Both orthopedists and rheumatologists are trained to treat knee pain, states the Arthritis Foundation. To treat knee pain, a patient should first see his primary care physician. From there, the doctor examines the knee and orders any additional tests such as an X-ray, CT scan, bone scan or an MRI.
If further testing or treatment is needed, a primary care physician refers patients to a specialist such as an orthopedic surgeon or rheumatologist. An orthopedic surgeon specializes in musculoskeletal issues, including arthritis and injuries, explains the Arthritis Foundation. If something is wrong with the joints in the knee, an orthopedist can recommend surgery or additional noninvasive treatment.
A rheumatologist has advanced training in arthritis and related musculoskeletal conditions, reports the Arthritis Foundation. If a primary doctor believes the knee condition is related to arthritis, he may refer the patient to a rheumatologist.