You Cant Straighten Your Knee Or Leg
If you have trouble straightening your leg or it hurts to do so, you probably have a serious knee injury.
To test this, start in a seated position and try to lift your lower leg using your own leg muscles. You may still be able to bear weight and walk slowly and carefully without assistance, but will probably require assistance to lift your lower leg and fully extend your injured knee, says Dr. Brown.
Patella fractures, quadriceps tendon tears, and patellar tendon tears all tend to be associated with an inability to straighten the leg.
Use a knee immobilizer to hold the knee in a straight position and help with pain relief. This also makes it easier to move about until your appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, he adds.
Another test is to lie down and try to straighten your leg. The goal is to get your knee to lie flat. This might be difficult or impossible to do due to the pain, but what you should watch out for is a total inability to straighten your knee.
Some of the problems that could cause a locked knee include meniscus tears or a torn ACL. The key is to determine whether you cant straighten your knee due to sheer pain or physical blockage. If you feel blocked, then we recommend getting in touch with a doctor sooner rather than later.
On the flip side, you might have trouble bending your knee. If your knee feels stuck in any way, and the feeling doesnt go away within a few hours, you could be experiencing something more severe.
Common Causes Of Fluid In The Knee
There are various issues that may cause fluid in knees. Here are some of the most common:
Knee Trauma or Injury – Trauma occurs when the knee joint is impacted from an outside force, resulting in injury to the knee. The type of fluid to enter the knee from a traumatic injury is usually blood or excess joint fluid, though other types of fluid in the knee may be present. The most common forms of knee injury to cause fluid in knees are:
- Meniscus Tears
- Ligament Injuries, such as ACL Tears
- Overuse Injuries
Arthritis – The are several types of arthritis that may cause fluid on the knee. The most common types that cause excessive knee fluid are:
- Osteoarthritis – the natural wear and tear of the cartilage around the knee due to aging
- Rheumatoid arthritis – a chronic inflammation of the joints due to an autoimmune disease
- Gout – a type of arthritis where a patient’s nutritional intake may cause uric acid to build up in the joints
Infection or Inflammation – When areas of the knee are inflamed, this causes the knee to swell with fluid as the body combats the injury or bacteria in the area. A common form of inflammation that causes fluid in knees is bursitis. Bursa are cushioning sacs around the body which when inflamed may cause swelling or excess knee fluid.
Treatment To Help Relieve Symptoms
If you have pain and discomfort because of your Bakers cyst, one or more of the following may be helpful:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . These can help to relieve pain and may also limit inflammation and swelling. There are many types and brands. You can buy at pharmacies, without a prescription. You need a prescription for the others. Side-effects sometimes occur with NSAIDs. Stomach pain and bleeding from the stomach are the most serious. Some people with asthma, high blood pressure, kidney failure and heart failure may not be able to take NSAIDs. So, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking them, to make sure they are suitable for you.
- Stronger pain relief. If the cyst ruptures, the fluid from inside the cyst may leak into the calf and cause worse pain. In this situation, stronger medication may be needed.
- Ice may also help to reduce swelling and pain. Make an ice pack by wrapping ice cubes in a plastic bag or towel. A bag of frozen peas is an alternative. Apply the ice pack for 10-30 minutes. Less than 10 minutes has little effect. More than 30 minutes may damage the skin.
- Crutches. It may be necessary to use crutches to get about until your symptoms ease. They help to take the weight off the affected leg while you are walking.
- Physiotherapy. Keeping your knee joint moving and using strengthening exercises to help the muscles around your knee may be helpful.
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What Causes A Swollen Knee
Knee swelling from mild knee osteoarthritis, non-septic knee bursitis, or a minor injury can be treated at home with over-the-counter medication and the R.I.C.E. formula. ReadHow to Care for a Swollen Knee
Swelling in a knee joint may limit knee flexibility and function. For example, a person may find it difficult to fully bend or completely straighten a swollen knee, and the joint may naturally bend 15° to 25° while the leg is at rest.1 The swollen knee may also be painful, red, and/or difficult to put weight on.
Depending on the underlying condition, a swollen knee may be treated at home using the R.I.C.E. formula or may require medical treatment. A doctor can make an accurate diagnosis.
Lifestyle And Home Remedies
Taking care of yourself when you have a swollen knee includes:
- Rest. Avoid weight-bearing activities as much as possible.
