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What Doctor to See for Knee Pain?

Do you suffer from knee pain and have no idea who to see about it? It seems as if there is a definite medical specialist for every part of the body. You can see a doctor specifically for your foot, for your eyes, for your ears, stomach, and everything else. However, many people don’t know who they need to see for their knee pain.

Some Facts about the Knee

Your knee is the largest joint on your body. Its role in your mobility is an important one. It consists of several parts that make it work. These include:

  • Bones – Three bones form the joint. The femur (thighbone), tibia (shin) and the patella (kneecap).
  • Articular cartilage – Cartilage helps those knee bones to slide across each other smoothly.
  • Meniscus – Another type of cartilage. However, it works to absorb shock between bones rather than let bones slide by each other like articular cartilage.
  • Ligaments – The ligaments connect the bones and hold them together. There are two types of ligaments named the collateral and cruciate ligaments.
  • Tendons – Your tendons connect your bones to your muscles.

As you can tell, if something goes wrong with any one of those components, then it’s a unique situation. You’ve probably heard of many of the most common knee problems. People suffer from fractures, tears, dislocations, sprains and various other words that don’t sound very nice. There are also people who think a certain level of joint pain is normal at a certain age. Some think that knee pain is just a consequence of some activity they participate in.

That’s why some people become a little confused about who they should see when they have knee pain. They think if it’s severe, there’s a specialist they need to see. And if the pain is mild, they think seeing someone about it is pointless. Do not do that to yourself. If you experience knee pain, start by going to see your general practitioner.

Start with a General Practitioner

Have your regular doctor look at your knee pain. It’s important to have a medical professional take that initial look. From there he or she can tell you what your next step should be. Knee pain is not homogeneous. Like many pains in the body, it can occur from any number of factors. Because of that, there isn’t just one type of specialist for your knee.

You may need a diagnosis from a specialist, and then find out that your treatment will consist of physical therapy. You can go see your general practitioner only to find out that you won’t see any relief until you go to a rheumatologist to see what’s going on. A sports doctor can bind up your knee and tell you it’ll heal on its own. You can find out that you might need some orthopedic surgery for a knee replacement.

And that’s the point of it all. It’s almost impossible to know what kind of doctor you will need. Even if you know precisely what’s causing your knee pain, you may not know what specialist to go to for a diagnosis. That’s why you should always start with your regular doctor. You may not want to do that because you think it’s faster to cut out the intermediary and go straight for the professional you need. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Many specialists require that you have a referral anyway.

No, the bottom line is, if you any kind of knee pain, tell your doctor and go from there.

Common Knee Problems

Knee problems happen frequently. Some doctors get more knee injury cases on average than any other kind of problem. So you can rest easy if you think that your general doctor won’t know a thing or two about your knee. However, quite a few knee problems occur more commonly than others.

  • Fractures – just as the name implies, a fracture is a break in one of your three knee bones.
  • Dislocation – A dislocation happens when one or more of your bones come out of place. Sometimes, this can happen because of a bone disorder.
  • Ligament injuries – An ACL tear is the ligament injury that people are most familiar with. However, all the ligaments are in danger when you do something that causes a torn ligament.
  • Tendon tears – Tendon tears can happen for the same reasons as all the other knee injuries. However, they tend to happen more often to people in their middle years who are active.
  • Meniscus tears – A quick and unexpected pivot can tear the meniscus. It can also happen to people with arthritis that may make a sudden movement.

There are many other knee injuries that can occur. What makes these common problems is that they occur regularly from activities that many people participate in. Sports are a major culprit, so if you play a lot of sports, or are physically active, then your knee pain can be because of any one of these issues. Beyond the injuries, there are also diseases that can attack components of the knee as well.

Common Knee Conditions

It’s not all about injury; you can develop a knee condition for any number of reasons.

  • Effusion – There are several reasons liquid can start filling up in your knee. It can come from inflammation or arthritis.
  • Arthritis – Several forms of arthritis can occur in the knee, including rheumatoid, gout, and osteoarthritis. There’s also septic arthritis, which is a bacterial infection.
  • Baker’s cyst – A swelling behind the knee, can occur because of other conditions.
  • Bursitis – Inflammation caused by overuse.
  • Infections – Every component of your knee is prone to some type of infection or another.

Just like the injuries, there are any number of other things that can cause problems and chronic pain for your knees. Each of these issues will require a different approach. One problem needs an injection where another may need antibiotics. They are all different.

When to See the Doctor about Your Knee Pain

You should never let knee pain go on for too long without having it checked out. All athletes should know to bring any report of knee pain to their sports medicine doctor immediately. However, not everyone is an athlete.

At the initial onset of knee pain, stop what you’re doing and take a rest. Keep your knee raised, place some ice on it, and take something for pain and swelling. If that doesn’t do much for you, try adding an elastic bandage. Just remember that this is a temporary solution. Go visit your doctor as soon as you can. Of course, in cases where you literally cannot move, or the pain is just too great, don’t waste time getting to medical help.


With so many possible problems that can occur with your knee, it’s important that you take any complaints directly to your doctor so he or she can diagnose the problem. Don’t hesitate or think that it’s less of a problem than it really is. You wouldn’t know that until you start going through the process of having your knee looked at and diagnosed. Consult with your primary care physician. The faster you figure out what is going on, the better off you will be. Some knee issues don’t make themselves known and need a professional to find them.


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