If you've been experiencing pain and swelling in your knee, you're not alone. In fact, a swollen knee is actually quite common. There are many different causes of a swollen knee, ranging from overuse injuries to underlying diseases and conditions. To determine the cause of your swollen knee, your doctor might need to obtain a sample of the fluid that has built up in or around your joint. Fortunately, there are treatments available for both the symptoms and the underlying cause of a swollen knee.

Causes & Treatments

A swollen knee can be caused by a variety of ailments, ranging from traumatic injuries to illnesses and other conditions.

Injuries That Cause Knee Swelling

ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) Injury

An ACL injury is a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament, one of the ligaments that hold the knee together. This type of injury is often caused by a sudden twisting motion, such as when you change direction while playing sports. Symptoms of an ACL injury include pain, swelling, and difficulty walking.

Symptoms of ACL Injury

The most common symptoms of an ACL injury are pain, swelling, and difficulty walking. You may experience one of the following:

- Popping sounds when the knee injuries occurs

Severe Pain

- Rapid Swelling (typically behind the knee)

- Decrease Range of Motion

- No Stability: The knee feels like it buckles when putting weight on the injured leg

Non Surgical Treatment for ACL Injury

There are a few different treatment options for ACL injuries, depending on the severity of the injury. Treatment options may include the following:

Rest. This is important for the healing process. You may need to refrain from activities that put stress on your knee.

Ice. Apply ice to your knee regularly, especially in the first 24 to 48 hours after the injury occurred.

Compression. Wrapping an elastic bandage or compression wrap around your knee can help reduce swelling.

Elevation. Elevate your knee above heart level when resting to help reduce swelling.

Surgical Treatment for ACL Injury

Surgery. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace the ACL.The surgeon will remove the damaged anterior cruciate ligament and replace it with a segment of tendon - tissue that is similar to a ligament but connects muscle to bone. This replacement tissue is known as a graft. A graft may be taken from another portion of your knee or from a donor.


It takes a period of around nine to ten months for the graft transplant to incorporate and go through the process of ligamentization, which is forming a new ligament.

While some exceptional athletes may return to sports in six months, a more realistic scenario after an ACL injury is a rehabilitation period of at least eight to nine months. Tests can demonstrate if a reconstructed knee is as effective as the other knee and whether or not a certain sport's demands are suitable for it. The choice of doctors and physical therapists is usually final on whether or not an athlete is ready to compete safely.According to research, up to one-third of athletes suffer another ACL tear in the same or opposite knee within two years, implying that a rehabilitation period of 10 months or longer may be linked with a decreased risk of re-injury.

Cartilage (meniscus) Tear

A torn meniscus is one of the most common knee injuries. Any activity that causes you to forcefully twist or rotate your knee, especially when putting your full weight on it, can lead to a torn meniscus. Each of your knees has two C-shaped pieces of cartilage that act like a cushion between your shinbone and your thighbone. A torn meniscus causes pain, swelling and stiffness. If you've torn your meniscus, it might take 24 hours or more for pain and swelling to begin, especially if the tear is small.

Symptoms of Cartilage (Meniscus) Tear

The most common symptoms of a cartilage (meniscus) tear are:

Pain. Inside, outside or back of the knee

Swelling. Inside (medial), outside( lateral) or back of the knee

Stiffness. Knee feels locked or catchingLimpingLoss of range of motion

Limping. Favoring non injured leg because the pain of walking on the injured leg is too much 

Loss of Range of Motion. The knee cannot bend or move as it did before. Knee Extension & Flexion are limited 

Non Surgical Treatment for a Cartilage Tear

If you've been experiencing pain and swelling in your knee, you might have a cartilage tear. Cartilage tears can be caused by a variety of things, such as overuse injuries or underlying diseases and conditions. Treatment for a cartilage tear will depend on the size, location, and severity of your symptoms. For small cartilage tears causing minor symptoms, noninvasive and holistic treatments such as the RICE method – rest, ice, compression, and elevation – are first recommended. If the RICE method doesn't work to relieve the pain or the disabling condition of the injured joint, then your orthopedist may recommend physical therapy and changes to your lifestyle which may be exacerbating the injury.

Surgical Treatment for a Cartilage Tear

If you have a more severe cartilage tear that doesn't respond well to nonoperative treatments, surgery might be recommended. Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to treat knee problems. During arthroscopic surgery, an orthopedic surgeon inserts a small camera into your knee joint through a tiny incision. The camera displays images of the inside of your knee on a television screen, and these images guide the surgeon as he or she makes additional small incisions and inserts surgical instruments to repair the cartilage tear.


