Knee Swelling

Help relieve knee joint pain, swelling and stiffness in swollen knees

Information on Knee Joint Pain and Swelling Relief

Select a Topic

  1. What Causes Knee Swelling?
  2. Swollen Knees During Pregnancy
  3. Swollen Knees in Children
  4. Foods to Help Reduce Knee Swelling
  5. How to Prevent and Reduce Knee Swelling

What Causes Knee Swelling?

Swelling of the knee causes the knee to become stiff and tight and will restrict one’s ability to straighten or bend the knee properly. Swelling is one of the most common knee problems that doctors see and it is something that needs to be evaluated, especially if the swelling lasts longer than 48 hours, or if it is accompanied by intense pain that is not eased with pain relief medication.

There are a number of causes of knee swelling, the most common of which is arthritis. Other causes include the following:

  • Infection (infection of the knee is serious and requires swift medical treatment)
  • Pregnancy
  • Blood clots
  • Trauma or injury to the knee (e.g., after a fall or a cruciate ligament, meniscal, or collateral ligament tear )
  • Dehydration
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Water retention or fluid buildup from infection, blood or joint fluid
  • Poor circulation
  • Insect bite
  • Menopause
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Mono
  • Autoimmune disease (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Bursitis
  • Gout
  • Tendoniti
  • Chondromalacia patella (a condition that causes a softening of the cartilage)
  • Over-use or strain during exercise

Swollen Knees During Pregnancy

It is not uncommon to experience swelling (edema) during pregnancy, particularly in the second trimester and beyond as blood flow is increased and the uterus puts pressure on the vena cava, a major blood vessel that returns blood to the heart from the legs. Fluid retention from these conditions can lead to swollen knees, and can also affect the hands and lower extremities in general.

Help avoid swollen knees by resting when possible, ensuring to elevate your feet. Avoid prolonged sitting or standing to help relieve pressure on the vena cava and to stimulate blood circulation. Warm weather tends to increase swelling, so do not get overheated. Cool compresses can also help decrease swelling and are great when used in combination with rest.

However, swelling during pregnancy may also be a sign of a more serious condition known as pre-eclampsia, or hypertension. Consult your doctor to rule out any abnormal swelling that is severe, does not subside with rest, involves multiple areas of the body, or is accompanied by headaches, visual disturbances, or abdominal pain.

Swollen Knees in Children

While many children may experience swollen knees as a result of fall or injury, the swelling could be related to other causes. Particularly for children living in high-risk areas for Lyme disease, notably the northeastern region of the United States, it is important to rule out Lyme disease, which can cause persistent joint inflammation and swelling in the later stages.

Children should also be evaluated for septic arthritis, a painful infection of the joint that is accompanied by warmth and swelling. The bacteria that causes this condition typically afflicts the knees, although it could affect other joints as well.

Both of these conditions should be evaluated and treated with professional medical care.

Foods to Help Reduce Knee Swelling

Following a healthy diet will promote overall strength, health and vitality in the body to avoid many of the causes of knee swelling such as obesity, and certain foods can even help reduce existing swelling.

  • Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries – 3 berries rich in vitamin C – help promote collagen, a key component to cartilage and bone, which can help prevent wear and tear on the joints that can lead to pain and swelling. Vitamin C is also provides great antioxidant benefits that can reduce osteoarthritis inflammation and swelling. Other foods rich in vitamin C include broccoli, red peppers, citrus fruits, cabbage, cauliflower, and spinach.
  • Foods rich in vitamin B may help reduce joint inflammation and pain, including lean meat, fish, eggs, soybeans, whole grain cereals, and lentils.
  • Women concerned with osteoporosis should choose foods high in vitamin D to protect their joints, including fortified dairy products and fish.
  • Avoid processed foods whenever possible – they generally are high in sodium, which increases swelling.
  • Omega-3 fats have been shown to reduce inflammation and pain. Salmon, flax seed, and walnuts are great sources of this essential fatty acid.

How to Prevent and Reduce Knee Swelling

  • If you have knee swelling or soreness that lasts longer than 48 hours, or is accompanied by intense pain or a fever, then you should seek medical attention where a proper diagnosis can be made and any underlying conditions ruled out.
  • Avoid putting weight on the sore, swollen knee as much as possible until the swelling has gone down.
  • Use a cold compress. Wrap some crushed ice in a cloth and keep it on your knee for 20 minutes on to help reduce swelling. Repeat this every 2-4 hours, and when using the compress, be sure to keep your knee elevated using pillows.
  • If you suffer from arthritis in the knee, then it is important to keep up with stretching and toning exercises. These exercises can help to warm and stretch the muscles and are especially useful after long periods of rest.
  • Regular exercise to improve muscle tone and fitness can be very beneficial. Remember not to push yourself too hard if you are unfit. Choose a gentle exercise that won’t cause pain such as yoga or swimming.
  • If you are over-weight then now is a great time to consider losing weight naturally. Excess weight places extra pressure on all the joints and muscles, especially those in the knees and ankles.
  • Massage is a great alternative treatment to complement other treatments for knee swelling, as therapeutic touch helps release endorphins and other pain-relieving chemicals, plus supports healthy circulation to promote
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