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Knee Pain: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment Options

By Concierge at AffordableScan | 4 min read

Knee pain is a common issue that can affect people of all ages and activity levels. While mild knee pain may be manageable with at-home remedies and over-the-counter medication, severe or chronic knee pain may require the attention of a medical professional. But how do you know when it’s time to see a doctor for your knee pain?

When to seek doctor for knee pain?

Here are a few key signs that it’s time to seek medical help for your knee pain:

  1. You have severe pain that is not getting better with at-home treatments. If you are experiencing intense pain that is not responding to rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication, it may be time to see a doctor.
  2. You have difficulty bearing weight on your knee. If your knee pain is making it difficult for you to walk, climb stairs, or perform other basic activities, it may be a sign of a more serious underlying issue.
  3. You notice swelling or redness in your knee. In some cases, knee pain may be accompanied by swelling, redness, or warmth in the affected area. This could be a sign of an infection or other serious condition that requires medical attention.
  4. Your knee pain is chronic and has lasted for more than a few days. If you have been experiencing knee pain for an extended period of time, it may be time to see a doctor to determine the cause and find an appropriate treatment plan.
  5. You have a history of knee injuries or chronic knee problems. If you have previously had knee injuries or have a pre-existing condition that affects your knees, it’s important to see a doctor at the first sign of knee pain.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to perform a physical examination and may order imaging tests to determine the cause of your knee pain. From there, they will be able to recommend an appropriate treatment plan to help alleviate your pain and get you back to your normal activities.

How to get doctor consultation for knee ailments?

For a quick consult you can use one of the telemedicine consultation services such as but for a full diagnosis a doctor visit would be preferred.

It’s important to remember that knee pain is not something that you should ignore or try to tough out on your own. By seeking medical help when needed, you can ensure that your knee pain is properly treated and prevent further damage to your knee. So if you are experiencing knee pain, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor and get the help you need.

Common causes of knee pain

Knee pain is a common complaint that can affect people of all ages. It can be caused by a wide range of factors, including injuries, overuse, and underlying medical conditions. In some cases, knee pain can be managed with at-home remedies, such as rest and ice, but in more severe cases, medical treatment may be necessary.

  • One of the most common causes of knee pain is a knee injury. This can occur as a result of a sudden impact, such as a fall or a blow to the knee, or it can result from overuse, such as in athletes who engage in high-impact sports. Knee injuries can range from mild to severe, and can include sprains, strains, and tears in the ligaments, tendons, or cartilage.
  • Another common cause of knee pain is osteoarthritis. This is a degenerative joint disease that can affect the knee joint, as well as other joints in the body. Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the knee joint, which can lead to pain, stiffness, and swelling. It is more common in older adults, but can also affect younger people who have experienced knee injuries or have a family history of the condition.
  • In addition to injuries and osteoarthritis, there are other medical conditions that can cause knee pain. These can include gout, which is a form of arthritis that is caused by the buildup of uric acid in the joints, and rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the joints. Other potential causes of knee pain include bursitis, which is an inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the knee joint, and tendonitis, which is an inflammation of the tendons that attach the muscles to the knee.

Treatment for knee pain

Treatment for knee pain will depend on the underlying cause. For mild cases of knee pain, at-home remedies may be sufficient. These can include rest, ice, compression, and elevation (known as the RICE method), as well as over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Stretching and strengthening exercises can also be helpful in managing knee pain and promoting healing.

If knee pain is more severe or does not improve with at-home remedies, medical treatment may be necessary. This can include physical therapy, which can help to reduce pain and improve knee function, as well as medications, such as corticosteroids, which can help to reduce inflammation. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace damaged knee structures.

It is important to consult with a doctor if knee pain is persistent or severe, or if it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as redness, warmth, or swelling. A doctor can evaluate the knee and determine the underlying cause of the pain, and recommend the most appropriate treatment.

Preventing knee pain

Preventing knee pain can be challenging, as it can be caused by a wide range of factors. However, there are steps that people can take to reduce their risk of knee injuries and other conditions that can cause knee pain. These can include:

General tips

  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can put extra strain on the knee joints, which can lead to pain and other problems. Losing weight, if necessary, can help to reduce the risk of knee pain.
  • Wearing proper footwear: Wearing shoes that fit well and provide adequate support can help to reduce the risk of knee injuries and other problems. Avoid wearing high heels, as they can put extra strain on the knees.
  • Exercising regularly: Regular exercise can help to keep the knee joints strong and flexible. Low

Impact activities, such as swimming or biking, can be particularly beneficial for the knees. It is also important to avoid overdoing it, as excessive or high-impact exercise can put strain on the knee joints and lead to injuries.

Spot/activity tips for preventing knee pain

  • Stretching before physical activity: Stretching can help to warm up the muscles and improve flexibility, which can reduce the risk of knee injuries. It is important to focus on stretching the muscles that support the knee, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
  • Using proper technique: When engaging in physical activity, it is important to use proper technique to avoid putting unnecessary strain on the knee joints. This can include using the right posture and form when lifting weights, as well as avoiding sudden changes in direction when playing sports.
  • Protecting the knees: Knee injuries can be caused by falls or blows to the knee. To reduce the risk of these types of injuries, it is important to use knee pads or other protective gear when engaging in activities that pose a risk of injury to the knees.

