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.
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.
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.
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Articles On Knee Pain
You can do many things to help knee pain, whether it’s due to a recent injury or arthritis you’ve had for years.
Follow these 11 dos and donâts to help your knees feel their best.
Donât rest too much. Too much rest can weaken your muscles, which can worsen joint pain. Find an exercise program that is safe for your knees and stick with it. If you’re not sure which motions are safe or how much you can do, talk with your doctor or a physical therapist.
Do exercise. Cardio exercises strengthen the muscles that support your knee and increase flexibility. Weight training and stretching do, too. For cardio, some good choices include walking, swimming, water aerobics, stationary cycling, and elliptical machines. Tai chi may also help ease stiffness and improve balance.
Donât risk a fall. A painful or unstable knee can make a fall more likely, which can cause more knee damage. Curb your risk of falling by making sure your home is well lit, using handrails on staircases, and using a sturdy ladder or foot stool if you need to reach something from a high shelf.
Do use “RICE.” Rest, ice, compression, and elevation is good for knee pain caused by a minor injury or an arthritis flare. Give your knee some rest, apply ice to reduce swelling, wear a compressive bandage, and keep your knee elevated.
Facts You Should Know About Knee Pain
- Knee pain is a common problem with many causes, from acute injuries to complications of medical conditions.
- Knee pain can be localized to a specific area of the knee or be diffuse throughout the knee.
- Knee pain is often accompanied by physical restriction.
- A thorough physical examination will usually establish the diagnosis of knee pain.
- The treatment of knee pain depends on the underlying cause.
- The prognosis of knee pain, even severe knee pain, is usually good although it might require surgery or other interventions.
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What Procedures And Tests Diagnose Knee Pain
A health care professional will begin by asking questions related to the person’s general health and then specifically to the nature of the knee pain .
Next, an examination of the knee will be performed. This will include bending the knee through the full range of motion, checking for stability of the ligaments, and evaluating for any tenderness and swelling. It is often helpful to compare the results of the examination of the painful knee with the other knee. Frequently, this is all that is required to make a diagnosis and start treatment. In several research studies, it has been found that an experienced examiner is as reliable as X-ray examination.
Sometimes the doctor might want to do further studies such as the following tests.
Plain X-ray can establish fractures and degenerative changes of the knee.
MRI is used to evaluate the soft tissues of the knee for ligament tears or cartilage and muscle injuries.
If gout, arthritis, or other medical conditions are suspected, a health care professional might order blood tests.
Removal of joint fluid
Questions To Ask The Doctor
Once you have gotten the appointment, its essential you ask all the necessary questions:
- What is the cause of these symptoms?
- What sort of tests do I need?
- What types of treatment are available?
- I have several other health conditionscan they be treated together?
Furthermore, in order to get a better view of the knee, you may need to request a certain test, depending on the cause.
- X-ray: An x-ray can help rule out broken or bones, and can determine if you have arthritis.
- Ultrasound: Ultrasounds can determine arthritis and other disorders that may be affecting the tendons or ligaments.
- MRI: An MRI can detect anything that an x-ray misses, such as torn ligaments or torn tissues.
You should never try and diagnose your own injuries. If the natural methods dont work, or if the swelling continues and the pain becomes severe to the point where no weight can be placed on it, then contact your doctor immediately. The longer the injury is left untreated, the worse the injury can become.
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How To Treat A Swollen Knee At Home
In many cases, a mild to moderately swollen knee may be treated at home. Home care typically involves Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation and medication. Read the descriptions of these treatments below to help maximize their benefit and avoid mistakes.
The 4-step R.I.C.E. Formula
1.Rest will give the joint time to repair and recover. Take a break from sports and other activities for 24 hours or longer. The joint should not necessarily be immobile people with knee swelling should try to gently flex and straighten the knee several times a day to maintain range of motion.
2.Icing is an easy, effective treatment for excess knee swelling. Cold therapy can ease symptoms by:
- Causing nearby blood vessels to constrict, decreasing blood flow and inflammation
- Slowing down the production of joint fluid in the knee
- Distracting the brain from pain signals to the brain
Apply a cold compress to the knee for no longer than 20 minutes at a time. This can be done several times a day.
Ice should not be applied directly to the skin. Prevent skin damage by placing a towel or another material in between the icepack and skin. Cold therapy may not be appropriate for people who have Raynauds Syndrome or nerve damage.
3.Compression involves wrapping the affected joint in an elastic bandage . Compression may help limit or reduce swelling.
Keep in mind that a compression bandage will not support the knee or protect it from further 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:
- A fracture
- 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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What Is The Best Treatment For A Swollen Knee
Basic treatment for a swollen knee should start with the RICE formula Rest, Ice, Compression , Elevation and analgesics such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.
Please visit this page for more on the RICE formula.
Many people will quickly begin treatments such as physiotherapy, chiropractic or osteopathy, without getting a clear knee pain diagnosis.