- Ice and elevation. To control pain and swelling, apply ice to your knee for 15 to 20 minutes every two to four hours. When you ice your knee, raise your knee higher than the level of your heart, using pillows for comfort.
- Pain relievers. Over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce your knee pain.
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How To Care For A Swollen Knee
This blog post was updated for content on October 20. 2020. Existing comments have not been modified or removed.
Knee swelling occurs when excess fluid accumulates on or around the knee joints. Doctors call this an effusion, and some people call it water on the knee. Sometimes, swelling will go away with home treatments. Other times, it may require visiting a doctor for medical treatment.
What Is Joint Effusion
Joint effusion happens when extra fluids flood the tissues around your joint. The fluids make your joint look larger and puffier compared to your other joints. Your bones form joints when two or more of them connect. Your knee, for example, is made up of three bones:
- The femur .
- The patella .
But your joints also consist of tissues that have various purposes:
- Bursas. These sacks of fluid act like protective cushions between your bones, ligaments and other parts of your joints.
- Cartilage. Cartilage covers each bone where it connects at your joints. This slick tissue protects your knee by keeping your bones from rubbing directly together.
- Ligaments. The elastic band-like ligaments connect your bones and support your joints.
- Synovial membrane. This important tissue lubricates your joints with a sticky liquid called synovial fluid.
- Tendons. Tendons connect bones and muscles. They control how your joints move.
All of these bones and tissues work together to help your joints function to help them bend, flex, straighten, rotate and bear your weight. Joint effusion is when fluids enter one or more of these tissues.
Joint effusion can affect your knee and other big joints. Examples include your:
These are symptoms of various diseases and conditions.
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Rare Causes Of A Swollen Knee
1. Knee Cap Dislocation: The patella usually glides in a groove at the front of the knee but a forceful injury can push it out to the side, resulting in a misshapened, swollen knee.
2. Patellar Tendonitis:Irritation of the patellar tendon can lead to mild swelling at the front of the knee.
3. Tumour:There are various types of tumour that can cause knee swelling. They are often accompanied by fatigue, weight loss and a general feeling of being unwell.
4. DVT: Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot in one of the deep veins, most common in the calf or thigh. They are normally painful, hot and red and are most common after prolonged bed rest, surgery or air travel. A DVT is a medical emergency – if you suspect you may have one see your doctor immediately.
5. Spontaneous Haemarthrosis: Sudden bleeding into the joint in someone with a blood clotting problem or who is taking blood thinners e.g. warfarin.
Gradual Increase In Pain
Arthritis pain usually starts slowly, although it can appear suddenly in some cases.
At first, you may notice pain in the morning or after youve been inactive for a while. Your knees may hurt when you climb stairs, stand up from a sitting position, or kneel. It may hurt just to go for a walk.
You may also feel pain when youre simply sitting down. Knee pain that wakes you up from sleep can be a symptom of OA.
For people with RA, the symptoms often start in the smaller joints. They are also more likely to be symmetrical, affecting both sides of the body. The joint may be warm and red.
With OA, symptoms may progress rapidly or they may develop over several years, depending on the individual. They can worsen and then remain stable for a long time, and they can vary by days. Factors that may cause them to worsen include cold weather, stress, and excessive activity.
With RA, symptoms usually appear over several weeks, but they can develop or worsen in a few days. A flare can happen when disease activity increases. Triggers vary, but they include changes in medication.
With OA, this can be:
- hard swelling, due to the formation of bone spurs
- soft swelling, as inflammation causes extra fluid to collect around the joint
Swelling may be more noticeable after a long period of inactivity, like when you first wake up in the morning.
This is because RA is a systemic disease, which means it affects the whole body. OA, meanwhile, only has a direct impact on the affected joint.
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Rapid Knee Swelling After An Injury
A swollen knee that develops immediately after an injury, within minutes, is usually due to haemarthrosis, where blood accumulates in the joint. Essentially what happens is that a structure inside the knee gets damaged and starts to bleed, building up pressure in the joint.
Knee swelling after an injury is normally profuse and the knee balloons up. It will feel tense and very sore and is often accompanied by bruising, although that may take longer to develop.
There are three main injuries that cause a swollen knee from a haemarthrosis:
A swollen knee caused by a haemarthrosis like these needs urgent medical attention.
Choose from the links or visit the Knee Injuries section to find out more about these common causes of knee swelling, including symptoms and treatment options.
