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How do I Treat Knee Inflammation?

By Erin Oxendine
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments

By migwar — On Jan 12, 2014

I played a soccer game a day two months ago. The second day I was suffering acute pain when trying to bend my knee, and it took me 10 days to realize that the knee wouldn't get better unless I saw the doctor. He prescribed a 125mg anti-inflammatory called Rofenac-D after an MRI, where he saw lot of fluid inside the knee and said that there are two ligament injuries inside the knee one in PCL but they are not major.

After two weeks, he repeated the same prescription, now and after two months, it is still the same. I can't bend it because I get horrible pain, and every time I try to bend it, I feel like I am re-injuring it. Do I have to use something to hold it fixed for like two weeks? Thanks in advance for any help.

By anon318108 — On Feb 05, 2013

My knee is swollen and very painful. The pain is going up and down my leg.

By anon202572 — On Aug 02, 2011

My mother has inflammation near her knee. How can I know what it is exactly and what is the treatment?

By anon151195 — On Feb 09, 2011

I had a total replacement five months ago and had problems right out of surgery. I have had to go into the hospital two months later to have it manipulated due to lack of range of motion. Now, I have either an infection or loosening. Wow, does it ever get better?

By FirstViolin — On Jan 01, 2011

Could you give me some more information about potential knee inflammation causes?

I have recently been experiencing some knee tendon inflammation, and am really at a loss as to what could be behind it.

I walk everyday for my health, and although I'm not an athlete or anything, I am pretty healthy. I mean, I'm not overweight, I eat healthily, and I don't smoke.

The swelling is very localized to the knee, so I don't think that it is a symptom of something else, but like I said, I'm really pretty much at a loss.

Could anyone give me some more information about what could be causing this?

Thank you.

By gregg1956 — On Dec 29, 2010

To my mind, there is nothing more painful and life-changing in terms of daily activities than an inflammation of the knee. You really don't think about how much of an impact that something like that can have on your life, and even though it's not a life threatening condition, it really does impact a lot of your daily life.

For example, I've started getting knee pain symptoms as I get older (as many people do), and it can be so frustrating not being able to climb stairs or use a ladder. Again, none of these things are life threatening, but it is annoying to be so constantly reminded of your age.

Of course, things are much better now than when I was growing up in terms of knee inflammation treatment. Apparently knee inflammation runs in our family, because both my dad and grandfather had the same symptoms that I am now having, and they had none of the medicines and painkillers that I can use.

So there's my two cents on the subject -- anybody else having the same problems with their knees as they get older?

By EarlyForest — On Dec 27, 2010

My best friend used to be a devoted ballerina -- not professional or anything, but she had just been doing it since she was really small, so it was a big part of her life -- and she ended up having serious knee pain and inflammation as she got older.

Although she had surgery on her knee and can walk fine and everything, she just couldn't do the dance thing anymore -- all of that to say, if you do start having an knee swelling and think that it could be an inflammation of the knee, then don't hesitate to get it checked out. You just never know when something like that can turn serious.

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