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.

Swollen Knee Causes

Some of the most common causes of knee swelling include gout, rheumatoid arthritis, knee injuries, and osteoarthritis. About half of all gout cases end up affecting the knee, causing it to swell. Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, usually affects both knees. Injuring your tendons, ligaments, meniscus, bursae or articular cartilage can all cause a swollen knee. If the injury is serious enough it could cause bruising and stiffness. In this case, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Some less common things that could cause the knees to swell include septic and nonseptic bursitis, pseudogout (an accumulation of calcium pyrophosphate crystals in your joints), Baker’s Cyst, a tumor, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, Osgood-Schlatter Disease, and septic arthritis.

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.

Swollen Knee Prevention

To prevent swelling in the knee, work on strengthening the muscles around your knee. The stronger your knee becomes, the less likely you are to reinjure it. It can also help to ease some of the pressure on the knee that results from swelling. Stay active and maintain a healthy weight. Be sure to participate in activities that don’t put too much strain on your knee. For instance, you probably should avoid playing volleyball, tennis or soccer. Stick to low-impact exercises, like swimming and water aerobics.

A few other things you could do to prevent the knee from swelling include wearing a knee brace during physical activity, stretching before and after physical activity, and using the proper posture when performing activities to avoid muscle strains. When exercising, be sure to adjust the equipment to fit your strength and size to avoid and potential injuries. Try to avoid repetitive knee movements.

You can also try hamstring stretches, calf stretches, knee-to-chest exercises and straight-leg raises. Also, be sure to wear shoes with good arch support and avoid high heels at all costs. Replacing your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles is recommended.