What Are The Most Common Causes Of Joint Effusion
There are several reasons why your knee or other joints might swell with fluid. The most common reasons include:
- Infection. An infection in your joint is called septic arthritis. Septic arthritis is a serious disease that can damage or even destroy your joint. You might need a joint replacement a type of surgery because of it. When you have an infection, your joint tissues can fill with pus. Pus is a protein-rich liquid thats full of dead white blood cells.
- Inflammation. This may be from conditions such as arthritis especially osteoarthritis gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
- Overuse. This is when you use a joint too much. For example, running too hard and often might cause your knee to swell.
- Trauma. A ligament injury or a broken bone are examples of trauma that can lead to swelling. Possible causes of such injuries include contact sports and car accidents.
- Tumor. A mass of tissue that might be benign or cancerous.
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You Experience Greater Than Normal Movement
If you feel like your range of motion in the knee is higher than usual, something might be out of place or injured. This is known as joint instability.
You may feel like your knee will buckle or fold with walking, twisting, or weight-bearing.
The sensation of the knee giving away may occur with simple daily activities or upon return to sport following what was thought to be a minor injury, explains Dr. Brown.
Additional episodes of joint instability may worsen the condition of a knee after an injury. Tears of the ACL or MCL and patellar dislocations could also create joint instability, he says.
Hundreds of thousands of exercise injuries occur each year. Among these, knee injuries are the most common.
The best plan of action is to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.
Wear a compression-sleeve-type brace or a knee brace with hinges in the interim, says Dr. Brown.
This may provide some comfort or level of support. Use crutches if you feel like you could fall and suffer additional injury because of knee joint instability.
Another type of hypermobility can occur when the kneecap moves out of place. This condition is called a patella dislocation. Its usually painful when it happens, and it might be sore the next day. If it pops back in by itself, the injury might not be serious. The true test is whether you feel confident that you can resume regular activity later that day or the next day.
What Are The Potential Complications Of Behind Knee Swelling
Swelling related to cancers may have life-threatening consequences, which depend on the type and stage of the . Left untreated, swelling due to abscesses or serious infections may lead to widespread infection in the body. Behind knee swelling and associated symptoms can be due to serious diseases, so failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage.
Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:
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What Does A Knee Injury Feel Like
Obviously, it hurts! But the type of pain and where you feel it can vary, depending on what the problem is. You may have:
- Pain, usually when you bend or straighten the knee
- Trouble putting weight on the knee
- Problems moving your knee
- Knee buckling or âlockingâ
If you have these symptoms, see your doctor. They will check your knee. You may also need X-rays or an MRI to see more detail of the joint.
Diagnosing A Fluid In The Knee
Visually, a knee with fluid will usually look swollen and puffy. If your physician suspects that fluid in the knee may be an issue, he or she may extract some fluid from the knee using a sterile syringe to assess what type of fluid is present. A lab test may be requested to test for the presence of infection or other types of issues. Your doctor may also suggest an imaging test, such as X-ray , MRI or ultrasound which will help him or her evaluate the situation.
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How Is Joint Effusion Treated
The cause of your knee joint effusion determines its care and treatment. Often once the cause of the swollen joint gets treated, the swelling goes away. However, not all causes of a knee joint effusion are curable. For many, treatment consists of managing your symptoms instead of eliminating them. There are several ways healthcare providers manage your swollen joint. Examples include:
- Antibiotics help with infections. If you have septic arthritis an infection in your knee joint your healthcare provider might prescribe antibiotics.
- Arthrocentesis is where your healthcare provider drains the synovial fluid from your swollen joint. They might send it to a lab for testing. Tests could reveal bacteria, proteins, certain blood cells, glucose or other indications of various conditions.
- Colchicine is a medication for people who have gout. It helps with pain, inflammation and joint effusion.
- Steroids help block inflammatory chemicals. Arthritis can cause inflammation, and inflammation can cause joint effusion. Some steroids get swallowed, and others are injected right into your knee joint.
Contact your healthcare provider when you need treatment for a swollen joint. They can help you figure out the best treatment for your joint effusion.
You May Have An Autoimmune Condition
In addition to rheumatoid arthritis, a number of other autoimmune conditionsin which the immune system attacks the body in various wayscan contribute to swelling and pain throughout the body, including in the knees.
Though less common, systemic autoimmune conditions, like lupus, may cause swelling, Dr. Gladstone says. Like Lyme, these conditions may explain inflammation in the knees when nothing else can. Along with pain and swelling, people with autoimmune conditions often experience chronic fatigue, muscle aches, and low fevers.
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