We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What can I do About Knee Swelling?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Knee swelling that results from an acute injury or a chronic joint problem can be difficult to manage. A tender, swollen, stiff knee makes even mundane physical activities uncomfortable or impossible. There are many things a person can do about knee swelling at home to quickly relieve symptoms and rebuild strength in the joint. Most medical professionals recommend following the RICE acronym, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If knee swelling is severe or problems persist despite home treatment, an individual should visit a doctor to be evaluated.

Resting and icing the joint are usually the most effective things a person can do about knee swelling. It may not be possible to avoid all physical activity, but resting the knee often and taking it slow and easy when walking gives the joint time to heal. Applying an ice pack several times a day can relieve swelling and help to numb the underlying pain. Doctors typically advise patients to wrap ice in a washcloth or plastic bag instead of applying it directly to skin to avoid further irritation.

Following an injury, compression can help to prevent swelling from getting worse. Elastic bandages and wraps specifically designed to compress swollen joints can be found at most pharmacies and supermarkets. When wrapping the knee, a person should be careful not to pull the bandage too tight. If blood flow is entirely cut off, throbbing pain and swelling can actually worsen. The last step in RICE, elevation, relies on the principle of gravity to improve blood flow. By using pillows or a reclining bed to keep the knee higher than the heart, blood and fluids can drain from the knee and swelling goes down.

By following RICE protocol, most mild knee injuries start feeling better in two or three days. If symptoms persist for more than a week, it is important to talk to a doctor to learn what else to do about knee swelling. After a careful examination, a physician might suggest a prescription or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. If knee pain is severe, he or she can inject a corticosteroid directly into the joint tissue to provide immediate relief. The doctor can also provide special instruction on what to do for your knee swelling in the future.

Immediate, severe knee pain following an injury needs to be assessed at the emergency room. A doctor can take x-rays and other diagnostic imaging tests to gauge the severity of damage and determine what to do about knee swelling. He or she may provide medications, suggest variants on RICE, and schedule physical therapy sessions. Surgery may be needed if ligaments are torn or the kneecap is dislodged.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon1006834 — On May 26, 2022

I had a running injury 15years ago and I'm74! Yes it hurts like hell! Still no relief after 10 days! What now so I can walk my dog again?

By burcinc — On Sep 25, 2014

First aid measures should definitely be taken if the knee is swollen due to injury. I had it happen to me once when I ripped a tendon. I had never seen my ankle and foot so large before.

But for edema and frequent swelling, anti-inflammatory foods such as fish and fish oil can be very helpful.

By discographer — On Sep 25, 2014

@bear78-- I think most sources do recommend cold therapy. That's the I in RICE, as in ice. But any cold pack will do.

I think that some knee problems such as arthritis may actually benefit from warmth. But if the swelling is caused by an injury and is not arthritis, then heat will actually make it worse. Cold reduces inflammation and swelling.

If you suffer from arthritis or osteoarthritis, you may want to try both cold and hot therapy on your knee to see which feels better. Use whatever reduces the swelling and the pain the most.

By bear78 — On Sep 24, 2014

Some sources say to use heat therapy for knee swelling. And yet others recommend alternating cold therapy and heat therapy. Here, cold therapy is recommended. Which is true or best for knee swelling?

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.