After surgery, you'll likely need to use crutches for a week or two. You'll also need to wear a knee brace and do physical therapy exercises to regain strength and range of motion in your knee. Most people who have arthroscopic surgery for a cartilage tear can return to their previous level of activity within three to six months.

Knee Overuse Injury

Overuse injuries of the knee result from microtrauma associated with physical activity and exercise that exceeds the tissue tolerance of the affected structure. Each of these repetitive forces is applied to muscles, tendons, cartilage, or bone with less intensity than the acute injury threshold.

Most knee overuse injuries are of multifactorial etiology involving extrinsic factors (training errors) or intrinsic factors (anatomical and biomechanical variations). Training errors include excessive intensity or rapid increase of workload. Anatomical and biomechanical variations, such as increased Q angle in women and a decrease in joint laxity with age, can also lead to overuse injuries.

Symptoms of Knee Overuse Injury

- Gradual Pain
- Pain during activity or work
- Slight swelling
- Redness
- Tender
- Hot when touching
- Morning or evening stiffness

Treatment for Overused Knees

Before you start an activity warm up properly with heat and compression to increase blood flow, decreasing stiffness in injury risk.

Noninvasive and at home treatments such as the RICE method – rest, ice, compression, and elevation – are usually recommended for mild or moderate overuse injuries.

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Diseases and conditions THAT CAUSE SWOLLEN KNEE'S


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, affecting millions of people in the United States. OA is a degenerative condition that wears away your cartilage—the cushioning between the three bones of your knee joint. Without that protection, your bones rub against each other, leading to pain, stiffness and limited movement. OA often gets worse over time.

Osteoarthritis Symptoms

The knee is the most common site of osteoarthritis pain. When you move your knee, or even when you sit still, it might hurt. The following are some additional symptoms: 

Your knee feels rigid (stiff), especially when you first get up or when you've been sitting for a long time.

Your knee looks inflamed or feels inflated.

When you move your knee, you hear a cracking or grinding sound.

Your knee feels flaccid and weak, as though it might give out or buckle.

The front of the knee may lock up or feel stuck.

Non Surgical Treatment

- Using ice & compression for pain management.
- Doing physical therapy.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Using a knee brace / compression sleeve
- Heat & Compression to combat stiffness
- Orthotic: insoles or special footwear
- Cortisone (steroid) injections

Surgical Treatment

- Cartilage grafting

- Knee Osteotomy

- Partial knee replacement

- Total knee replacement footwear

Recovery Time 

The recovery time for a hip replacement is typically between six weeks and three months, depending on the severity of the trauma. Muscles take longer to recover than other joints because they don't tend to heal as quickly. After around three months, most people are able to return to work and begin engaging in appropriate sports. Don't be disappointed if your healing takes longer than normal. It's dependent on a variety of factors, such as your age, muscle strength, general health, type of joint replacement chosen, and desire.

Because of the presence of blood vessels in this region, squatting, kneeling, and crossing your legs for an extended period of time is not suggested. Lifting and carrying heavy objects and making quick, powerful movements are also to be avoided. It's also necessary to avoid falls - for example by removing any potential tripping hazards in your house and wearing comfortable, flat shoes with anti-slip soles. However, many individuals have a decreased risk of falling after having a knee implant than they had previously. As a result, there's no need to be overly cautious

Post-Traumatic Arthritis

Post-traumatic arthritis is a type of osteoarthritis. The cartilage starts thinning after trauma to your knee (like an injury from a car crash or contact sport). Your bones rub together, and that causes the same symptoms as osteoarthritis: pain, stiffness and limited movement. Your knee arthritis symptoms might not start until years after the trauma.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the joints. This can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the affected joint. The inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis can also wear away your cartilage, leading to further pain and discomfort. Fortunately, there are treatments available for both the symptoms and the underlying cause of rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

- Pain or aching in more than one joint
- Stiffness in more than one joint
- Tenderness and swelling in more than one joint
- The same symptoms on both sides of the body (such as in both knees)
- Weight loss
- Fever
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Weakness

Non Surgical Treatment

There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, clinical trials indicate that symptom relief is more probable when treatment begins early with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

Your doctor may advise you to see a physical or occupational therapist who can teach you how to keep your joints flexible. The therapist may also recommend alternate methods for doing day-to-day activities that are less damaging to your joints. For instance, you could pick up an item using your forearms rather than your hands

Assistive technologies can help you avoid stressing your painful joints. A kitchen knife with a hand grip, for example, protects your finger and wrist joints. Certain equipment, such as buttonhooks, may make it easier to get ready. Look in catalogs and medical supply shops for inspiration.

