GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. – All the activity outdoors in the summer can put some added stress on our joints, including our knees.

For those considering having knee surgery, Dr. Anthony Anderson, Sports and Orthopedic Specialist with Allina Health, stopped by KARE 11 at 4 to help weigh your options.

Q: What usually triggers knee pain?

  • Most people usually experience some form of knee pain during their lifetime.
  • For many, it’s caused by arthritis as they get older.
  • For others, sports, exercise and everyday activities can cause everything from muscle strains to tendinitis -- to more serious injuries of ligaments and cartilage. Being overweight or obese can also put added pressure on your knees and cause problems.
  • Often, people can treat the symptoms of knee pain on their own -- but sometimes, surgery is the best and only option.

Q: When should someone see a doctor for it?

  • It’s important to see your doctor if your chronic knee pain is severely limiting your daily activities.
  • You should seek help if you can’t bear weight on your knee or if you have noticeable swelling.
  • If you’ve been working out and suddenly your knee “gives out” or you can’t fully extend or flex your knee, it’s also time to visit your doctor.
  • An X-Ray, MRI, or Ultrasound might be able to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong and help determine the best course of treatment.

Q: When is it necessary to go under the knife for knee pain?

  • It really depends on how serious the pain or cause is.
  • If it’s an ACL, PCL or MCL tear, it may require surgery.
  • You’ve probably heard of a “meniscus tear” -- that’s a tear in the knee cartilage, and that typically requires surgery.
  • For those who suffer from chronic knee pain caused by certain types of arthritis, their best hope at regaining an active lifestyle may require a knee replacement surgery.
  • Whether it’s an arthroscopic, partial knee replacement or full knee replacement surgery, it’s important to talk over all of your options with your doctor and really understand the pros and cons of not only having the surgery, but also what the recovery and rehab time will mean for you too.

Q: What alternative treatments may help?

A: Physical Therapy

  • Depending on how serious your knee pain or injury is, strengthening the muscles around your knee - including your quads and hamstrings - can make it more stable.
  • You can also work with a therapist on correcting any bad movement or exercising patterns that may be causing your chronic pain, as well as doing exercises that improve your balance.

A: Injections

  • Sometimes, knee pain can be treated with different types of injections.
  • These can be medications or other substances.
  • One of the most common -- corticosteroids -- may help reduce arthritis flare-ups and provide temporary relief.

A: Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers such acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen may help alleviate some of the swelling and pain.
  • Topical creams that have a numbing agent also work.
  • But remember -- good “old fashioned” rest, ice and elevation can do wonders for minor knee injuries and pain.