Muscles Weak And Strong
Maintaining flexible muscles around your knee that are strong enough to support your body may help to alleviate or prevent tightness in the knee area. Strong legs, hips, and buttocks are thought to reduce knee tightness.
Research surrounding the benefits of strong leg muscles in relation to knee tightness varies. According to a 2010 study that looked at over 2,000 knees of men and women who had or were at risk for osteoarthritis, neither hamstring nor quadriceps strength predicted frequent knee symptoms such as pain, aching, and stiffness.
Still, having strong quadriceps may help to reduce the risk of knee problems, since stronger muscles can help to support the knee joint.
A 2014 study that was conducted over five years with 2,404 participants who also had or were at risk for osteoarthritis, found that weak quadriceps were associated with an increased risk of worsening knee pain in women but not in men. Researchers acknowledged that their longer study built on similar studies of shorter duration , and smaller group sizes, to support the link between leg muscle strength and knee pain. Their study suggests there may also be sex-specific differences in risk factors for worsening knee pain.
Types Of Knee Swelling
Knee swelling usually develops in one of four ways:
Let’s have a look at the features of each and then we’ll look at the common causes.
1. Rapid Knee Swelling After An Injury
A swollen knee that develops immediately after an injury, withinminutes, is usually due to haemarthrosis, where blood accumulates in thejoint. Essentially what happens is that a structure inside the kneegets damaged and starts to bleed. The blood pools inside the capsule building up pressure in the joint.
Knee swelling after an injury is normally profuse and the knee typically balloons very quickly. Itwill feel tense and very sore and is often accompanied by bruising,although that may take longer to develop. A sudden, swollen knee caused by a haemarthrosis needs urgent medical attention.
2. Delayed Knee Swelling After An Injury
If a swollen knee develops anything from a few hours to a few daysafter an injury, it is most likely due to an increase in the synovialfluid in the joint a knee effusion.
3. Gradual Knee Swelling Without An Injury
4. Rapid Knee Swelling Without An Injury
Causes Of Swollen Knee
If your pain and swelling have come on suddenly, it may be due to an injury from playing sport or after an accident or fall. Common injuries include:
- Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs eg ibuprofen to relieve your pain
Chronic swelling, often with night-time pain, could be due to an underlying disease. These conditions, such as arthritis, are more likely as you age.
If you have arthritis, you will have chronic inflammation but you may also have symptoms of acute inflammation. There are different types of arthritis, which can all cause a swollen knee. These include:
- Gout caused by too much uric acid in your blood
- Infectious arthritis caused by an infection of a joint that leads to swelling
- Juvenile arthritis occurs in people aged up to 16 years
- Osteoarthritis the most common form of arthritis caused by break-down of cartilage in the joints
- Reactive arthritis usually occurs after an infection of your genitals or urinary tract and becomes chronic this is not common
- Rheumatoid arthritis your immune system mistakenly attacks your joints
If your doctor thinks your swollen knee could be caused by arthritis, they will ask you about any other symptoms and your medical history. They may refer you for further investigations, such as blood tests or an X-ray.
Treatments for arthritis vary depending on the type you have. They include:
- Lifestyle changes eg exercise
- Self-help devices eg easy-grip utensils, jar openers and reachers
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Treating With Ice Or Heat
Heat or ice can be beneficial in the management of musculoskeletal pain.
Ice is most beneficial if your knee problem is related to an injury. You can try heat to help your pain levels if there’s no swelling and your symptoms are not related to a recent injury.
Never place ice or heat directly on your skin. Use a barrier, like a towel, to protect your skin from a burn.
How long you use ice as a treatment can vary. However, you should generally apply heat or ice for up to 15 minutes. You should also leave a few hours between treatments.
You should stop treating the area with ice or heat and seek advice from a medical professional if you notice an increase in redness, discolouration or blistering of the skin.
If you have any issues with circulation or sensation, you shouldn’t use ice or heat as a treatment for knee pain.
Or Something Known As Pseudogout
Also known as “false gout” or calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate deposition disease , psuedogout can also cause swelling of the knee joint. Like gout, pseudogout is also considered a form of arthritis. Unlike gout, it primarily affects the wrists and knees. In pseudogout, a form of calcium crystals accumulate in joint cartilage and fluid, causing the same sudden joint pain and swelling as gout.
Pseudogout typically affects people over the age of 60, according to The Cleveland Clinic. People who have osteoarthritis, thyroid or metabolic issues, or kidney disease are also more likely to experience it.
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How Can I Reduce Swelling In My Legs And Ankles After Knee Surgery
Icing and elevation Continue using ice packs or some form of cold therapy to help reduce swelling. For knee replacement, you will need to elevate the leg to help reduce swelling. It is important to elevate the entire leg, down to the ankle. When elevating, your feet should be above the level of your heart.