Surgical Treatments

If medications fail to prevent or reduce joint deterioration, your doctor and you may consider surgery to repair damaged joints. Surgery can help you regain use of your joint. It also relieves discomfort and increases functionality. Rheumatoid arthritis surgery may involve one or more of the following procedures:

Synovectomy. If you have a lot of pain and limited flexibility in your joint, surgery may be an option to remove the inflamed lining of the joint (synovium). This should help reduce your pain and improve your flexibility.

Tendon repair. Tendons around your joint may loosen or rupture as a result of inflammation and damage. The surgeon may be able to restore the tendons near your joint.

Joint fusion. Surgically fusing a joint may be recommended to keep the joint stable and in its correct alignment, or if a joint replacement isn't an option. This surgical procedure can help relieve pain.

Total joint replacement. In a total knee replacement, your surgeon removes the damaged components of your joint and substitutes them with a prosthesis composed of metal and plastic


Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product that is normally excreted by the kidneys. When there is too much uric acid, it can form crystals in the joints, causing pain, inflammation, and redness.

 Gout Symptoms

Gout almost always develops suddenly and usually at night. Signs of Gout include:

Intense joint pain. Gout affects the big toe disproportionately, although it can affect any joint. Other joints that are frequently affected include the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, and fingers. The discomfort is likely to be most severe within the first four to 12 hours after it begins.

Lingering discomfort. Some joint discomfort can last for a few days to a few weeks after the most severe pain has passed. Later attacks are more likely to last longer and affect additional joints.

Inflammation and redness. Swelling, tenderness, warmth, and redness are all signs that inflammation has set in.

Limited range of motion. Gout can cause stiffness, pain, and swelling in your joints. As gout advances, you may find it increasingly difficult to move your limbs freely.


The type of medication you need depends on the frequency and severity of your symptoms, as well as any underlying health concerns

- R.I.C.E. Therapy

- Anti-Inflammatory Diet

- Cold Massage

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Pseudogout is a type of arthritis that is characterized by sudden, painful swelling in one or more of your joints. These episodes can last for days or weeks. The most commonly affected joint is the knee.

It isn't clear why crystals form in your joints and cause pseudogout, but the risk increases with age. Treatments can help relieve pain and inflammation, but there is no known cure for pseudogout. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of pseudogout, be sure to see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Knee Bursitis

Knee bursitis is a condition that affects the knee joint. It is characterized by inflammation of the bursa, which is a small fluid-filled sac that helps reduce friction and cushion pressure points between the bones and the tendons, muscles, and skin near the joint.

There are many different causes of knee bursitis, but it most commonly occurs as a result of overuse injuries or arthritis. Symptoms of knee bursitis include pain, swelling, and limited mobility. Treatment often includes a combination of self-care practices and doctor-administered treatments.

With early diagnosis and treatment, knee bursitis can often be managed effectively.

Knee bursitis is a condition that results in pain and swelling around the knee joint. The cause of the condition can vary, but it often occurs as a result of overuse or from an injury. Symptoms can include warmth, tenderness, and swelling around the knee joint, as well as pain when moving or at rest. Treatment for knee bursitis typically involves a combination of rest, ice, and medication to reduce inflammation. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the inflamed bursa. Prevention of knee bursitis usually involves taking steps to avoid overuse or injury to the knee joint.

Knee Bursitis Symptoms

Knee bursitis symptoms vary depending on which bursa is inflamed and what's causing the irritation. When you apply pressure to the affected region of your knee, it may feel warm, painful, and swollen. Moving or resting can be painful. A forceful strike to the knee might produce manifestations rapidly. Most cases of knee bursitis develop as a result of friction and irritation of the bursa located in occupations that require a lot of kneeling on hard surfaces - so they usually begin slowly and get worse over time.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Bursitis typically gets better with time, so treatment is usually geared towards symptom relief. However, depending on the origin of your knee bursitis and which bursa is affected, your doctor may advise one or more therapy tactics.

Medication- If an infection has caused the knee bursitis, your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotic treatment

Physical Therapy- Your doctor might refer you to a physical therapist or specialist in sports medicine, who can help you improve flexibility and strengthen muscles. This therapy might alleviate pain and reduce your risk of recurring episodes of knee bursitis. Protective knee braces might help if you can't avoid kneeling, and compressive knee sleeves can help reduce swelling.

Cold Compression Therapy- might help if you can't avoid kneeling, and compressive knee sleeves can help reduce swelling.

