HomeOrtho CareKnee Swelling: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments & Prevention

Knee Swelling: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments & Prevention

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A swollen knee occurs when your knees are affected by an injury or disorder. Swollen knee is the accumulation of excessive fluid in and around your knee joints. Swelling can be a sign of inflammation in the knee joints.

What Leads to Swelling in the Knees?

Various issues can lead to swelling in your knees, including injuries and medical conditions. It usually develops immediately after an injury. A swollen knee can be a symptom of an underlying knee joint disorder, such as arthritis. A swollen knee usually develops when excess fluid buildup occurs in the knee joint capsule as a result of bleeding in joints or the accumulation of the synovial fluid.

Symptoms of Swollen Knee

The symptoms of a swollen knee are swelling in and around the knee cap, stiffness of the knee, redness, and pain. The swelling in the knees causes severe pain, difficulty while walking, and an inability to bear weight. Damage to the knees can cause the affected area to become larger, puffier, and reddish in appearance. The key signs of inflammation in the knees are pain, swelling, redness, heat, and partial or complete loss of the function of the knees.

Causes of Swollen Knee

Many causes, including diseases, injuries, and trauma, may lead to swelling in your knees.

  • Injury: An injury may cause damage to any segment of the knee joint, including cartilage, ligament, and bones, and cause the joint fluid to accumulate. Acute injuries may occur as a result of certain exercises, sports activities, and accidents. They may cause blunt force trauma to the knee and cause swelling. Knee injuries may cause tearing of cartilage, tendinitis due to overuse of tendons, and sprains due to a sudden twist, turn or hit to the muscles.
  • Illness: Underlying medical illnesses that can lead to swelling in the knees are osteoarthritis, bursitis, gout, tumour, rheumatoid arthritis, infection, and cysts. The rare causes of swollen knees include the dislocation of knee caps, tumours, and deep vein thrombosis.

Risk Factors

  • The probability of developing a disease that causes swelling in the knees increases with increasing age. The risk of osteoarthritis also increases in women with age.
  • If you are participating in sports that result in the twisting of knees, you are more likely to experience knee injuries.
  • Obesity may lead to degeneration of the knees and adds stress to the knee joint.
  • A poor alignment, weakness in the hips, and imbalance can also contribute to the risk of swelling and pain in the knees.

When to See a Doctor?

Contact your doctor if you have noticeable swelling and severe pain in your knees or you cannot bear weight on your knees and are unable to fully extend or flex your knees. Request an appointment at Apollo Hospitals to seek treatment immediately. It is essential to seek professional care if you additionally have a fever, swelling, pus, or a deep wound. Your doctor will conduct a physical examination of your knee joint. Additionally, he may use other imaging techniques, such as an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan to assess the degree of damage.



Swelling and pain in the knees can be common for acute injuries. Some diseases, such as arthritis and gout, can lead to the pain worsening and subsequently causing joint damage if left untreated. It can lead to muscle loss, weakness, and atrophy. The accumulation of fluid in your knees can cause Baker’s cyst in the knees .


The prevention strategies listed below may help you avoid injuries to your knees and reduce damage to your joints.

Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the additional strain on your knee joints.

When participating in sports or physical activities, make sure you warm-up, take things slowly and acquire flexibility. Weak muscles can cause knee injuries. Training for stability and balance can help the muscles around the knees grow stronger.


The treatment plan for swollen knees includes :

  • Surgical options include :
  • Arthrocentesis. Removing fluid from the knee can help relieve pressure on the joint. After removing some of the joint fluid, your doctor might inject a corticosteroid into the joint to treat inflammation.
  • Arthroscopy. A lighted tube (arthroscope) is inserted through a small incision into your knee joint. Tools attached to the arthroscope can remove loose tissue or repair damage in your knee.
  • Medications for pain relief are drugs of the first choice to ease acute pain. ( Do not overuse or self medicate with painkillers as it has serious side-effects if used long term. Always consult doctor if possible to find the underlying cause and take the appropriate treatment)
  • Lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, can help restore normal knee function.
  • Other treatment alternatives for severe knee damage are occupational therapy and the use of assistive devices.
  • Home remedies, such as the use of compression, ice packs, and massages, can help reduce mild to moderate knee swelling at home.
  • Elevating the affected leg is also recommended to ease the pain.


Swelling in the knees can occur with or without injury. The complex structure and repeated use of knees can make them vulnerable to injuries. Individuals with the underlying disease should seek treatment in the form of medications and physical therapy. Prevention is the key to avoid the degeneration of knee joints. Recovery from swollen knees can begin by resting your knee and ensuring self-care. It is advisable to seek professional care for swelling in the knees.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is my knee swollen several hours after an injury?

Delayed swelling occurs due to certain injuries because of the damage to the knee joint’s tissues. The trauma due to an injury can cause the joint fluid to accumulate and cause swelling.

Why do my knees swell when I run?

Running causes repeated trauma to the knee joints. Inappropriate physical activity may cause stress on the knee joint and cause swelling.

How to recognize the signs of swelling in the knees?

Monitor the pain in your knee joint. See your doctor if your knees feel warm to the touch and become red and when movements cause pain.

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