Swelling Knee – Causes, Pictures, Symptoms And Treatment

Swelling knee is the result of accumulation of excessive lymph or water around the knee joint or in it. It is also referred as knee effusion. Many people commonly call it as water in the knee. The swollen knee can have an acute or chronic effect on the person suffering from it; this depends completely on the reason behind the swelling knee.

Swelling Knee

Causes of Swelling Knee

Most common causes of swelling knee:

  • Bleeding in the joint: This is normally a result of an injury. The swelling starts to appear immediately and the swollen area appears to be tender.
  • Accumulation of lymph: This is the accumulation of lymph, a thick liquid, near the knee joint. The reasons for this accumulation can vary from stress to health problems.
  • Infection: A systemic or after-surgery effect can lead to the development of bacteria around the joints. This bacterial development in the joints results in the joint infection and swollen joint.
  • Fracture/ muscle ruptures: A chronic or acute fracture and the ligament tear are also responsible for the swelling around the knee. The dislocated bone pushes the sides of the membrane around the knee joint, which makes the expanded membrane to fill itself with air. The swollen membrane appears as the swelling from the outside.

There are various other reasons for swelling knee:

  • Arthritis: Joints are affected majorly in a disease. Water is accumulated around the joints and they appear to be swollen.
  • Obesity: Overweight or obese people tend to have tender knee joints. The excessive weight hampers the knee joints and creates stress around it. This stress results in swelling around the knee joint.
  • Cyst: The development of cyst around the knee joint can be one of the reasons for the swollen knee joint. This cyst might contain a semi-solid fluid, a membrane, air, or pus. The reason behind the development of cyst needs to be diagnosed.

Other rare causes of swelling knee:

  • Tumor: An abnormal growth of a chunk of flesh around the knee joint can be a reason behind swelling knee.
  • Runners knee: This can happen to those who bend their knees a lot. The over usage of the knee joint can lead to runners knee
  • DVT: Deep vein thrombosis can result after a prolonged bed rest, surgery, or excessive travelling. In this, a blood clot is developed deep in the veins that causes the knee joint to appear as swollen.

Swelling Knee Symptoms

Pain in the knee is the common symptom. The swelling around the knee can also be diagnosed by reduced mobility or pain while walking. Bowlegs are a sign of arthritis. The uneven surface around the knees. Slightly sluggish feeling around the knees is a common symptom of swelling knees. The symptoms of swollen knees are not many, but to know the reason behind the swelling it is necessary to get it diagnosed properly to avoid any further complication

Diagnosis of Swelling Knee

  • The fluid accumulated inside the knee joint can be extracted via injection and can be tested to see for the infectious development, if any, and then can be treated accordingly.
  • The MRI can be done to see the deformities/ abnormalities around the bone. It will also help in diagnosing the ligament tear.
  • The X-ray can be done to look for the hairline fractures or dislocation of the bones.
  • Blood tests can be helpful in diagnosing the systemic reasons behind the swollen knee.

Treatment of Swelling Knee

The immediate home remedies to ease out the sudden swelling knee can be classified as follows:

  • Ice pack: Applying an ice pack around the affected area gives immediate relief and helps in preventing further swelling around the knee joint.
  • Wrapping: Wrapping crape bandage around the affected area helps in easing out the pain. This reduces the air accumulation and prevents the water accumulation around the joint.
  • Ointment: for mild swelling knee, an ointment can be applied to get relief from the pain and reducing the swelling.
  • Rest: Taking a proper rest also helps in easing out the stressed knee joint. Proper rest also helps in rejuvenating the lost strength around the knee joint by decreasing the swelling.
  • Elevation: Put the affected leg on a pillow to give an elevation to it. This result in reverse flow of the fluids back to the brain and reduces the swelling.

Other treatments depend on the diagnosis. The diagnosis will help in further disclosing the treatment for the swollen knee. In case of fractures or dislocation of the bone, plaster needs to be applied with a proper rest of a month or more. The infection around the knee joint can be treated with the help of antibiotics prescribed by the doctor or can be treated by surgery as well. The systemic infections like arthritis need a prolonged or lifelong medication along with extensive care. Proper exercise can also be one of the treatments depending upon the diagnosis.


The treatment for swelling knee might vary but with a few basic tips mentioned above, it can be prevented from growing further. The symptoms are very few and hence needs to be diagnosed immediately to start the appropriate treatment. With a good knowledge about the knee, swelling it will be easier for all to judge the urgency and intensity of the swelling around the knee and mend to it.

A swelling knee can be a result of one problem or more, to know the accuracy it is necessary to not avoid the swelling even when it is mild, and consult the physician. Many a times it is seen that at an initial level the swelling might go away without doing anything, but this does not mean that proper treatment is not required. An infection in the beginning might not result in chronic swelling but at a later stage, it can cause a lot of trouble. The most advisable tip for anyone is to treat the knee swelling with the help of the home remedies mentioned above and the see to the doctor as soon as possible.

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