Swollen knee is commonly called as “water on the knee”. There can be several reasons for swelling or inflammation of the knee and the pain associated with swollen knee can be mild to severe. The swelling can be acute or due to sudden injury and sometimes it can be gradual process due to accumulation of synovial fluid. Similarly swelling can be inside the knee or in its neighboring regions. Before the doctor begins treatment, he should find out what exactly is the cause of swollen knee.
Mechanism Of The Knee :
Knee joint is in the form of capsule having some space inside. This space contains lubricating fluid for facilitating flexible knee movement. But due to some reasons, there may be excess of fluid accumulation inside the space causing swollen knee. It is called as “knee effusion”.
Swollen Knee Causes :
There are two major categories of swollen knee. The first one is fluid accumulation inside the knee joint. This is caused due to two conditions namely acute and chronic.
- Acute :
Injury or trauma that has caused knee to swell recently is one of the reasons. Acute injury can occur to anyone during a fall thereby causing accumulation of blood inside the knee. It can be due to ACL tear or even a fracture or damage of cartilages inside. This type of acute accident can cause the knee to develop swelling within minutes because of the fluid pressure inside. Sometimes, meniscus tear or sprain on the knee can cause fluid (not blood) to collect inside the joint space. But this type of injury takes enough time (delayed swelling) and sometimes days to develop inflammation. Here the amount of synovial fluid gets collected inside may vary significantly however this type of tear or sprain does not produce any tense moments like that of blood accumulation due to rapid injury.
- Chronic :
Second one is the chronic condition of knee swelling like that of arthritis, gout and infection inside. Chronic injury does not happen all of a sudden; rather it takes enough time since it is a gradual process. Sometimes there may be pain and sometimes not. In rare cases, there can be rapid swelling without injury.
Infection on the knee and gout belongs to this category. In case of infection due to wounds or surgery the fluid inside should be drained out from the space. Gout is yet another reason for causing swollen knee which builds crystals of uric acid inside the space. Uric acid is produced during digestion for transporting waste products from the body and people who suffer from gout will have large amount of uric acid inside the knee space causing inflammation and pain.
Swollen knee is also caused when there is accumulation of fluid outside the knee. In this category, the soft tissues present outside the knee joint gets inflamed and becomes swollen. Bursitis and haematoma are examples of such condition in which there is extensive fluid accumulation on the top of kneecap. Fluid will get collected due to contusion on the knee or due to forceful injury like a fall.
Other Causes :
In very rare cases, the knee cap gets dislocated due to fatal fall pushing the cap to one side. There can be tumor on the knee joint and sometimes knee gets swollen due to deep vein thrombosis (marked by red color and tenderness) which is often seen after prolonged travel or bed rest.
Common signs of swollen knee are bulging of knee and pain. The affected knee becomes larger than the other one due to considerable amount of fluid inside. The intensity of pain varies widely ranging from mild to severe. Some of the other signs of swollen knee are difficulty in moving the legs or walking. Conditions like arthritis do not develop overnight since it is a process but it takes sufficient time for healing. In case the swollen knee is without fracture the affected person can move his knee with difficulty. The seriousness of the disease depends on what exactly caused swelling and accordingly the treatment is given.
Pictures, Pics, Photos and Images of Swollen Knee :
As said earlier, your doctor will have to find out the root cause of swollen knee before starting any treatment. Before going to hospital, you can apply ice on the swollen knee to reduce the blood flow and decreasing inflammation. In case of mild to moderate pain without injury you can use knee braces for reducing the pain and swelling. Further you can take anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen for getting effective result.
Some doctors give aspiration therapy for swollen knee for draining out the synovial fluid inside. He may also give shots of cortisone for suppressing the immune system and for relieving the pain.
In case if the swelling of knee is due to arthritis then you need to make lifestyle changes and dietary modifications for living with arthritis pain. Further your doctor will ask you to do regular exercises for reliving the pain and managing inflammation apart from taking medications.