Knee pain treatment

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Knee pain, stiffness and swelling that causes you to limp or hampers your ability to move should not be ignored as it could signal a more serious knee injury that requires medical attention. Duke knee specialists are experts in diagnosing the cause of your knee injury and relieving your knee pain. We use proven treatment advances to relieve your knee pain, repair any damage that may have occurred, and return you to your normal activities as soon as possible.

Why does your knee hurt?

The cause of knee pain falls into three main categories:

  • Sudden knee injuries like a broken bone, sprained or torn ligaments (such as an ACL), meniscal tear or knee dislocation.
  • Chronic medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or infection. Knee arthritis is also common in aging adults and results from wear and tear of the knee joint.
  • Overuse injuries from activities like running such as patellar tendonitis (injury to the tendon connecting your kneecap to your shinbone; common among runners and cyclists), IT band pain (an inflamed tendon that runs down the outside of the thigh; also common among runners) and knee bursitis (inflammation of a fluid-filled sac called the bursa near your knee joint).

After a thorough examination of how your knee moves, Duke knee specialists may analyze one or more of these tests to pinpoint the cause of your knee pain.

  • X-rays identify breaks
  • Blood tests identify infection
  • Arthrocentesis is used to analyze the fluid in your knee joint
  • MRI images the soft tissues and surrounding areas of your knee

The testing guides Duke knee experts’ treatment recommendations. Non-surgical treatments such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication, bracing, injections, and physical therapy may be all you need to achieve pain relief. If your knee pain or knee injury is more severe, knee surgery may be recommended.

If you need immediate care for your knee injury:

  • You can make an appointment within 24 hours. Depending on availability, you may be seen by a knee specialist the same day you call for an appointment.
  • You can get immediate care at Duke Orthopaedic Urgent Care. We provide orthopaedic-specific care at two convenient locations seven days a week. You will experience the convenience of fast service with no long waits and no unnecessary exposure to sick people.

Should you see a knee specialist for your knee pain?

If your knee pain is sudden, painful and prevents you from walking it requires medical attention.  You should also seek medical care if your knee begins to show signs of redness, heat or swelling as it could be a sign of infection.  Knee pain that lingers for several weeks should also be assessed by a knee specialist who can recommend the best course of treatment.

Duke knee specialists include primary care sports medicine specialists, physician assistants, knee surgeons, and physical therapists who specialize in rehabilitation following knee injuries. Our orthopaedic program is ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report.

Choose an experienced knee surgeon for knee surgery

  • Our orthopaedic program is ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report. Our fellowship trained orthopaedic surgeons perform more than 1,300 knee arthroscopies for painful knee injuries and conditions each year, in addition to fixing knee surgeries done elsewhere that require revisions. Our knee specialists are committed to giving you the highest quality care with the best outcomes and the lowest risk of complications.
  • Our knee replacement specialists are experienced in the most advanced knee replacement surgeries. Our surgical success is based on decades of ongoing research at Duke. We use sophisticated tools to study patient outcomes and measure surgical success and fine-tune our techniques to ensure you have the most options and experience the best outcomes. 
  • Most of our knee surgeries are performed using regional nerve blocks. This means you don't need to be intubated to receive general anesthesia. This major advance is safer, speeds your recovery and ensures you experience less pain.

Non-surgical treatments

To restore function and eliminate pain, our knee specialists provide the full complement of non invasive treatments for knee pain.

Knee surgeries

If your knee pain persists, surgery may be the best option.

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