Treatments That Have Already Been Instituted
Many patients have undergone physiotherapy, steroid injection or previous arthroscopy. The success of previous therapies guides further management.
If a patient has not undergone physiotherapy this may be the first port of call particularly in anterior knee pain related to patellofemoral joint dysfunction. History of previous surgery, in particular total knee replacement or cruciate ligament reconstruction, associated with new onset of symptoms should warrant a referral to the orthopaedic surgeon.
When Should I Worry About A Swollen Knee
Knee swelling happens when fluid collects in or around the joint of a knee. Another term for a swollen knee is knee effusion or water on the knee. If knee swelling persists for more than three days, if swelling worsens, or if you experience severe pain alongside the swelling, seek the advice of a medical professional.
What If I Need Surgery On My Swollen Knee
Depending on your situation, surgery can range from arthroscopic surgery to replacing the knee joint with an artificial one.
Arthroscopic surgery uses a tiny camera that is part of an instrument called an arthroscope. It can be used as a tool for diagnosis as well as for treatment, and is usually an outpatient procedure . Depending on the type of surgery, physician therapy is often recommended afterward to restore mobility and strength in your knee.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/03/2018.
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When Should You See A Doctor For Swollen Knees
In most cases with a swollen knee, minimal to moderate knee swelling can be taken care of at home. What does it mean if my knee is swollen? The quick answer is the following cases are reasons to contact doctor:
- The knee is unable to full bend or straighten.
- The knee has a pronounced abnormality or is severely swollen.
- There is extreme pain in the knee.
- The patient is unable to walk on the knee and it feels like it is going to give out.
- The area is red and hot.
- The patient has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher.
- The knee has been swollen for 3 days or more.
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If one is uncertain about whether the swelling is serious or not, calling a doctor is a good decision to avoid future damage and resolve an issue within the joint. Hopefully, this article has given you some reasons for “what does it mean if my knee is swollen?”. If the swelling does not go away for an extended period of time, it is probably time to see a JOI Orthopedic Knee Specialist.
To schedule physical therapy with one of our 12 JOI Rehab centers, please call .
When To See Your Doctor
Its important that you see a doctor when seeking treatment. A doctor can determine the cause of your knee tightness, and together you can develop a treatment plan to resolve your condition. You may have a physical exam, imaging tests, or lab tests.
You may be referred to a doctor specializing in physical therapy or musculoskeletal and joint problems, or a rheumatologist. If you need surgery, youll be referred to an orthopedic surgeon.
The Healthline FindCare tool can provide options in your area if you dont already have a doctor.
When youre doing knee stretches and exercises its important that you follow a few guidelines in order to get the maximum benefits. Here are a few tips:
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Is Leg Swelling Down To The Knee Dangerous
Most cases of leg swelling from the knee down are not dangerous and may improve with simple lifestyle changes and self-care measures. However, there are cases when leg swelling can signify a more serious problem, such as deep vein thrombosis , which requires immediate medical attention.
Should leg swelling persist after self-care steps or lifestyle modifications have been made, you should contact your doctor for an evaluation.
It is important to note should you experience any of the following symptoms you should seek immediate medical attention:
- Sudden and severe swelling of the legs.
- Swelling that comes and goes but worsens at night.
- Leg swelling accompanied by chest pain or shortness of breath.
- Redness, warmth, or inflammation on the skin.
What Does It Mean If My Knee Is Swollen
Swelling in the knee, also known as knee effusion or water on the knee, occurs when fluid collects around the knee joint. Swelling can occur due to many different reasons and apply to all ages of patients.
While some reasons for swelling can be treated with over-the-counter medication, persistent and constant swelling can lead to tissue damage, bone softening, and cartilage loss.
The quick answer is when swelling in the knee is accompanied by constant pain and other issues, it is advised to seek medical attention. The following information will include common reasons to explain what does it mean when my knee is swollen. Below are common treatment methods and when it is advised to contact a doctor. Read this article about knee pain and 5 knee symptoms you should not ignore.
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Why Do My Knees Swell After Running
Does your knee swell after running? Physio Brad Beer discusses possible causes and solutions
Swelling of the knee can occur post-running, but its important to differentiate between swelling that occurs upon cessation of activity and swelling that occurs much later.
Acute knee trauma such as anterior cruciate ligament strains or ruptures, medial collateral ligament sprains, and meniscus injuries, can all result in an almost immediate onset of knee swelling. In such instances, the swelling can be very pronounced . Such a swelling response is due to tissue damage or internal derangement of a knee structure. Pronounced and rapid onset of knee swelling is due to bleeding within the joint, known as a haemarthrosis.
In comparison, many athletes, particularly masters athletes, will experience more mild swelling hours after running. Such swelling is typically the result of an excess secretion of synovial fluid from the knee joints synovial membrane. Athletes with symptomatic knee arthropathy may often experience post-running knee swelling or effusion. Likewise athletes with anterior knee or patello-femoral pain may also experience some mild to moderate effusion around the knee after running.
Getting A Diagnosis For Swollen Knee
Chronic swelling can cause permanent damage to the joint tissue, cartilage and bone. It is therefore important to ask your doctor for advice if your swelling doesnt go down.
They’ll discuss your symptoms and carry out a physical examination.
They may arrange for you to have some tests. These may include an:
They may also arrange for you to have joint aspiration. This is when a fine needle is inserted into the swollen area to check for blood, bacteria or crystals
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How Can I Prevent Knee Pain
Although you canât 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 youâre overweight, work to drop some pounds so thereâs less stress on all of your joints, including your knees.