Surgical Treatment

Bracing and physical therapy are used for at home mild knee bursitis treatment. More-invasive therapies for treating knee bursitis include:

Corticosteroid injection - When the bursitis is not responding to basic therapy, your doctor may inject a corticosteroid medicine into an inflamed bursa to decrease inflammation. The inflammation usually goes away quickly, but you might experience discomfort and swelling for a few days as a result of the injection.

Aspiration - Your doctor might aspirate a bursa to reduce excess fluid and treat inflammation. He or she will insert a needle into the affected bursa and draw fluid into the syringe. Aspiration might cause short-term pain and swelling, and you might need to wear a knee immobilizer for a short period after the injection to reduce the chance of recurrent swelling.

Surgery - If you have severe chronic or recurrent bursitis and don't respond to other treatments, your doctor might recommend surgery to remove the bursa.

Baker's Cyst

A Baker's cyst, also called a popliteal cyst, is usually the result of a problem with your knee joint, such as arthritis or a cartilage tear. Both conditions can cause your knee to produce too much fluid, which can lead to a Baker's cyst. A Baker's cyst is a fluid-filled sac that causes a bulge and a feeling of tightness behind your knee. The pain can get worse when you fully flex or extend your knee or when you're active. Although a Baker's cyst may cause swelling and make you uncomfortable, treating the probable underlying problem usually provides relief.

Baker's Cyst Symptoms

Sometimes you'll experience no discomfort at all, or just a little discomfort from the Baker's cyst. You could only have knee pain from the initial damage that produced the Baker's cyst, but not the lumps itself. Any strain - whether it be physical, mental, or emotional - can cause this lump or your knee to swell in size. Swelling of the knee or cyst may boost your agony and limit how far you can bend your leg.

- A fluid-filled lump behind your knee
- Pain
- Stiffness of your knee
- Limited range of motion and ability to bend your knee
- Swelling of your knee and/or leg

Non Surgical Treatment 

Resting your leg whenever possible.

Applying ice to your knee.

Using compression wraps on your knee to decrease the amount of joint swelling.

Elevating your knee while you are resting

Surgical Treatment 

Cyst draining - A needle may be used to remove the fluid from the cyst.

Arthroscopic Procedure -often known as knee scoping, is a minimally invasive procedure during which your surgeon makes a small incision in your knee and uses an arthroscope (a flexible tool with a camera on the end) to view the inside of your knee. Knee surgery is different from other types of surgery because it allows surgeons to repair damaged joints rather than replace them. Knee replacement may be more expensive but also less invasive, according to some studies.

Knee Osteotomy -  Your surgeon cuts a portion of the bone in order to repair damage to your knee in this operation. For individuals with arthritis knee discomfort, this surgery may be an alternative.

Knee Infection

Knee injuries, surgical procedures, Staphylococcus infections, and other health concerns can all cause knee infections. The following are some of the most prevalent diseases linked to knee infections. Swelling of the knee joint is a common occurrence as a result of an infection or infestation.

Soft Tissue Infection

Staph bacteria are the most common cause of soft tissue infections, also known as cellulitis. These germs may live on your skin even when it is healthy, but they can enter your knee joint region through any open wound on your knee. In the United States, soft tissue infections affect more than 14 million people each year.

Knee Infection After Surgery

Knee replacement surgery is a popular operation that has few dangers for the vast majority of patients. An infection can occur around the artificial implant in less than 1% of joint replacement operations. Infection rates, on the other hand, are increasing as knee replacements become more common.

Artificial joints are made of metal and plastic, so they have no immune system to defend against harmful germs.Artificially created joints might get infected at the time of surgery or years afterward. Surgeries to repair damaged cartilage or tendons can spread germs to the knee joint. ACL injury, as well as meniscus injuries, are two common knee operations that may result in an infection.

Bacterial Joint Inflammation

is a serious infection that affects the knee joint. When bacteria contaminate the synovial fluid that lubricates your knee, an infection called septic arthritis can result. Septic arthritis often happens as a complication of surgery, inflammation, or for other reasons.

Infection Symptoms

- The pain is more severe than you expected, based on the size of the injury or ailment.

- A wound accompanied by a fever (higher than 100°F ) and a rapid heartbeat (usually more than 100 beats a minute)

-Pain that extends past the edge of the wound or visible infection

- Pain, warmth, skin redness, or swelling at a wound, especially if the redness is spreading rapidly

-Pain from a skin wound that also has signs of a more severe infection, such as chills and fever

-Grayish, smelly liquid draining from the wound




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