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People who suffer from knee inflammation can have debilitating pain that interferes with daily activities. Inflammation in the knee occurs when fluid builds up under the kneecap and joints causing swelling and discomfort. This often results from an injury to the knee, bursitis or some type of degenerative disease. Individuals have several different options when considering how to treat inflammation of the knee.
The best way to decrease swelling and inflammation is to rest the knee. Doctors suggest that patients with knee problems immediately stop all activities that put pressure on the knee and keep the leg elevated. Patients can resume normal activities once released from a doctor’s care. Most people notice improvement in pain and tenderness after a few days of rest.
Patients can also have their knee wrapped with a bandage or protective brace to stabilize the knee and possibly prevent further damage. A physician or sports trainer can recommend a type of brace depending on the type of injury that caused the inflammation. Some people may also need crutches to go along with the brace.
Another form of treatment for knee inflammation involves anti-inflammatory pills and pain tablets. An anti-inflammatory medication is prescribed to treat symptoms such as swelling and pain. These are over the counter pills such as aspirin and ibuprofen. When pain is not relieved with this kind of medication, doctors can prescribe narcotics. Narcotics can cause drowsiness and dizziness, however, and patients may not take these when working or driving because of the side effects.
In addition to medication, most individuals who have inflammation in the knee participate in physical therapy. Orthopedists prescribe physical therapy exercises to try to stretch and flex the knee. This prevents stiffness and increases range of motion, both of which reduce fluid build up in the knee. Exercising also lubricates the knee joints, which helps the knee to move better and get stronger.
Doctors can also give steroid shots in the knee for the conditions that cause inflammation such as arthritis. Steroid shots are actually corticosteroid injections, which can relieve pain for several weeks or even months. While this is a temporary solution, in the meantime the patient can work on physical therapy and getting rid of the condition that caused the inflammation.
If all else fails and the patient continues to have chronic pain and knee inflammation, the doctor may recommend knee surgery. Common orthopedic procedures in this situation are knee arthroscopies and total knee replacement surgery. During a knee arthroscopy, the orthopedist examines the knee and repairs damaged joints and cartilage. When a doctor performs the total knee replacement, the knee is replaced with an artificial joint and kneecap.