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Swollen Knee – Causes, Treatment, Pain relief, Pictures

Written by Dr.Mary

A knee that is swollen is a problem that is common. Many individuals call this “water on the knee”. But, defining the reason of knee swelling can be a rather large challenge. Swelling can be chronic or acute. It can be linked to a recent injury or can have an onset that is gradual. This swelling may be within the knee or in the tissue surrounding the knee. Deciding on the treatment of swollen knee will depend on the cause of the problem.


Swollen Knee Causes

Individuals with a knee that is swollen can either have fluid in the joint of the knee itself, or in the soft tissue surrounding the knee. To determine the reason for fluid increase is first to define where the fluid is located.

The joint of the knee is enclosed by a capsule which forms what is known as the “joint space”. This space usually has a small amount of fluid for lubricating in the knee to aid in keeping the knee easily moving.

Fluid in the knee joint

If there is fluid in the knee joint, there is possibly an accompanying injury.

Acute injuries

This is a recent traumatic event and is different from a chronic problem due to the swelling of the knee suddenly developing because of the injury. With an acute injury it needs to be determined the type of fluid in the knee as some injuries cause bleeding in the knee.

Blood in the knee

2 common conditions that cause blood accumulation in the knee are a tear of the ACL or a fracture of the bone or cartilage of the knee. These 2 injuries lets blood go into the joint and will cause a very large and swollen knee. Once bleeding is the reason for the swelling the start is normally rapid with intense swelling.

Non-bloody fluid in the knee

Injuries which create the buildup of fluid that is non-bloody include meniscus tears as well as sprains of the ligament. The swelling is acute in the beginning but less rapid than buildup of blood.

Chronic problems

These are injuries that cause gradual start of knee swelling. Symptoms can come and go. This is the more common kind of swelling and is usually the result of wear and tear or knee arthritis.

Knee arthritis

This causes the body to create additional fluid in the knee joint but the quantity of fluid has a tendency to to fluctuate over time.

Rapid onset of swelling, no injury

This swelling is rapid start of fluid within the joint but no current injury. The more common causes are due to gout of infection.

Gout and Pseudogout

This is the buildup of uric acid crystals within the fluid of the knee. Individuals with gout amass uric acid crystals leading to swelling and inflammation. Pseudogout is a comparable problem but with a different type of crystals amassing within the joint. This is normally calcium crystals that cause an inflammatory response within the joint.

Infection

Infections can be triggered by contagion in the knee, such as after a wound or surgery to the knee or an infection that is system wide and has spread to the joints.

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Fluid outside the knee joint

When the fluid is in the soft tissues adjacent to the knee, the more common reason is prepatellar bursitis. This causes fluid buildup in the bursa right on the top of the kneecap. Fluid may also amass in the soft tissue after an injury such as a contusion or bruise to the knee.

Treatment

Treatment for a swollen knee will involve the underlying cause of the swelling. Options for treatment consist of:

Braces and support

This can aid in compensating for injured joint and help support weak muscles. There are many types so it is important to know the treatment that is appropriate so as to best help the condition.

Casts

These are used for the treatment of fractures as well as post-surgical restrictions.

Rehabilitation and therapy

This can be used in situations where it is the primary option for treatment and in others as an assistant to other treatment such as surgery.

Medications

Common drugs to treat any orthopedic conditions include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Motrin, Naprosyn, Aleve, Celebrex, as well as Glucosamine and others.

Injections

Injections are frequent options to administer drugs for orthopedic conditions. The most common injection is cortisone

Surgery

This is used for treatment of numerous problems orthopedically. Often surgery is the primary treatment but more often surgery is used after other treatments have failed.

Arthroscopic surgery

This is surgery using small incisions with a camera inserted into a joint to perform surgical repairs and procedures. This is usually the standard treatment for most common joint problems.

Pain relief

Home treatment can aid in pain relief, stiffness and swelling. This includes:

  • Protect and rest the injured area that is sore or swollen.
  • Ice reduces swelling and pain.
  • After 2 to 3 days, if swelling is down, use heat and initiate gentle exercise with the aid of heat that is moist.
  • Compression, or wrapping the injured or swollen area with an elastic bandage.
  • Raise the injured or swollen knee on pillows while using ice as well as anytime you are sitting or lying down.
  • Lessen stress on the knee

Swollen Knee Pictures

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