Home Treatment For Swollen Knees
It is important to consult with your physician before choosing a treatment plan. If advised by your doctor, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can aid in treating minor cases of knee swelling. Usually, these cases are due to knee osteoarthritis, non-septic knee bursitis, or a minor injury.
The RICE formula can also work. RICE is rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
- Rest: Rest for a period of 24 hours or longer to give the joint time to recover.
- Ice: Icing the area for 20 minutes three to four times per day can help decrease swelling and aid in healing. It is important to avoid putting ice directly on the skin.
- Compression: Wrapping the knee with an elastic bandage can help to limit swelling, but make sure it is not too tight.
- Elevation: Elevate the knee to help reduce blood flow to the area, which can help to reduce the swelling.
With RICE, swelling often goes down in one to three days.
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When To Call Your Doctor
If your pain and swelling are gettingworse and you can no longer put weight on your knee, see your doctor. A simpleX-ray can show if there is osteoarthritis and, if needed, an MRI scan can checkfor meniscal tears or loose chips of cartilage.
Arthroscopic surgery can sometimes remove loose cartilage. Partial or total knee replacements are other surgical options, especially for those who can no longer stay as active as theyd like. Sometimes computer assistance is used for some complicated knee replacements.
Surgery is a last resort, though,says Dr. Nickodem. Its something to consider when nonoperative treatmentsarent helping.
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Improper Positioning Of The Implants
Surgeons make an effort to balance the knee at the time of surgery. This means finding the proper size and alignment of the knee replacement so that the knee joint is not too tight and not too loose. The goal is to make this balancing the same whether the knee is straight or bent.
This is precisely why a knee replacement is a difficult procedure. In fact, the art of perfecting this takes many years. Errors in the positioning of an implant may not be apparent on the operating table. They may only become noticeable when the patient is slow to recover from surgery.
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An Infection Could Be Lurking
Perhaps the most dire cause of knee swelling, infection in the knee joint warrants a hasty trip to the doctor. When an infection gets into the knee joint, the knee quickly becomes really swollen, red, and hot, says Dr. Gladstone. If untreated, infection can affect the whole body, causing fevers and body shakes.
Though a poorly-cleaned gash on the knee can lead to infection, infections elsewhere in the body can make their way through the bloodstream and into joints, Dr. Gladstone explains.
What Are The Stages Of Arthritis Of The Knee
There are five stages of osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis that affects your knees:
- Stage 0 . If youre at stage 0, your knees are healthy. You dont have arthritis of the knee.
- Stage 1 . Stage 1 means that youve got some wear and tear in your knee joint. You probably wont notice pain.
- Stage 2 . The mild stage is when you might start to feel pain and stiffness, but theres still enough cartilage to keep the bones from actually touching.
- Stage 3 . If youre at the moderate stage, youll have more pain, especially when running, walking, squatting, and kneeling. Youll likely notice it after long periods of rest . You’re probably in a great deal of pain because the cartilage has narrowed even further and there are many bone spurs.
- Stage 4 . Severe osteoarthritis means that the cartilage is almost gone. Your knee is stiff, painful and possibly immobile. You might need surgery.
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How Can I Prevent Knee Pain
Although you canÃ¢t prevent all injuries, you can take these steps to make them less likely.
- Stop exercising if you feel pain in your knee.
- If you want to make your workout more intense, always do it gradually.
- Stretch your legs before and after physical activity.
- Use kneepads to prevent bursitis, especially if you have to kneel a lot.
- Wear shoes that fit well and offer enough support.
- Keep your thigh muscles strong with regular stretching and strengthening.
- If youÃ¢re overweight, work to drop some pounds so thereÃ¢s less stress on all of your joints, including your knees.
What Are The Treatments For Knee Arthritis
There isn’t a way to cure arthritis, but there are treatment methods that can help manage the symptoms.
Dr. Cafferky and his team will work with you to develop the best approach based on the type of arthritis, your individual needs, and the severity of your condition.
Conservative treatments methods may include:
Exercises to strengthen the muscles that support the knee
Physical or occupational therapy to increase flexibility and make everyday tasks easier
Braces to help support the knee or shoe inserts
If these treatments aren’t effective or the symptoms have worsened to a point where they affect your ability to live life to the fullest, it might be time to consider knee replacement surgery.
Knee replacement surgery is a highly-effective treatment for severe arthritis of the knee. During this procedure, any damaged areas of the cartilage and bone are removed and replaced with artificial joint surfaces. There are two potential knee replacement procedures:
Partial knee replacement surgery replaces select areas of bone and cartilage. Learn more about partial knee replacements.
Both options can provide excellent pain relief and improved function. If you’re a candidate for knee surgery, Dr. Cafferky will work with you to determine the most effective procedure based on the extent of damage to your knee, your age and health, and your overall activity level.
