: If your knee pain does not get better during the next week or if it recurs, then you should make an appointment with your doctor.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Knee pain persists longer than 7 days
- You become worse
Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: David A. Thompson, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 1/19/2009
Last Revised: 4/5/2008
Content Set: Adult HouseCalls Online
Portions Copyright 2000-2009 Self Care Decisions LLC; Copyright LMS, Inc.