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If you are experiencing knee pain, the first question you may ask is should I go to the emergency room for knee pain? The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including the severity of your pain and your overall health. In this blog post, we will discuss the symptoms of knee pain that may warrant a visit to the ER and what you can expect if you decide to go.
The Knee Joint
Before making an informed decision on whether or not you should go to the emergency room for your knee pain, it is imperative you know about the joint in question.
The knee joint is the largest joint in the body. A hinge joint allows the leg to bend and straighten. This movement occurs at the point where the thigh bone (femur) meets the shinbone (tibia). The femur and tibia are connected by ligaments, which are strong bands of tissue that provide stability to the knee.
The knee joint has four main ligaments:
– The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is located on the inner side of the knee.
– The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is located on the outer side of the knee.
– The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) crosses in the middle of the knee from the front to the back.
– The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) crosses in the middle of the knee from the back to the front.
These ligaments provide stability while the meniscus, a crescent-shaped piece of cartilage, cushions the knee. The shock absorption that the meniscus provides is essential to protecting the knee joint.
Conditions That Cause Knee Pain
There are many conditions that can cause knee pain. Some of the more common conditions include:
Arthritis: Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint. There are many different types of arthritis, but the two most common types that affect the knee are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions the knee joint. This can be a result of age, injury, or obesity. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the joint lining (synovium).
Broken bone: A broken bone (fracture) in the knee can occur as a result of a fall, car accident, or other high-impact trauma.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome: Also known as “runner’s knee,” this condition is caused by the repetitive stress of impact activities, such as running or jumping. It is characterized by pain in the front of the knee and around the patella (knee cap). As you would expect this injury is common to the lower leg of individuals with a high activity level.
Dislocated knee: A dislocated knee occurs when the bones that make up the joint are no longer in alignment. This can be a very painful injury and may require surgery to correct.
Knee bursitis: Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between the bones and tissues of the body. Knee bursitis is the inflammation of one or more of these bursae. This condition is often caused by overuse or repetitive motion.
Meniscus tear: As we mentioned before, the meniscus is a crescent-shaped piece of cartilage that cushions the knee joint. A meniscus tear is a common knee injury that can occur when the knee is twisted or turned abruptly.
Tendonitis: Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon. The tendons are the tissues that connect the muscles to the bones. Tendonitis of the knee is often caused by overuse or repetitive motion.
Torn ligament: A torn ligament is a very serious knee injury that can occur as a result of a fall, a non-contact sports injury, car accident, or other high-impact trauma.
Symptoms That May Warrant a Trip to the ER
There are many different symptoms of knee pain, but some of the more common symptoms include:
– severe pain
– warmth to the touch
– difficulty walking or bearing weight on the affected leg
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention right away. While knee pain is often the result of a minor injury or condition, it can also be a sign of something more serious.
If you are unsure whether or not you should go to the emergency room, you should always err on the side of caution and seek medical attention. The doctors and nurses at the ER will be able to evaluate your symptoms and determine the best course of treatment.
An ER visit for knee pain is often not a life-threatening situation, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. So, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, don’t hesitate to head to the nearest emergency room.
Types of Knee Pain
There are two main types of knee pain:
– Acute: Acute knee pain is the result of a sudden or serious injury, such as a fall or car accident. This type of pain is often severe and can make it difficult to walk or bear weight on the affected leg.
– Chronic: Chronic knee pain is usually the result of an underlying condition, such as arthritis or patellofemoral pain syndrome. This type of pain is often less severe than acute pain, but it can still be debilitating.
While both types can produce severe pain, the sharp pain associated with acute pain is generally designated as “severe”. It is safe to say that the persistent and nagging pain associated with chronic knee pain can also be very severe, and heavily impact patients’ lives.
Should I go to the Emergency Room For Knee Pain?
The main reason that you should go to the emergency department for knee pain is if you suspect it is a medical emergency. This means that to deal with the pain you would need highly specialized personnel like an orthopedic surgeon, orthopedic doctors, and relatively immediate medical attention.
