Think your knee injury is no big deal? Not so fast, says DR TAN SOK CHUEN, director of the Hip & Knee Orthopaedics clinic in Novena. From knee swelling to persistent kneecap pain, she shares five signs your knee injury deserves a look from a doctor.
How do I know if my knee injury is serious?
A little knee pain here and there might not mean more than a sore knee. With a few days of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) treatment, a minor knee injury can heal on its own. More serious knee injuries, however, may require further treatment – including physiotherapy, medication or surgery – and certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. So, seeing a doctor is a wise decision, particularly if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:
#1 Persistent knee pain
If the pain lasts more than two weeks despite rest and icing, it’s a good idea to get your knee checked by a specialist so that you get an accurate diagnosis – and the right treatment. If done early on, treatments like PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections can help expedite recovery, and reduce downtime.
Don’t try to “power through” the pain, as it can potentially worsen the condition!
#2 Knee swelling that lasts beyond a few days
If the skin around your kneecap appears puffy and feels tight, you might be experiencing some knee swelling – and this usually points to a more serious cause.
Swelling of the knee usually occurs from excess fluid that accumulates in the joint as a result of an injury or irritation from overuse. If the swelling doesn’t improve after a few days of RICE treatment, a visit to the doctor is advised.
#3 Locking of the joint
If your knee is “locked” in certain positions – or if you can’t fully straighten or bend it – you could have a torn meniscus (the tissue that cushions and stabilises the knee) that may require surgery. Sometimes, a fragment of cartilage can even break away and get stuck in the knee joint, causing the joint to lock and limiting range of motion. This is a serious condition that needs to be addressed immediately in order to avoid further wear and tear of the cartilage.
#4 Trouble putting weight on your knee
If it’s hard to put your full weight on to the knee after injury, despite icing and rest, a serious injury like a fracture could be at play. Chances are that if you can’t put weight on it, the knee might be swollen, too. So, see a doctor if you’re experiencing debilitating kneecap pain when walking or simply putting your weight on your knee.
#5 The feeling that your knee is giving way
If your knee feels unstable during physical activities, you could be suffering from a ligament tear. A serious tear that’s left untreated could lead to osteoarthritis or other complications that could affect your mobility.