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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What Causes Pseudogout
Pseudogout occurs when calcium pyrophosphate crystals form in the synovial fluid in the joints. Crystals can also deposit in the cartilage, where they can cause damage. Buildup of crystal in the joint fluid results in swollen joints and acute pain.
Researchers dont fully understand why the crystals form. The chance of them forming likely increases with age. Crystals form in about half of people over the age of 85, according to the Arthritis Foundation. However, many of them dont have pseudogout.
Pseudogout can often run in families, so many medical professionals believe it to be a genetic condition. Other contributing factors may include:
When To Call A Doctor
My philosophy is that any time you have joint swelling, you should see a doctor because you need to figure out what the problem is. Try to pinpoint when the effusion began in relation to your running or other athletic activities, especially if your knee has swelled up with no discernible cause, such as an overt injury, and you have no other symptoms that suggest a related illness. A physician can help shed light on the mystery, whether by physical exam, analysis of fluid drawn from the knee, or review of images such as MRIs or X-rays.
Also, if the knee is swollen but has some extra symptoms like redness or warmth of the skin and/or you have a fever, it could signal an infection. Get to an ER pronto.
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Treatment For A Swelling On Side Of Knee
With those that have a history of osteoarthritis and swelling after strenuous activity, like a workout or run, over-the-counter medications will help alleviate the pain. Patient may also apply compression sleeves to decrease the swelling during and after activity. Another way to decrease swelling at home is to use R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
Knee is swollen from Bursitis
- Rest Rest the joint and refrain from hard workouts, sports, and prolonged activity for 24-48 hours. Normal range of motion should continue to decrease joint stiffening.
REST for the RICE Protocol
- Ice Ice can be applied to the knee 3-4 times a day for 15-20 minutes at a time. Ice should never be applied directly to the skin.
Ice for the RICE Protocol
- Compression An ace bandage, compression sleeve or socks may not only reduce swelling already present, but may limit knee swelling during activity.
Compression Socks for the RICE Protocol
- Elevation Reducing blood flow to the area by sitting with the leg on a stool or lying down with the foot on a pillow, will reduce swelling.
Elevation Above Your Heart for RICE
Image of a swollen knee
Aetiology Of Knee Pain
Pain when ascending or descending stairs may indicate pathology from the patellofemoral joints. This is a direct result of the increase contact pressures on the patella when the knee is loaded in a flexed position. There is an increased incidence of patellofemoral disorders in women.
Night pain is red flag symptom. The most common cause of night pain in the adult is a severe degenerative arthritis. However, night pain in a child or a young adult may indicate an underlying pathology such as infection or neoplasm. The presence of night pain in an older patient with normal plain radiology of the knee may also be a red flag symptom.
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Locking And Giving Way
Symptoms of locking may occur immediately after injury or more commonly, after the initial acute, severe phase of injury has resolved. These symptoms are suggestive of a mechanical block, usually to extension in the knee.
Causes of mechanical block include:
A torn piece of meniscus caught between the femoral and tibial condyles
Chondral or osteochondral fragments
Occasionally, a torn anterior cruciate ligament with tissue blocking extension.
Giving way can be caused by the mechanical block as above, or instability from ligamentous pathology. Sportsmen often describe instability as the inability to trust their knee, especially when turning at pace. One further cause of locking or giving way is a perceived mechanical phenomenon due to patellofemoral pathology, either patellofemoral chondral wear, degeneration or mal-tracking. While this is not a true mechanical locking the patient perceives the sensation of locking, particularly after rising from a seated position after a long period or when squatting.
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.
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Questions For Diagnosing The Cause Of Behind Knee Swelling
To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your behind knee swelling including:
How long have you felt your behind knee swelling?
Is the swelling painful?
Is the swelling the result of an injury?
Do you have any chest pain or ?
Do you have any symptoms in other joints?
Does anything relieve or worsen your symptoms?
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 . Youre 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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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Arthritis Of The Knee
There are many signs and symptoms of arthritis of the knee:
- Creaking, clicking, grinding or snapping noises .
- Difficulty walking.
- Joint pain that changes depending on the weather.
- Joint stiffness.
- Knee joint pain that progresses slowly or pain that happens suddenly.
- Skin redness.
- Your knee locks or sticks when its trying to move.
- Warm skin.
Pain and swelling are the most common symptoms of arthritis of the knee. Some treatments might reduce the severity of your symptoms or even stall the progression. See your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of knee arthritis.
Prevent Your Knee From Swelling
Strengthen your legs. Strong legs protect your knees. Be sure your workout regimen includes regular lower-body strength training, in addition to any running and biking that you do. You may not be able to prevent knee effusion caused by health issues, but properly trained legs will help your knees recover in the long-run no matter what the issue turns out to be.
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Sitting Or Standing For Long Periods
Individuals that maintain a sedentary lifestyle or are required to remain stationary or standing at their job for extended periods may be at increased risk for leg swelling. When you sit or stand for extended periods, the blood begins to pool in your lower extremities, increasing pressure on your veins, which can lead to leg swelling.
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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Osteoarthritis The Most Common Reason For A Swollen Knee
Osteoarthritis is by nature an inflammatory condition. As your arthritis worsens you may notice that the swelling is always present in the knee. Removing the fluid from an arthritic knee will usually make you feel better. Unfortunately for many arthritis sufferers, the swelling might return very rapidly.
If your knee is swelling due to Osteoarthritis, its implied that your cartilage or the cushioning within the knee joint is wearing thin. The arthritic process also changes the chemicals within the knee and creates a rather hostile environment within the knee joint. This causes the Synovium to become irritated and produce a significant amount of fluid. Occasionally that fluid will migrate to the back of the knee and cause swelling in the back of the knee. If you have a swollen area in the back of the knee it is likely a Bakers cyst.