Knee Pain? 12 Signs You Need to See a Doctor Immediately

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in June of 2021. For the original video go to

Bob: Today we're going to talk about knee pain. 12 signs that you should see a doctor immediately.

Brad: How about a dozen?

Bob: Sure.

Brad: There you go.

Bob: Cheaper by the dozen. So if your knee pain was caused by an injury, so sports, a fall, work, and so on, you should seek out medical advice or attention, if any of the following conditions exist.

Brad: Right, let's do it.

Bob: Number one must be the most obvious, if you have a deformity, like you have a bone sticking out.

Brad: An obvious deformity, yeah.

Bob: Right, if you compare the one knee to the other knee, and there's something just not right, visually. You may have broken something or dislocated something.

Brad: And you have to look around the knee, around the joint, like just below the kneecap. You might see a little, if the meniscus is actually torn, popped up, but there's probably going to be some pain associated.

Bob: Well, the kneecap could be over.

Brad: It usually doesn't happen without notable pain.

Bob: Number two, if you have significant bruising or swelling. Bruising generally means you've had some artery damage. You know, it's strain on the arteries. The more bruising, the more swelling, the more likely you've experienced a serious injury.

Brad: Sure.

Bob: So get it checked out.

Brad: And typically with that, the range of motion is going to be painful too. But not always.

Bob: Number three, let's say you have difficulty walking after an injury. So it's causing you to limp. The intense pain can could indicate a bone fracture or a torn muscle or ligament.

Brad: Right. So, in other words sitting, it's not too bad, and maybe you can range it out but as soon as you put some weight on it, it makes you jump.

Bob: Yeah, and number four fits right along with that. Let’s say we're walking and your knee won't hold the weight. Like you actually, step and it gives way.

Brad: Yeah. Obvious.

Bob: That's an obvious sign that you should go see the doctor.

Brad: Yeah. You don't probably don't want to wait and see if it gets better for a couple of days.

Bob: Let's say it's not that severe, but it feels unstable or instable, you know, that can often be ligament damage too or even the cartilage damage. You know, it's just not holding it in place like it should.

Brad: Yeah, you can walk, but it just feels like it's going to give out at any time. It's that really queasy feeling.

Bob: And this is interesting how often this happens, the next one, you actually hear a popping noise and you hear a lot of people that say that well, like they especially have, they tore their ACL or something.

Brad: Oh, you mean when, at the time it happens.

Bob: Yeah, at the time it happens. I remember even sometimes people would say they heard it in the crowd. That they heard a popping noise.

Brad: Yeah. I've always wondered. Because I always think that sometimes the person who's having the knee thing they hear a pop, but nobody else can be because, you know, you can feel it.

Bob: It's a vibrational thing.

Brad: Yeah. You don’t even associate that, but when they say they hear it from the audience. Then you know it's the real thing.

Bob: If you have reduced range of motion. So if your knee is not straightening all the way or not bending all the way, again, there's a lot of things going on there that could cause that. One is a torn meniscus.

Brad: Sure.

Bob: Or torn cartilage.

Brad: So bending just means all the way like this, you know and all the way straight.

Bob: It might be swelling. Just plain, old, swollen.

Brad: Right. Yeah.

Bob: That's stopping it, but, if there's that much swelling, you probably should have checked out.

Brad: Sure.

Bob: So if there's less sensation in the knees, so you can't feel part of the knee or around the knee anywhere, then it could be even sciatica or some non-knee condition. But you want to get checked out.

Brad: So you touch it and it just feels numb. There's a numb area in the knee.

Bob: Now, if, if you didn’t have an injury, like a sports injury or fall, but you've had long-term pain or discomfort in your knee you know, and it's chronic, it's ongoing, you may want to check out a doctor and just see where you're at.

Brad: Right. So you injure it. Yeah, you can walk on it. It's not too bad, not much swelling, but it doesn't feel a hundred percent, but it goes on for a week or two weeks. I would think after two weeks you should have it checked out.

Bob: Yeah. Especially if it's new.

Brad: Right, it's not improving. It's just kind of hanging out there.

Bob: But if it's a gradual onset. You know, you might, you might go several months before you go to check it out.

Brad: Yeah. Some people are that way.

Bob: Yeah, like some people, (laughs) you and I are both that way.

Brad: Well, well that's a different story.

Bob: Well we diagnose ourselves is all. If the knee pain is affecting your daily activities, so you're having trouble doing the things that you've wanted to do in the past, obviously have it checked out. If it's affecting your sleep that’s usually a sign that it's pretty serious. I mean, not serious, but you need to get it checked out.

Brad: Yeah. If it feels comfortable throughout the day and then, or not too bad throughout the day, but then at night is it really gets sore and it hurts in bed, get it. Get it checked out and make sure that you don't have something unusual going on.

Bob: Yeah. Sometimes what that means is it could be as simple as that you overworked it during the day and that the swelling goes into the knee at night.

Brad: Yeah.

Bob: But again, pain at night is always kind of a red flag. You always want to pay attention to it. So number 11, redness or swelling around the joint. This is something obviously not to mess around with it. If you think you might have an infection, and you're tender to touch.

Brad: It's warm.

Bob: It's warm, very good, yes. You experience a high fever along with it.

Brad: Yeah, you have to get that taken care of.

Bob: Fast! That's not one you don’t mess around with, that's when you go in and have it checked out. And the final one if you have really high intensity knee pain. I'm sure that's going to cause you to want to go in any way. But don't tough it out. There's something wrong if it's really hurting quite seriously.

Brad: You know, the other thing I don't think we mentioned with that redness or swelling, particularly if you had a knee replacement.

Bob: Right.

Brad: Definitely, because infections migrate to that artificial components in there. And that's really important.

Bob: We've seen this quite often in our patients. And unfortunately I've seen it in my family. My mother-in-law, she had an infected knee.

Bob: Oh yeah. She had a replacement?

Brad: Yeah. She had a replacement. They had to take it out.

Brad: Yeah. I've seen that too, over the years.

Bob: It's more and more common unfortunately.

Brad: I wonder why. There's more knee replacments?

Bob: Well the bugs are getting stronger.

Brad: Oh, sure.

Bob: We're not able to fight them as much. Well, that's it folks. This video, by the way, is part of a series of videos on knee pain. If you want to check out the whole series, go to You'll find our videos on knee pain. Now, if this is early on, they all might not be there yet. We're uploading.

Brad: Yeah, because there's going to be, I don't know, 20 of these or more.

Bob: 20, 30, 40, 50, probably.

Brad: Depends on how ambitious Bob gets.

Bob: Yeah, yeah, yeah exactly.

Brad: But anyways, yeah, it'll say they're not ready yet. You'll just have to come back. And this is not a two or three-day process.

Bob: Yeah, this takes a long time.

Brad: Yeah, it takes a number of weeks.

Bob: What else comes up with the video, Brad?

Brad: Well, Bob, this is a great thing. You have a printout, PDF printout. Click the button print it out on your printer. You'll be able to read it and know exactly what the video says. You don't have to go over and look at it over and over and over and see our faces more than once. So it's a benefit.

Bob: Again, no charge.