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How Is Knee Swelling Treated
Depending on the type and severity of your problem, treatments range from surgery to home remedies. Non-surgical remedies include:
- RICE: an abbreviation for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, is best to do shortly after suffering an injury. RICE can be helpful for managing minor pain.
- Compression: wrapping the knee not too tightly in an elastic bandage
- Physical therapy: doing exercises to strengthen the knee and improve its stability
- Wearing a brace on the knee
- Taking over-the-counter pain-relief medication
- If you are overweight, losing weight to reduce pressure on the knee
In some cases pain medication or a lubricating substance might be injected into the knee. Or a needle may be used to reduce swelling by removing excess fluid.
Physical Therapy For Knee Injuries
The expert team at Armor Physical Therapy has years of combined experience in identifying and treating the underlying cause of knee stiffness and other symptoms. When you come to us, well perform a thorough assessment to identify the source of your knee stiffness. We can then work closely with you to develop a customized treatment plan designed to improve flexibility and range of motion in the knee, while promoting long-term health and injury prevention.
Want to learn more about how we can help? Contact us today to schedule your initial appointment.
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What Causes A Swollen Knee
There are many causes of swelling in the knee, but often it is due to an injury. Damage to ligaments, especially the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, causes fluid to build up around the knee. Tearing the cartilage, overuse, and breaking bones can also cause fluid buildup.
However, other underlying conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, infection, gout, pseudo-gout, bursitis, cysts, and tumors, can also cause swelling.
What Are The Types Of Arthritis Of The Knee
There are around 100 types of arthritis. The most common types that might affect your knees include:
- Osteoarthritis is the most common of the types on this list. Osteoarthritis wears away your cartilage the cushioning between the three bones of your knee joint. Without that protection, your bones rub against each other. This can cause pain, stiffness and limited movement. It can also lead to the development of bone spurs. Osteoarthritis gets worse as time passes.
- Post-traumatic arthritis is a type of osteoarthritis. The cartilage starts thinning after trauma to your knee . Your bones rub together, and that causes the same symptoms as osteoarthritis: pain, stiffness and limited movement. Your knee arthritis symptoms might not start until years after the trauma.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. A healthy immune system causes inflammation when it’s trying to protect you from an infection, injury, toxin or another foreign invader. The inflammatory response is one way your body protects itself. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you have an unhealthy immune system that triggers inflammation in your joints even though theres no foreign invader. The inflammation causes pain, stiffness and swelling of the synovial membrane, which can also wear away your cartilage.
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How To Alleviate Knee Stiffness At Home
First, its always better to have a healthcare professional identify the cause of knee stiffness. That makes sure youll get the right treatment.
But with that said, here are some things you can try to manage it:
- Walk more. Aim for at least 5000 steps per day to improve your stiffness
- Strengthen your leg muscles with these exercises
- Put a heat pad on top of your knee for 15-20 minutes to loose your joint a bit
PS: If you also have other symptoms like pain, instability, swelling, etc, please go to a doctor before trying anything at home. Otherwise, you risk worsening your symptoms.
Persistent Knee Pain After Arthroscopy
Persistent Knee Pain after Arthroscopy
So youve had knee arthroscopy but your knee still hurts. This is something I frequently see in my office especially for second opinions. The usual scenario is one where a patient had arthroscopic knee surgery for a torn meniscus. The surgery went well but the patient still has pain even though its now 2-3 months later. These patients are usually quite frustrated because they were under the impression that they would bounce back fast after their simple surgery. Adding insult to injury is the fact that almost every patient has had a neighbor or co worker who had the same surgery and who was back doing everything in 2 weeks.
In order to really understand what is happening I need information. I spend a lot of time trying to understand the current symptoms but I also ask about the symptoms before the surgery. It is also extremely helpful when a patient brings in their Op report, Pre-operative MRI and surgical pictures. Patients can usually borrow the surgical photographs or perhaps even get their own copy. These pictures allow me to see the state of the articular cartilage and the severity of the treated meniscus tear.
I like to see recent X-rays. I usually take standing weight bearing views of both knees, Lateral and Patellofemoral Sunrise view. These X-ray films are very important because they tell you information that the MRI does not.
In most cases a good ear to listen and the tip of my finger are the best diagnostic tools.
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Tightness After Knee Surgery
After surgery, its expected that your knee feels tight when bending. This can be improved with adequate treatment. After surgery, its critical to follow the right steps to thoroughly heal and avoid knee tightness. By practicing rehabilitation exercises, you can improve the strength, stability, and flexibility of your knee.
Some common surgical procedures for the knee include:
Keep your knee brace on after surgery and use crutches. Be sure that the brace fits correctly. Two fingers should be able to fit beneath the strap. The brace is usually worn for two to six weeks.