Swollen Knee

by Sam Malone

A swollen knee is a common complaint and therefore a number of treatments have evolved over the years for the same. The problem arises in diagnosing the cause of the inflammation as swollen knee joints could develop over time as a symptom of an underlying medical condition or occur suddenly due to muscle strain or injury. Symptoms vary from knee swelling, stiffness of the joint, limited mobility, pain, redness, and fluid accumulation around the knee. Once the diagnosis is made, the proper treatment can begin.


There are a number of possible causes for a swollen knee. These include:

  • Fractures
  • Sprained ligaments
  • Torn cruciate ligaments
  • Rupture of the tendons
  • Dislocation of the knee
  • Infection of the knee
  • Blood clots in the knee
  • Fluid in the knee
  • Knee injury or trauma
  • Obesity
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Water retention
  • Pregnancy
  • Dehydration
  • Poor circulation
  • Hormonal changes due to menopause and menstruation
  • Insect bite on the knee
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Bursitis of the knee
  • Gout
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Chondromalacia patella – Softening of the knee cartilage
  • Lyme disease
  • Septic arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Lupus

Medical Treatment for a Swollen Knee

If the cause of the knee swelling is a fracture, your doctor may recommend a cast or splint to keep it immobilized until the bone is healed.
  • Sprained knee ligaments are treated with cold or ice packs to reduce inflammation and pain as well as with medication such as painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs
  • In case of torn ligaments and tendon ruptures, surgical repair is often necessary.
  • Procedures to reduce dislocation such as popping the patella back in place may be required.
  • Chronic swelling of the knee caused by arthritis is treated with over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications.
  • There is a new brand of anti-inflammatory medication known as biologics. These drugs specifically target the substance that causes the inflammation in cases of rheumatoid arthritis.

Home Remedies for a Swollen Knee

PRICE is what you should remember when it comes to treating a swollen knee. PRICE stands for protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
  • Protect – Wear a kneepad to prevent repetitive stress injury.
  • Rest - Keep the weight off your knees. If you need to move around invest in a pair of crutches to keep the weight off the joint.
  • Ice - Apply a cold or ice pack to your knee twice or thrice a day to reduce inflammation and pain. Always place a cloth or towel between your skin and the ice pack to protect the skin. Never use heat or a warm compress on a swollen knee as it will increase the inflammation.
  • Compression – Use an elastic bandage or knee brace to support the knee joint and provide compression. This will help decrease swelling and fluid buildup.
  • Elevate - Keep the knee elevated as often as you can. Prop a pillow under you leg so that the knee is higher than the heart. This encourages any excess fluid collected around the knee joint to drain faster.
Besides these five steps, other steps to reduce any swelling of the knee include:

  • Regular exercise that helps in reducing weight thus preventing injury of the muscles and joints. If you are overweight or have suffered from joint pain and inflammation, ease into an exercise routine slowly. Opt for joint-friendly exercises such as swimming and aqua aerobics rather than running and cycling.
  • Massage is an excellent way to reduce pain and inflammation. Always inform the masseur or therapist about any injury or weakness before hand.
  • Do not smoke as smoking can slow down or impair the healing process.

 A healthy diet can make a huge difference to an already swollen knee. Eating a balanced diet helps reduce obesity, decreases pressure on the joints and improves overall mobility and flexibility of the body. Include foods rich in vitamin C such as berries and citrus fruits as these help increase the production of collagen in the body. Collagen is an important component of bones and cartilages and can prevent pain and swelling as well as improve the healing process.

  • Foods rich in vitamin B such as soy, lean meat, eggs, whole grain cereals and fish can help reduce pain and swelling of the joints as well.
  • An increase in vitamin D rich foods such as fortified cereals and dairy products have proven to help prevent the onset of degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis.
  • A high sodium diet may increase swelling and inflammation of the joints.
  • Research also indicates that omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as walnuts and oily fish help reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process.
If the swelling does not reduce after 72 hours or the pain increases, contact your doctor at the earliest.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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