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Knee Pain

Knee pain is one of the most common orthopedic problems for people of all ages. Knee pain is most often caused by overuse injuries such as tendonitis, bursitis and patellofemoral pain syndrome (“runner’s knee”) that produce inflammation (pain and swelling). It can also be a symptom of structural knee problems, including the following:

Knee pain: what you should know

  • Specialists at Rush are spearheading research on biological therapies to repair knee cartilage damaged by aging, trauma or diseases such as osteoarthritis. The goal is to relieve pain and spare patients with small areas of cartilage damage from needing more complicated surgery at a relatively young age.
  • Losing weight — even 10 pounds — can significantly reduce knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.

How can I get help for knee pain?

See your doctor or a primary care sports medicine doctor if you have long-standing knee pain that is affecting your quality of life. Or if you sustain a knee injury that causes pain plus any of the following symptoms:

  • A loud “pop” at the time of the injury
  • Swelling and stiffness
  • Warmth and redness
  • Limping or instability
  • Inability to fully straighten the knee
  • “Locking” of the knee

Care for knee pain at Rush

Treatment will depend on the cause of your knee pain. People with inflammatory conditions can almost always get relief from conservative treatments, including the following:

  • Rest and ice
  • Physical therapy to stretch and strengthen your knee
  • Anti-inflammatory medications

If pain persists after 7 to 10 days of conservative therapies, your doctor may recommend further evaluation. This may include imaging tests like an X-ray or MRI.

If you have a structural issue, you may need surgery to fix the damaged area. If surgery is recommended, you will be referred to an orthopedic surgeon at Rush who specializes in knee repair.

Which type of procedure you have will depend on what is causing your knee pain. Whenever possible, orthopedic surgeons at Rush perform knee surgery using small incisions (arthroscopic surgery) to reduce the risk of infection and speed recovery. Some knee repairs require larger incisions (open surgery). Your surgeon will discuss all of the options with you.

Why choose Rush for knee pain care

  • The orthopedics program at Rush is consistently ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Orthopedic specialists at Rush are team doctors for the Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox, and many other professional and college teams and organizations. In this role, they treat knee pain in many athletes and work with athletes to prevent knee injuries.
  • The Orthopedic Building gives patients one convenient place to go for knee care. You can see an orthopedic specialist, get your imaging tests, have outpatient procedures and go through rehabilitation — all under one roof.

Departments and programs that treat this condition