Practical Guide on How to Treat a Swollen Knee

Knee swelling is a typical condition caused by an accumulation of fluid around or in your knee joint. It is typically referred to as knee joint effusion or water on the knees. This issue may occur gradually or abruptly, and it can limit your mobility or cause you great discomfort. In most cases, swollen knees develop after a person has suffered from knee injury. However, it may also arise for no apparent reason or may be caused by an ongoing problem with your knees.

swollen knee pain


Understanding the Causes of Swollen Knees

A joint capsule , which is an important component of your knee, is quite like a sac surrounding the entire joint. It contains synovial fluid that lubricates and strengthens the joint while allowing it to move smoothly. The capsule also serves as a container that keep the fluid within your knee joint.

When the swelling occurs on your joint capsule’s exterior, this condition is referred to as extra-articular swelling. This is due to bursitis or the inflammation in one of the several sacs outside your joint, as well as a forceful injury to your muscles located around the knee.

The bursa are small sacs filled with fluid, which are located between your soft tissues and bones to minimize friction. Inflammation may occur when there is intense friction on these areas. Moreover, you may get layers of swelling instead of a general knee swelling. The swelling and the pain in the front part of your knee cap may be due to pre-patellar bursitis, while swelling behind your knee is caused by popliteal bursitis.

Haematoma is another cause of swollen knees. For instance, blunt trauma to soft tissues surrounding the knee may lead to bleeding. When blood begins to accumulate around your muscles, this can build up into a stiff and hard lump. However, a small amount of bleeding is referred to as a bruise or contusion.

When fluid accumulates on your knees, this can lead to a serious health problem. Thus, you need to consult your doctor when you experience persistent or unexplained swelling on your knees.


Swollen Knee Treatment Options

If you suffer from painful or swollen knees, you may consider applying simple techniques to treat this condition at home. The following are among the best ways to treat swollen knees and prevent this issue from worsening.


1. Apply ice or cold compress on the painful area.

Cold compress is an effective means of relieving swelling and pain, so make sure you apply ice pack to your knee at least thrice a day for 20 minutes. Make sure the ice pack or bag is big enough to cover the entire painful area. Then, place a thin cloth between your skin and ice to prevent damages to the skin because of extreme coldness.


2. Compress your knee with a bandage.

Wrapping a bandage around swollen and painful knees can prevent the accumulation of fluids in the damaged tissue. Furthermore, this practice provides excellent support the your knees. However, never wrap the bandage too tightly, and you should loosen it when you suddenly feel cool or numb around the wrapped area.


3. Take some time to rest

By resting, this does not necessarily mean you should stay in bed and be immobile for days. What you need to do is to limit the amount of pressure on your knee whenever possible. Allot ample time in resting your knees, and use crutches or a cane if you need to move and put pressure on the knee.


4. Elevate your swollen knees.

If your knees are swollen, you should elevate them to relieve the pain and discomfort. When at home, you may use a recliner or prop up a few pillows that can help elevate the painful leg.


5. Take medications.

While rest, compression, elevation and ice can help relieve swelling and pain in your knees, some people decide to take OTC medications such as naproxen, ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen for immediate relief. There are also topical analgesics such as lidocaine, menthol and capsaicin that can provide comfort a few minutes after you rub these directly on your knees. Before you take any medications, make sure you follow package directions and adhere to the recommended dosage to minimize risks of developing side effects.

swollen knee

As the swelling and pain slowly diminish, you may consider doing simple and gentle stretching exercises without overworking your knees and joints. If the pain persists, contact your doctor for further evaluation of your condition and a more effective treatment option.

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