What can I do About Knee Swelling and Pain?

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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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Taking an anti-inflammatory medication for knee swelling and pain can dramatically improve this condition. These medications can be purchased over the counter, or can be prescribed by a physician. In addition, knee swelling and pain might respond to the application of ice, and elevation of the leg. In addition, common causes of knee swelling and pain include knee contusion, or bruise, torn cartilage, and arthritis.

It is important that a correct diagnosis be made before a treatment plan is put into place. If anti-inflammatory medications and ice packs fail to yield results, the physician needs to be notified so he can further determine the cause. The doctor might recommend x-rays and may even aspirate the knee joint to determine if there is fluid present. Sometimes, knee injuries promote fluid development. In these cases, periodic draining of the fluid might be necessary to relieve knee swelling and pain.

Another cause of knee swelling and pain is gout. Although gout typically develops in smaller joints such as those in the great toe and elbow, other, large joints such as the knee can be afflicted. To diagnose gout, the physician needs to order a uric acid blood test. Generally, when high elevations of uric acid are found in the blood, gout is present. Symptoms of gout can mimic those of arthritis, such as joint pain, swelling, and redness. In addition, limited mobility and limited range of motion can also occur.


Resting the leg is usually recommended to reduce knee swelling and pain. Standing for long periods and putting pressure on the knee can worsen swelling and increase pain. Although a heating pad may provide soothing relief of knee pain, the use of one is discouraged because heat can promote swelling and further increase pain. When knee problems become chronic, walking with the help of a cane can sometimes reduce knee swelling and pain by bearing some of the weight of the leg.

In rare instances, when conservative methods of pain relief are unsuccessful at relieving knee swelling and pain, surgery might be warranted. The type of surgery for knee pain and swelling depends on what is causing the condition. If symptoms are cartilage related, surgery to remove the offending cartilage might be in order. If bone spurs are present, removing them will alleviate symptoms as well. If the knee cap is fractured due to injury, surgically repairing it may be the only option to get relief. A thorough surgical consultation can provide options for the patient, so he and his doctor can determine which treatment is appropriate.


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Post 4

I was running and I slipped and slammed my knee in to the corner of a brick wall. No bruising occurred; it was just pink and a little swollen. The strange thing is I can do a lot of activity with no pain. But when I gently rub my knee with one finger, I can feel a parallel sensation on the opposite side of the knee. What does this mean?

Post 3

There is an over-the-counter topical cream with menthol in it that's excellent for knee swelling and pain. It cools the area and numbs it.

It's one of the few topical creams that give me relief from arthritis knee pain and arthritis related swelling in my joints.

Post 2

@turkay1-- I recommend doing the RICE treatment (rest, ice, compression, elevation).

You might not think that you have an injury but the knee joint can become irritated and inflamed over time. It has happened to me several times in the past, I developed knee swelling and stiffness from cycling too much.

Have you been bending your knees a lot lately or have you been doing knee exercises? These can be the cause.

It's good that you're taking an anti-inflammatory medication. Ice will help too. Keep an ice pack with a thin towel between the ice and your skin throughout the day. I suggest staying off your feet and extending that leg slightly elevated if possible.


there is a more serious underlying cause, I think the swelling and pain will cease after a few days of rest. If not, you should see your doctor. It's also important to determine the type of activity triggering this. If you overdo that activity in the future, the swelling will return.
Post 1

The back of my left knee became swollen suddenly yesterday. I don't think I injured myself. I took an anti-inflammatory medication. It lessened the pain, but the swelling is still there.

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