How to Treat Knee Pain and Swelling?

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Joint Pain
Q: My right knee started hurting and swelling due to an accident which I met a couple of weeks back I could barely walk I went to the doctor and got it x-rayed. No fracture was found but it has swelled badly. Does anyone have an idea what it is?
Expert Answer

Swollen knee is the accumulation of fluid in and around the knee joint after an injury or in some cases due to an ongoing knee problem.

ongoing knee problem

Swollen knee can be caused by:

  • An Accumulation of the Synovial Fluid: This is also called water on the knee or a knee joint effusion. The accumulation of the synovial fluid can come gradually and then go. Arthritis is susceptible of this kind of symptom.
  • Bleeding in The Joints: This is also called hemarthrosis. Hemarthrosis is usually caused by an injury and the swelling usually come within minutes from the injured time.

Knee swelling usually develops in four ways:

  • Gradual Swelling: This swelling develops and fluctuates without an injury. This is usually as a result of underlying knee problem. The fluid will come and go and usually varies in amounts. Arthritis is susceptible of this swelling. This swelling can also occur when the legs are overworked, twisted or knocked. The joints will get irritated and produce a lot of fluid so as to facilitate the healing process.
  • Rapid Swelling: This swelling comes up immediately after the time of the injury. This is usually caused by hemarthrosis when there is accumulation of blood in the joints. There is always too much swelling and the knee usually gets a balloon shape.

Hemarthrosis is caused by:

  • Meniscus Tear: This is a tear which is usually occurs in the outer rim of the cartilage lining the knee.
  • Meniscus Tear


  • Ligament Tear: This tear occurs when the ligament ruptures. It usually affects the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL).
  • Bone Fracture: Haemorthrosis can occur when one of the knee bones break.
  • Delayed Swelling: This swelling appears a few hours after an injury. This is usually caused by increase in the synovial fluid in the joints. This is as a result of irritation when the knee is slightly damaged. The knee does not feel tense and the swelling varies day to day and in some cases it can come and go as it heals. The healing time for soft tissues such as the muscles and ligament is usually 6-12 weeks but the cartilage usually takes a bit longer because of the poor blood supply.
  • Swelling of the knee can also be caused by:

    • Bursitis: This occurs when there is excess friction on the bursae resulting to inflammation.
    • Haematoma: This is trauma in the soft tissues around the knee which causes bleeding. The blood results to a hard lump around the muscles.
    • Tumour: Several types of tumours can cause knee swelling.
    • Knee Cap Dislocation: This happens when an injury causes the patella to move to the side which results to knee swelling.
    • Deep vein Thrombosis: (DVT) This is a blood clot in one of the deep veins. DVT is common after a long travel, surgery and bed rest.
    • Runner’s knee: This is the irritation of the patella tendons resulting to mild swelling.
    • Spontaneous Hemarthrosis: Spontaneous hemarthrosis is as a result of blood clotting problem and the reaction of blood thinness such as warfarin.

    Knee pain and swelling can be treated according to the cause of the swelling. The common ways of treating knee pain and swelling are:

    • Compression: This is by the use of tubigrip and knee braces which compress the knee to reduce the swelling.
    • Ice: Ice is usually used to slow down the blood flow resulting to reduced swelling and pain.
    • Ice on Knee


    • Cortisone Injections: Cortisone suppresses the immune system leading to reduced inflammation and pain.
    • Aspirations: Aspirations can be done by a doctor using a needle to draw out water in the knee.
    • Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.



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    4 comments

    • Try seeing a Chiropractor. You’re knees are holding most of your body weight and if your body is not in alignment those joints will ache and swell horribly! Your bodies alignment will not only effect all of your joints but every system in your body. The CNS controls everything so you need to take care of it.

    • 1.      
      The methods used to treat a swollen knee depend
      on the condition of knee.  RICE is best
      for 1 week. If nothing changes you have to go to doctor.

    • I
      slipped from my stairs. I then have the problem of Knee Cap Dislocation.  For a complete 1 month I was unable to walk
      with ease. I have to take care of mine. I had to take medicine and precaution
      and I had to wear the knee braces. Your problem will too go away. You just need
      to be patient and take proper care of your knee.