In conclusion, knee pain is a common complaint that can be caused by a wide range of factors, including injuries, overuse, and underlying medical conditions. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause, and can range from at-home remedies to medications and surgery. By taking steps to prevent knee injuries and other conditions that can cause knee pain, people can help to reduce their risk of experiencing this common problem.

How is knee pain diagnosed?

Diagnosing knee pain typically involves a combination of a physical examination, medical history, and imaging tests. The first step is for a healthcare provider to conduct a physical examination of the knee, including checking for swelling, tenderness, and range of motion. The provider will also ask about any previous injuries or medical conditions that could be contributing to the knee pain.

Imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRI scans, may also be used to diagnose knee pain. X-rays can help detect bone fractures or other structural abnormalities, while MRI scans provide detailed images of the soft tissues in the knee, such as the ligaments and tendons.

In some cases, additional tests may be needed to diagnose knee pain. For instance, an arthroscopy, which involves inserting a small camera into the knee joint, may be performed to visualize the inside of the knee and diagnose problems such as torn cartilage or damaged ligaments.

Once the underlying cause of knee pain has been determined, a treatment plan can be developed. Treatment options may include medications to manage pain and swelling, physical therapy to improve strength and flexibility, and in some cases, surgery to repair damaged structures in the knee.

Overall, diagnosing knee pain involves a combination of a physical examination, medical history, and imaging tests. Proper diagnosis is important in order to develop an effective treatment plan and alleviate knee pain.

What if my insurance denies MRI scan for knee pain diagnosis?

If your insurance company denies coverage for an MRI for knee pain, it can be frustrating and overwhelming. However, it is important to understand your options and know what steps to take next.

First, it is important to understand why your insurance company denied coverage for the MRI. Insurance companies often deny coverage for certain tests or treatments if they do not believe they are medically necessary. In the case of an MRI for knee pain, this could be because the insurance company does not believe the test is necessary to diagnose or treat the condition.

If your insurance company denies coverage for an MRI, you have a few options. One option is to appeal the decision. This involves requesting a review of the decision by the insurance company and providing additional information or evidence to support the need for the MRI.

Another option is to seek out a second opinion from another healthcare provider. This provider may be able to provide additional information or a different perspective that could convince the insurance company to cover the MRI.

If your insurance company still denies coverage for the MRI, you may need to pay for the test out of pocket. The cost of an MRI can vary, but it is typically several hundred dollars.

Not sure where to start?

Our concierge will help you find the most affordable imaging center

Getting your Knee MRI scan done via self-pay option is often quickest and least expensive

The great news is that with a standalone clinic you can always negotiate a better rate if you pay in cash. The imaging center saves on billing costs and removes the hassle of dealing with insurance companies, so they can provide you with large discounts. You can pay as little as $250 for an MRI scan without contrast. Which means you will save up 80% vs. the list price that you will be quoted by your insurance company.

Outpatient facilities have more affordable MRI costs than hospitals

Hospitals directly refer their patients to their imaging facilities, so they are not directly motivated to provide affordable service. Especially research hospitals such as UCSF or Stanford are among the most expensive in the country. For instance, 2 years ago Stanford charged a patient $23,749 for a single MRI.

MRI cost by state

Find out the average MRI cost by your state for insured and uninsured patients.

AlabamaLouisianaNew York
ConnecticutMinnesotaSouth Carolina
HawaiiNorth CarolinaVirginia
IowaNorth DakotaWashington
IllinoisNew HampshireWyoming
IndianaNew Jersey
KansasNew Mexico

MRI costs for knees & other common procedures

Find out the average prices for most frequent imaging procedures:

CPT CodeMRI procedure TypeLowest cash priceHigh deductible co-pay price
73722MRI scan of leg joint without contrast$225$1,328
73722MRI scan of leg joint with contrast$350$2,230
70553MRI scan of leg joint before and after contrast$400$2,700
72148MRI Lumbar Spine without Contrast$225$1,328
72149MRI Lumbar Spine with Contrast$350$1,692
72158MRI Lumbar Spine w/o & w/ Contrast$400$2,065
72141MRI Spine Cervical without Contrast$400$1,328
72142MRI Spine Cervical with Contrast$225$3,919
72156MRI Spine Cervical w/o & w Contrast$350$2,065
74181MRI Abd without Contrast$225$1,328
74182MRI Abd with Contrast$350$1,692
74183MRI Abd w/o & w/ Contrast$400$2,065

Tips for getting an affordable MRI knee scan

  • Shop around for the best price for both MRI & CT scans
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for discounts for MRI & CT procedures and negotiate to get the best rate possible.
  • Ask about all the fees for your body part MRI. Do they include the cost of MRI, cost of the radiologist reading?
  • Take your doctor’s referral with you to another facility. Your referral might be issued to one of the most expensive hospitals in the country.
  • See if you qualify for a better insurance plan that will cover your imaging services needs.
  • If you have a musculoskeletal issue don’t need to use the 3T MRI machine, which is considered the Ferrari of the imaging world, a simple 1.5T machine that cost fraction of it will suffice.

Not sure where to start?

Our concierge will help you find the most affordable imaging center.
Concierge at AffordableScan | 4 min read

The concierge team at AffordableScan works with top experts & doctors in the industry to publish the latest research & news on medical care in the US.