There are certain things you need to know about fluid on the knee. A fluid is present in the knee to make the joints move easily. Each mobile joint of the body has a fluid, but the quantity of the fluid is very low. The same is within the knees the fluid protects the cartilages of the joints and ensures there nourished and protected, but when the fluid increases in quantity, there will be swelling in the joint affected. This fluid is known as synovial fluid. There is a lining of the knee joint capsule protecting the knee joint and producing the synovial fluid.
Fluid on the knee, also known as water on the knee or knee effusion, means the buildup of excessive fluid around the knee joint, which could have been caused by different health conditions like, overuse injuries, infection, diseases and traumatic injuries. Fluid on the knee can cause pain, stiffness and swelling, making it difficult for you to take part in daily activities.
When suffering from water on the knee, the inflammation makes protective fluid rush to the joint, and this makes you experience swelling in the area. In most cases, mild swelling can be treated at home using different home remedies. A lot of money can be saved through this procedure, but the more severe definitely needs the attention of a medical professional. Using the knee repetitively, like scrubbing floors or playing with your kids, may make create swelling, which allows excess fluid to be collected in the bursae of the knee.
Causes of Fluid on the Knee
- There can be the accumulation of fluid on the knee through rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. There can be extra production of synovial fluid in the knee through arthritis.
- Infection in the knee joint; the fluid on the knee is pus, and not synovial fluid.
- There can be the accumulation of fluid on the knee after an accident. In most cases, the fluid is blood which can be through a fracture caused to the knee. The swelling of the knee often takes place within some minutes of the injury occurring.
- Gout and pseudo-gout can also cause fluid on the knee. Uric acid crystals can accumulate in the knee through gout, leading to the knee joint’s inflammation and swelling, while there also could be the formation of calcium crystals in the knee through pseudo-gout.
- Swelling – Swelling is the most common symptom of fluid on the knee because the area affected is usually larger than the second knee, and the sufferer can experience increased puffiness around the bony areas of the knee affected.
- Pain – Pain, mild or severe, will always be experienced with fluid on the knee. If the person is suffering from osteoarthritis, he or she will experience pain when bearing weight on the knee.
- Stiffness – The joint will always be stiff when there is fluid on the knee. This will make it difficult to completely or slightly bend or straighten the joint.
- Bruising – Bruising is a common symptom with the fluid on the knee caused by trauma. The bruising can be noticed easily, and can take place on the side, rear or the front of the knee.
Diagnosis of the problem
Various tests and examinations are needed in the diagnosis of fluid on the knee. In most cases, joint aspiration will be carried out on the swollen knee, which involves the withdrawal of the accumulated fluid inside the knee, after which a check will be conducted to check if there are bacteria, blood and crystals. The diagnostic tests that may also be carried out are magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), X-ray and blood tests to check if the person is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, infection, bleeding disorder or gout.
Treating the problem
The treatment method when your knee has fluid on it depends on how the fluid built up around or in the knee joint. These are some of the methods that may be considered:
- Rest – The pain experienced in the knee will reduce with adequate rest, especially if fluid on the knee was caused by a traumatic injury.
- Elevated Position – This method works for people with fluid on the knee. Keep the leg in an elevated position, and apply an ice pack on it from time to time. You can have good results by continuously using ice pack for about 15 minutes many times a day.
- NSAID – NSAID, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, combined with colchicine and corticosteroid injections may be required for fluid on the knee caused by pseudo gout or gout, while severe inflammation and a large build-up of fluid may require aspiration of the knee joint, while corticosteroid injections will follow.
- Arthroscopic Knee Surgery – Sometimes, this is a treatment option that may be carried out for the symptoms of the fluid on the knee.
- Knee Replacement – This is usually considered as the last resort, meaning that it is only used when other treatment options have failed. Knee replacement will be carried out if you can no longer tolerate the pain and bearing weight or standing on the knee affected is impossible.
You should always follow the directions of your doctor if you have fluid on the knee. The degree of the problem will determine whether or not you will have your normal lifestyle again. At the same time, the treatment options could involve a complete change in your lifestyle for weeks, months or even years.