Swollen Knee

What is a Swollen Knee?

A swollen knee occurs when an excessive amount of fluid builds up in the knee joint. This condition is also known as a knee effusion and water on the knee. There are various reasons why a person can have a swollen knee and this condition often occurs due to an injury that causes knee damage.

Arthritis, bursitis or osteoarthritis are common conditions that often cause water to settle around the area of the knee. People who are overweight may develop knee problems due to the weight on their leg joints.

What are the Symptoms of a Swollen Knee?

The symptoms associated with a swollen knee are an enlargement of the kneecap and the surrounding area of the knee due to the presence of fluid. When the knee is swollen, individuals will feel stiffness in their knee joint and they often have difficulties straightening or bending their leg.

Pain is another symptom that is associated with a swollen knee and while some individuals only have mild pain, others have severe pain that prevents them from placing any weight on their leg. Individuals should make an appointment with a medical professional if they can feel warmth in their swollen knee or if it appears red.

How is a Swollen Knee Treated?

Individuals can help lessen the symptoms of their swollen knee by resting their legs as much as possible. Walking or standing for long periods at a time should be avoided and when resting in a chair or on a bed, individuals should elevate their legs.

Placing an ice pack on the swollen knee for about 15 minutes can help to reduce the puffiness. If necessary, a physician can take the fluid out of the knee by performing a procedure called an aspiration. Other medical treatments include corticosteroid injections in the knee, anti-inflammatory medications and a prescription for antibiotics if there is an infection present. As a last resort, individuals may need to have joint replacement surgery or other types of surgery on their knee.

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Last Reviewed:
October 09, 2016
Last Updated:
August 22, 2017