What doctor to see for knee pain in 2023

Home » What doctor to see for knee pain in 2023

If you are experiencing knee pain, it is important to see the right doctor as soon as possible. The knee is a large synovial joint, prone to issues like sprains, and arthritis, that could develop over time. So don’t delay in having a consultation.

But who should you see?

The four best doctors to see for knee pain are:

  1. Physical therapist
  2. Chiropractor
  3. Sports medicine doctor
  4. Orthopedic doctor
a physical therapy doctor

Physical therapy for Knee pain

PTs use manual therapy, exercises, and other modalities like dry needling to improve dysfunction and pain from your knee injury. It can be used to treat conditions such as wear-and-tear, and sports injuries.

How does it work?

Physiotherapy techniques include:

  • Home exercises: Strengthening and stretching exercises can help to improve knee joint range of motion, muscle strength, and endurance.
  • Joint mobilization: This technique involves using gentle movements to nourish and increase movement at the joint cartilage.
  • Massage: Massaging the muscles around the knee can help to reduce pain and inflammation.

Pain in the back of the knee? Start here to learn about the causes first.

Does knee physical therapy hurt?

There is a common misconception that physical therapy will aggravate your pain. However, physical therapists are trained to work at the level you can tolerate to fix your problem. There may be some discomfort as you start to move and stretch injured joints and tissues. However, this is usually short-lived as your pain will improve with the correct treatment plan.

How long does knee physical therapy take?

Knee physical therapy typically takes 4 to 6 weeks in the case of a typical sports injury such as an MCL sprain. During your examination, the physio will assess swelling, range of motion, flexibility, and strength.

A treatment plan will be explained, and often, imaging studies like CT scans are required.

Some may need to continue therapy for a longer period, like after an ACL or meniscus surgery. This takes several months of guided therapy but will increasingly rely on you doing home exercises.

What is the best doctor for Runner’s knee and Jumper’s knee?

A Physical therapist should be your first port of call if you think you have Runner’s knee or Jumper’s knee. These are common conditions that most PTs should have experience correcting. They are trained to find the cause of your knee pain or refer you if it looks like a serious problem.

Severe Runner’s knee will require consultation with a sports medicine specialist.

If you are having knee pain when running or Hiking, read about Hiker’s Knee.

Chiropractic for knee pain

Chiropractors focus on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal problems, with an emphasis on the spine and nervous system. You might be wondering, why see a Chiro for knee pain?

How does chiropractic help with knee pain?

If your knee pain has come on slowly and you’re not sure why, it could be a symptom of underlying mechanical issues in your body. For example, a tight hip or spine facet joint can be causing a twist at your knee.

cartoon chiropractor checking knee
A chiro can assess your knee pain and posture

Chiropractors use a variety of techniques to help reduce knee pain. These may include:

  • Spinal manipulation: This technique involves using gentle movements to realign the spine. This improves the nerve communication between your spine and body!
  • posture correction
  • removing misalignment in the pelvis and hips
  • Knee manipulative therapy (MT)

How does chiropractic help knee arthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that results from the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. This can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. Chiropractic treatment helps knee arthritis by restoring joint motion and reducing inflammation.

When you can move your knee with less difficulty, your prescribed exercises are more effective long-term!

A recent systematic review of manipulative therapy (MT) for knee arthritis reported:

MT techniques can contribute positively to the treatment of patients with knee OA by reducing pain and increasing functionality.

[Tsokanos, Alexios et al. “The Efficacy of Manual Therapy in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review.” Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania) vol. 57,7 696. 7 Jul. 2021]

Additionally, chiropractic works to restore overall posture and body movement. Remember, everything is connected. That’s why chiropractors can help with many conditions, such as hip bursitis.

Sport medicine Doctors

Sports medicine doctors are medical professionals who focus on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of injuries that occur during physical activity.

They are often involved in the care of athletes but can really treat anyone with a more involved injury or non-resolving issue.

cartoon sports medicine assessment
sports medicine doctors are medically trained

How does sports medicine help with knee pain?

Sports medicine doctors address knee pain with treatments like:

  • Orthotics: Customized shoe inserts can help to support the foot and reduce stress on the knee joint.
  • Manual therapy to the knee tissues and joint

Sport medicine doctors may also recommend acupuncture or electrical stimulation, or knee cortisone injection to help reduce knee pain.

Should I get a knee cortisone injection?

Cortisone injections are used to treat inflammation of tendons, bursae, ligaments, and joints. They are a common go-to after sports injuries that won’t heal.

You should get a cortisone injection if recommended by your healthcare provider because it will be easier to treat your problem without the inflammation hindering your progress.

The injection itself is relatively quick and easy. A needle is inserted near the injured tissue and a corticosteroid medication is released. Usually, the treatment lasts around 1 month, then wears off.

Cortisone injections are very safe, but there are some risks involved. These may include:

  • Pain at the injection site
  • Tendon weakening (multiple injections tend to weaken tissues in our body)
  • Infection (<1% of cases)
  • Tendon injury
  • Nerve damage

Orthopedic Specialists

Orthopedic doctors are medical professionals who should be consulted when your knee pain is severe, or of a chronic nature and significantly affecting your lifestyle. You will generally need a referral from a general practitioner first.

How do orthopedic surgeons help with knee pain?

Orthopedic surgeons perform techniques including:

  • Arthroscopy: This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that can be used to diagnose and treat knee problems.
  • Joint replacement: involves replacing a damaged joint with an artificial joint.
  • Knee meniscus repair
  • Anterior Cruciate ligament repair: This may be necessary if you have completely torn your ACL.
  • Stem cell and PRP therapy

Should I get PRP therapy for my knee?

PRP therapy is a promising new treatment that uses the body’s natural healing process to promote tissue regeneration. PRP (platelet-rich plasma) is injected into the injured area to stimulate the growth of new cells and help repair damaged tissue.

There are several factors to consider when deciding whether or not PRP therapy is right for you. Your primary care doctor will be able to advise you on whether or not PRP therapy could be effective in treating your particular condition.

In general, however, PRP therapy is considered safe [2] and may be an option for people who have tried other treatments without success.

There you have it! These are the best doctors for knee pain. If you are experiencing knee pain, be sure to consult with one of these specialists to get the best treatment for your individual needs.

Do you suffer from knee pain? Have you seen a doctor or specialist for this issue? What treatments have you found to be helpful?

Share your experiences and questions in the comments section below.

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Author Bio

Dr Jason Whealing headshot

Dr. Jason Whealing is a Chiropractor with extensive experience across the UK and Australia. He is passionate about family care and injury management. The cases Jason works with daily include back pain, neck pain, jaw pain, sciatica, knee pain, shoulder pain, headaches and migraine.

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  1. Tsokanos, Alexios et al. “The Efficacy of Manual Therapy in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review.” Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania) vol. 57,7 696. 7 Jul. 2021
  2. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/plateletrich-plasma-prp-treatment

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