A visit to a doctor is necessary when swelling of the knee is significant and accompanied by a high level of discomfort, or when there is redness, fever, warmth or tenderness near the joint, notes Mayo Clinic. If increased pain hinders normal activity or sleep, medical attention is needed.
It is time to visit an urgent care facility or emergency room if pain in the knee came from an injury and the joint looks deformed, or if the patient heard a popping sound at the time of the injury, states Mayo Clinic. Other indications that medical care is appropriate include swelling that happens quickly or pain that is intense, or if the person is unable to use the joint.
Knee pain that builds slowly or happens after unusually strenuous exercise or activity can typically be treated at home, according to Mayo Clinic. Icing the knee for up to 20 minutes at a time, several times a day, with a bag of frozen vegetables or ice cubes in a towel eases pain and inflammation. Wrapping the knee with an elastic bandage provides compression and eases swelling. Improvement often comes from elevating the knee when resting and by avoiding strenuous activities. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium can help with inflammation and pain.