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.
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:
Risk Factors For A Swollen Knee
- Being overweight or obese your knees are weight-bearing so any excess weight puts more strain on them, which can damage your knee joint over time; obesity also increases the risk of osteoarthritis, which is a common cause of a swollen knees
- Playing certain sports if you take part in sports that involve pivoting, rotating or twisting your knees, youre at greater risk of knee injuries, which cause swelling
- Your age your risk increases as you get older
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Diagnosis And Treatment Of A Swollen Knee
When a person is experiencing a swollen knee, the doctor may either take a sample of the fluid inside the knee, or order X-rays or an MRI to confirm a diagnosis. If its a minor injury, the medical provider may recommend rest, icing, compression, and elevation of the knee .
Depending on the severity, the doctor may also recommend medication, steroid injections, or physical therapy. In extreme cases, a patient may require surgery.
Can Knee Pain In Teens Be Prevented
Most knee pain that is caused by injury or overuse can be prevented with some attention and work by your teen, including:
- Make sure your teen wears proper shoes for the activity/sport and wears knee pads and leg guards . Replace worn out footwear and gear.
- Engage in muscle strength training exercises. Check with a trainer to make sure proper form and body alignment are being followed. Always do warm up and cool down exercises before and after workouts.
- Keep your muscles flexible by proper stretching exercises or yoga.
- Dont engage in activities that cause or worsen knee pain.
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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 Causes Knee Pain
Knee pain can have many different causes. Common causes of knee pain include:;
- Overuse injury;
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You Felt Or Heard A Pop
Sometimes, a popping sound after a movement can indicate something is out of place.
Oftentimes this type of sound upon injury is indicative of a ligamentous injury, says Schwabe. Not all ligamentous injuries are full tears, though, and not all require surgery.
However, if you also experience excessive swelling and instability, get it checked out by an M.D. If you only have a mild sprain then you will be able to rehab it with physical therapy, he says.
The pop is what you hear as a result of a ligament tear, a meniscus tear, strained tendons, or a dislocated kneecap. Usually what happens is youll simultaneously hear and feel the pop.
If youre not familiar with the meniscus, its the cartilage in the knee that functions as a shock absorber. Each knee has two menisci, and theyre shaped like horseshoes. The medial meniscus is on the inside of the knee, and the lateral meniscus is on the outside.
The popping sensation can be difficult to explain, but youll certainly know it when it happens to you. Though the sound originates in the knee, youll hear it as though it was directly in your ear. Its as if the sensation travels up your body, and when it gets to your brain, it becomes audible.
If the pain is severe, youll want to visit a doctor as soon as possible. Surgery is often the recommended course of action, but physical therapy and other non-invasive remedies may be prescribed as alternatives.
Deformities Of The Knee
The appearance of the knee can change during a flare and as damage progresses.
In RA, swelling and redness are common during a flare. In the long term, persistent inflammation can result in permanent damage to the cartilage and the tendons. This can affect the shape and appearance of the knee.
With OA, the muscles around the knee can weaken, resulting in a sunken appearance. The knees can start to point toward each other or bend outward.
Knee deformities range from barely noticeable to severe and debilitating.
Treatment will depend on the type of arthritis a person has.
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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.
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.
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Common Reasons For A Swollen Knee
So often in physical therapy, patients ask us “what does it mean if my knee is swollen?”
- Osteoarthritis This is the most common cause of a swollen knee. ;Osteoarthritis is caused by the cartilage in the joint wearing down resulting in a bone-on-bone joint. ;This also causes a chemical change in the knee and can create a hostile environment causing pain and fluid to build up in the joint.;
- Injury or Trauma Any injury to the bones, ligaments, meniscus, tendons, bursae, or cartilage in the knee can cause pain and swelling. Some serious trauma and injuries can even lead to blood in the joint. ;With a vast amount of blood in the joint, significant knee swelling is expected as well as some stiffness and bruising.;
- Bursitis Bursa, the small fluid-filled sacs that protect joints, can become inflamed and fill with fluid causing the swelling in the knee. ;The joint can become painful and will often feel squishy to the affected. Sometimes the bursa can get infected and fill with pus which will also increase swelling in the knee. ;This can cause redness and an increase in temperature in the joint. Infrapatellar bursitis can often occur when you bump your knee and cause an extreme amount of pain when kneeling.
- If you would like to learn more about the anatomy of the knee, please watch this;video.