If you take this approach, you may have to go through a great deal of pain and spend lots of time and money on the wrong treatment without getting any better .
Treatments For Swollen Knee
Your treatment will depend on whats causing your swollen knee and how painful it is. Your doctor will recommend the most appropriate treatment after diagnosing the underlying cause.
In most cases, youll be advised to take painkillers. You can also apply ice and elevate your knee to help reduce the swelling. Sometimes removing some of the fluid in your knee helps reduce the pain and stiffness.
Other treatments include:
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Has Knee Pain Impacted Your Daily Activities
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Reducing Knee Pain And Swelling
Many treatments can help reduce pain and swelling in your knee. Your healthcare provider or physical therapist may suggest one or more of the following treatments:
Icing your knee. This helps reduce swelling. You may be asked to ice your knee once a day or more. Apply ice for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time, with at least 40 minutes between sessions. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin.
Keeping your leg raised above your heart. This helps excess fluid flow out of your knee joint to reduce swelling.
Compression. This means wrapping an elastic bandage or neoprene sleeve snugly around your knees. It keeps fluid from collecting in and around your knee joint.
Electrical stimulation. This is done by a physical therapist or athletic trainer. It can help reduce excess fluid in your knee joint.
Anti-inflammatory medicines. These may be prescribed by your healthcare provider. You may take pills or get shots in your knee.
Isometric exercises. These strengthen the muscles that support your knee joint. They also help reduce excess fluid in your knee.
Massage. This helps fluid drain away from your knee.
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Arthritis Is Wearing On Your Joints
A catch-all term for inflammation of a joint, arthritis is particularly common in the knee. It develops over time and typically causes knees to swell, stiffen, and become painful or difficult to move.
Per the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, knees are most often affected by two forms of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In osteoarthritis , cartilage throughout the knee jointwhich protects the ends of your boneswears away over time. Meanwhile, in rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the joint, damaging its connective tissues and bones.
How To Care For A Swollen Knee
When does a swollen knee require medical care, and when can it be treated at home? Mild to moderate knee swelling and knee effusionsometimes called water on the kneecan usually be treated at home. Medical attention is recommended if the knee is persistently swollen or accompanied by severe pain or other serious symptoms.
Read on to learn when to contact a doctor, how to treat a swollen knee at home, and how doctors can remove fluid from a knee using a process called aspiration.
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Diseases And Conditions That Could Lead To Swollen Knees
- Osteoarthritis: Torn cartilage of the knee joint can cause an overproduction of joint fluid, much like osteoarthritis.
- Rheumatoid: An autoimmune disease, which affects the lining of the joints, can cause the knee to swell, become stiff, and feel tender.
- Gout: This is an accumulation of microscopic uric acid crystals in the joint. Swelling may occur, resulting in severe pain and redness.
What Are The Professional Treatment Options For A Swollen Knee
Treatment of swollen knees depends on the cause of this condition.
If gout is diagnosed after uric acid crystals are seen in aspirated fluid taken from the affected knee, treatment involves medication in the form of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , colchicine and corticosteroids .
A tear to the ligament, tendon or bone fracture may necessitate a brace, support and surgery.
Swollen knees due to infection necessitate antibiotics, withdrawal of pus and bathing the affected area.
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Use Your Knee Brace And Crutches
If youve been fitted for a knee brace or had one recommended to you, make sure it fits properly. You should be able to insert two fingers under the strap. If its difficult to fit two fingers or if you can fit a third finger, youll need to adjust the tightness. Usually youll wear the brace for two to six weeks.
Use crutches if theyve been given and avoid putting any pressure on your knee until your doctor says its okay. Wait at least two weeks or until your doctor gives you the go-ahead before you bathe, swim, or use a hot tub. Follow a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids. Eat high-fiber foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure you have regular bowel movements. This will help while you may not have the benefit of moving around as much as usual.
Rest Ice Heat Compression And Elevation
Doctors recommend a combination of rest, ice, compression, and elevationcalled the RICE regimenfor one or two weeks after diagnosis. The time frame for RICE treatment varies depending on the severity of the knee injury and is determined by your doctor.
Resting the affected ligaments, tendons, muscles, and cartilage gives the knee time to heal. Your doctor may provide a cane or crutches to help you keep weight off the affected knee for about a week. After the swelling starts to subside, most people can walk while wearing a knee brace.
During the first 3 days after the injury, your doctor may recommend applying ice to your knee 3 times a day for 15 minutes at a time to reduce swelling. After this, applying a heating pad or another heat source, such as a heat wrap, can increase blood flow to the injured area and speed healing. Elevating the knee 3 times a day for 15 minutes at a time may also help reduce swelling.
Until the inflammation fully subsides, doctors recommend avoiding the activity that caused the injury, as well as other activities that put stress on the knee. Returning to work or sports too soon greatly increases the risk that a knee injury may heal slowly or worsen or that another injury may occur.
Your doctor determines when your knee has healed based on relief of your symptoms.
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