An orthopedic specialist should only be seen in an emergency room for knee pain if the pain is so severe that it keeps you from being able to walk, or if there is an open wound on your knee. If you have a very high fever or red streaks going up your leg, those are also signs that you should seek emergency medical attention for your knee pain.
In general, if the pain is manageable and does not feel like an emergency, it is best to seek an appointment with your primary care physician or an orthopedic specialist to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Many times x-rays or MRIs will be ordered to rule out any serious knee conditions. If you have had previous injuries to your knee, be sure to mention this to your physician, as it can help with diagnosis.
Treatment for Knee Pain
There are many different treatment options for knee pain, depending on the underlying cause. Some common treatments include:
– physical therapy
– weight loss
– braces or supports
– pain medication
If you are experiencing knee pain, the best course of action is to consult with a medical professional. They will be able to evaluate your symptoms and determine the best course of treatment for you.
Physical Therapy for Knee Pain
One of the most common treatments for knee pain is physical therapy. Physical therapy can help to reduce pain, improve range of motion, and increase strength. A physical therapist will design a customized treatment plan based on your individual needs.
The goal of physical therapy is to help you return to your normal activities as soon as possible. Treatment may include exercises, stretches, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound. Physical therapy can be performed in a clinic or at home.
If you are experiencing knee pain, contact your doctor to discuss whether physical therapy may be right for you.
Exercise for Knee Pain
Exercise is often recommended as a treatment for knee pain. Exercise can help to improve range of motion, increase strength, and reduce pain.
When starting an exercise program for knee pain, it is important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. It is also important to choose low-impact activities that will not put too much stress on your knees. Some good exercises for knee pain include walking, swimming, and cycling.
If you are unsure of what exercises to do, or how to start an exercise program, talk to your doctor or a physical therapist. They can help you create a safe and effective workout plan.
Surgery for Knee Pain
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat knee pain. Surgery is typically only recommended if other treatments have not been successful in relieving pain.
There are many different types of knee surgery, and the type that you will need will depend on the underlying cause of your pain. Some common types of knee surgery include:
– total knee replacement
– partial knee replacement
– ligament reconstruction
If you are considering surgery for knee pain, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits. They will be able to help you decide if surgery is right for you.
Overview of Emergency Room Visit for Knee Pain
Before going to the ER room it is important to know what to expect. When arriving at the urgent care facility, you will be asked to fill out forms identifying the issue that brought you to the hospital. After completing the forms you will patiently complete the rest of your wait time, prior to being treated for your injured knee.
Then the physician will come into the room and ask more specific questions about your knee pain. After listening to your answers they will order tests, which may include an x-ray, MRI, or CT scan. The results of these tests will help the doctor determine if you need to be seen by a specialist or if you can be treated with medication and/or physical therapy.
While getting these answers may seem daunting and time-consuming it is a good idea to receive all the necessary information from the medical personnel to get a clear answer on what is wrong with your knee. These clear answers will ensure you get the appropriate treatment plan based on the type or severity of the injury you are dealing with.
Other Medical Facilities You Could Utilize
There are other medical facilities that can provide answers to your knee pain such as an orthopedic doctor, sports medicine doctor, or rheumatologist.
These doctors will also be able to order tests and give you a clear diagnosis of what is going on with your knee. After getting a diagnosis from one of these specialists they may also treat you or refer you to someone who can help treat your knee pain.
It is a good idea to consult with your primary care physician to see what type of doctor you should be seeing for your knee pain. They will likely have a referral for you to see an orthopedic or sports medicine doctor in your area.
If you are experiencing knee pain, it is important to consult with a medical professional. They will be able to evaluate your symptoms and determine the best course of treatment for you. Physical therapy and exercise are often recommended as treatments for knee pain.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat knee pain. If you are considering surgery, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits. They will be able to help you decide if surgery is right for you.