Or You May Have A Bakers Cyst
Also known as popliteal or synovial cysts, Bakers cysts are fluid-filled lumps that develop on the back of the knee. According to Dr. Gladstone, theyre pretty common and nothing to be too alarmed about.
Deep within the knee joint, theres a layer of thin tissue called the capsule between your bones, Dr. Gladstone explains. When some sort of damage causes swelling within the knee joint, the pressure pushes extra fluid in the capsule out behind the knee joint, essentially creating a what looks like a swollen ball at the back of the knee.
Not typically too painful, Bakers cysts are often caused by arthritis or an acute injury within the knee. In some cases, they disappear on their own, but often reoccur if you dont treat the underlying cause.
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What Are The Symptoms
Your knee can accept small amounts of fluid without causing any symptoms. However, when the amount of fluid is too much, symptoms often result. Commonly, there is a noticeable enlargement of your knee as well as some loss of motion. Frequently, this is accompanied by pain, most often in the back of your knee or above your knee cap. This pain is particularly noticeable when bending your knee.
The following video ilustrates two simple ways to determine if you have a small amount of fluid in your knee
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.
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How Is Knee Pain In Teens Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will ask about your teens knee pain:
- Is there a known cause for the knee pain does it happen with certain movements or is there no specific known event?
- How long has the pain been present?
- Where on or around your knee do you feel pain?
- Does the pain wake you up at night?
Your provider will perform a physical exam, checking:
- Kneecap and knee stability.
- Alignment of lower leg, kneecap and thigh.
- Range of motion of hips and knees.
- Thigh muscle strength, flexibility, firmness.
Your provider may order imaging tests including X-rays or a CT scan or MRI .
Swelling Behind The Knee
Reviewed by:;KPE Medical Review Board
There are a number of different causes of swelling behind the knee.
The most common is a Bakers Cyst where there is inflammation of the popliteal bursa at the back of the knee.
Sometimes there is back of knee swelling and pain, other times there is a lump behind the knee but no pain associated with it. It might be that only one knee is swollen, or there may be swelling behind both knees.
Most times when the back of the knee is swollen, it can be treated with a combination of rest, regular ice, compression bandages, exercises and physical therapy, but some case may require knee surgery.
What Are The Symptoms Of Knee Pain In Teens
Symptoms depend on whats causing your teens knee pain.
Anterior knee pain:
- Pain begins gradually; worsens with activity.
- Dull, aching pain behind the kneecap, below the knee or on sides of the kneecap.
- Pain flares and grinding sensation with repeat knee bending .
- Thigh muscle weakness .
- Knee buckles .
Trauma to knee:
- Popping, clicking, crackling in the knee when bending .
- Knee that locks or buckles.
- Pain on the bony prominence.
- Pain that varies and gets worse during or just after the activity.
- Reduced range of movement.
- Pain, tenderness and swelling at the bottom of the kneecap.
- Balance problems.
- Trouble putting weight on the affected leg; limps first thing in the morning.
- Redness, swelling, warmth, stiffness and soreness in joints, including the knee.
- Symptoms come and go.
- Dull ache, stiffness and swelling at the knee.
- Joint clicking.
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.
If you want to learn more about knee pain, go to: ;
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.
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Acute Onset Without Injury
Rapid onset of swelling with no injury is abroad category wherein the accumulation of fluid is not due to an injury or a chronic condition, such as:
- Infection can result in joint fluid accumulation, often as a result of surgery, a knee wound, or systemic infection that spreads to the joint. Treatment can be a problem as the body has a tough time clearing infection from this space. Surgery may be required to fully clean out a .
- Gout and pseudogout involve a buildup of crystals in the knee fluid. With gout, the uric acid used to transport waste can accumulate and crystallize in various joints of the body, causing intense swelling and pain. With pseudogout, the culprit is calcium crystals.
Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Knee
OA is the most common type. It is a progressive condition in which the cartilage in the knee joint gradually wears away. It usually appears after midlife.
RA is an inflammatory condition that can occur at any age. It affects the whole body and can involve other joints and additional symptoms. It is an autoimmune disease.
Arthritis can also develop after a knee injury. Post-traumatic arthritis can result from a torn meniscus, ligament injury, or knee fracture. Symptoms can appear several years later.
OA and RA can cause similar symptoms, but there are also some key differences. Learn more here about how to recognize each type.