The knee is the biggest hinged joint in the body and knee problems are common. A 2006 Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey revealed that 30 percent of adults reported pain in the previous 30 days, with 18 percent suffering knee pain and tightness. Fluid in the knee, or effusion, can be caused by trauma, an overuse injury, or disease.
Steps for Reducing Fluid in the Knee
Stop any activity that may have caused the knee to swell, like running, jumping or twisting. Terminate action that makes your knee swell or hurt. You might have to avoid driving if it causes discomfort to run the brake or gas pedals.
Rest with the leg elevated to reduce swelling naturally. This allows fluid to drain away, and reduces pressure on the joint. Don’t walk or put weight on the knee unnecessarily until the pain and fluid have gone away.
Use a cold pack to reduce pain and reduce fluid accumulation. You can use a wash cloth taken in cold water, or an industrial cold pack kept in the freezer. Do not use ice or freezer loads directly on the skin; instead, wrap the frozen item in a towel and cover it around the knee. Apply this cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes every two to four hours as needed for pain.
Wrap the leg with an elastic bandage. This must reduce build-up of fluid on the knee. Do not wrap the knee so securely that it cuts off circulation; get rid of the bandage if numbness or tingling in the foot happens, or if the foot feels warm.
Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or naproxen to decrease or prevent inflammation, MayoClinic.com recommends. Trademark name medications that include NSAIDs can include Advil, Motrin or Aleve. Take them with food to prevent stomach inflammation. A painkiller, such as acetaminophen or Tylenol, can likewise be used to relieve pain, but will not reduce the inflammation in the knee.
See a doctor if the fluid does not go down in a few days, or if the cause of fluid in the knee can not be identified. A doctor may choose to aspirate fluid by inserting a needle into the knee and drawing the fluid into a syringe. She will send the fluid to the laboratory, where it will be evaluated to discover the cause of the fluid accumulation. Antibiotics might be prescribed, in addition to medications like corticosteroids to reduce swelling.
Seek medical attention if pain continues, or other symptoms like fever develop as these could be signs of issue such as infection.
Keep physical therapy visits as directed by your doctor. Physical therapy might help reduce inflammation as well as take care of the underlying cause of fluid on the knee. Therapy will also enhance the muscles around the knee, offering this essential joint more power and stability.
If pain or swelling persists, see your doctor to avoid the injury from ending up being a chronic condition.
Wear knee pads while playing sports or operating in the garden to prevent injuries.
Things You’ll Need
- Ice bag
- Elastic plaster