Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!

VERIFIED CONTENTAuthor: Katarzyna Wieczorek-Szukała, MD, PhD, medical biotechnologist, Medical University of Lodz

Water in the knee is a painful ailment. The increased presence of synovial fluid in the knee is most often associated with a sports injury. Although too much physical activity can actually cause a build-up of water in the knee joint, it is not the only cause of this ailment. Where does the water in the knee come from and how to deal with it? Is it dangerous to he alth?

Why is the knee joint vulnerable to injuries?

Our knees carry the greatest load of all joints in the human body in relation to their surface. Specialists in the biomechanics of movement indicate that during squats, intense running or, for example, playing tennis, the forces acting on the knee can exceed the weight of the exercising person even several times!

Movement of the knee joint causes many structures to move simultaneously. These are mainly:

  • muscles,
  • ligaments,
  • menisci,
  • patella.

Every day, all these elements are in balance with each other. The destabilization of any of them may lead to a violation of the integrity of the joint and the formation of an injury.

Like any other joint, the knee joint is also surrounded by joint membranes, and its work is cushioned by the synovial fluid, consisting mainly of plasma, hyaluronic acid and lubricin.

The knee joint, due to its complicated structure and everyday use, is particularly exposed to various types of injuries and overload. Most of all, physically active people know this. Knee injuries concern especially athletes who practice dynamic sports, during which very strong overloads are generated. This applies especially to:

  • footballers,
  • runners,
  • cyclists,
  • skiers,
  • martial arts athletes,
  • athletes.

Stress in the knee joints is relatively common also in overweight people. The extra kilos are ballast, which unnecessarily loads the already heavily used knee joints. In the case of obese people, the knees are overstrained even duringordinary activities such as climbing stairs or sitting down and standing up, so in their situation the problem becomes even more pressing.

In both athletes and overweight people, overloading the knee joints may result in the appearance of water in the knee.

Water in the knee as a symptom of the disease

Swelling of the knee joints does not always have to be traumatic or overload. It is also one of the common symptoms of many diseases, including:

  • gout (formerly known as gout) - is the deposition of uric acid in the joints,
  • osteitis - manifested as persistent inflammation of the periosteum,
  • Baker's cyst - manifested as an enlarged space in the popliteal fossa that fills up with excessively secreted synovial fluid.

Water in the knee, slightly less frequently, may also be a symptom of a tumor in the joint or an autoimmune disease - rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Persistent tissue irritation may turn into bursitis or inflammation of the synovial membrane.

Orthopedists also point out that degenerative changes in the locomotor system that build up over the years can also lead to regular accumulation of water in the joints. It is also a problem for many patients who have undergone joint surgery (now largely carried out by arthroscopic method).

How to recognize water in the knee?

Since we know that water in the knee can appear in connection with many physiological conditions, it is necessary to understand well what it really is. From a physiological point of view, this condition consists in the increased presence of synovial fluid in the joint capsule. It is produced by the so-called synovium. Typically, exudate is a sign of local inflammation.

The water in the knee is most easily recognized by palpation. Touching the knee area is accompanied by unfocused pain, and the tissue appears swollen, soft and red at first glance. If the condition worsens, the soreness may be irrespective of touch, including normal movement such as walking and squatting, and even sitting.

Persistent joint swelling, most visible on the front of the knee, makes it difficult to bend the leg, which appears stiff in this area. Many patients also complain about the feeling of instability in the joint that "runs away". This is due to the irritation of the inside of the joint structures, including muscles and ligaments that are unable to bear the current load. Therefore, the joint feels loose and actually becomes moreprone to injuries.

It is worth emphasizing that the water in the knee may or may not be related to the mechanical damage to the structures of the locomotor apparatus. If there is a bruise of a joint or muscle, the skin may bruise as a result of internal damage to small blood vessels and hemorrhage, which will subside over time.

However, if the swelling is accompanied by severe pain, consult an orthopedist immediately. In such a situation, damage to the articular capsule cannot be ruled out.

How do I get rid of the water in my knee?

If, after performing a complete set of diagnostic tests, including X-ray, ultrasound and MRI, the doctor has determined that the connective tissue has not been permanently damaged as a result of the injury or overload, there is usually no cause for concern.

If the injury was not serious and tissue irritation subsides quickly, a small amount of synovial fluid may be reabsorbed by itself. The problem arises in the case of persistent inflammation, because then it is usually necessary to puncture the joint. It is a procedure involving the mechanical removal of excess synovial fluid, performed under local anesthesia.

If you suffer from blood coagulation disorders and are taking specialized medications, be sure to inform your doctor about this fact before the procedure. Low coagulation is a contraindication to puncture!

Medics recommend the immediate use of NSAIDs to reduce pain and swelling. Usually, this treatment goes hand in hand with the application of warming ointments.

Popular preparations available in pharmacies contain the following active ingredients:

  • salicylic acid - has a strong anti-inflammatory effect,
  • camphor - helps to reduce pain by weakening the sensitivity of nerve endings,
  • turpentine - when applied to the skin, it increases the blood supply to the area and reduces pain,
  • eucalyptus oil - reduces swelling and stimulates tissue regeneration,
  • diclofenac - a universal NSAID with comprehensive anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and analgesic properties.

Remember to always follow the guidelines on the leaflet. Even excess ointments can irritate the skin.

In severe chronic diseases, depending on their etiology, glucocorticoid therapy is also used, similar to those used in rheumatological diseases.

Substances such as Prednisone or Methylprednisolone (in the form of succinate and acetate) are mainly usedall to relieve the symptoms of RA and other rheumatic diseases. These are very strong substances with a shock effect, the use of which should be strictly consulted with a doctor, because they have many side effects.

Home remedies for water in the knee

If the water in your knee does not accumulate much and you do not feel that your he alth condition is deteriorating drastically, you can try introducing home treatments.

First of all, use the elevation method in your free time. It consists in lifting the injured limb above the hip line and holding it under pressure. Thanks to this, the tissues can rest and the body fluids drain from the leg. Another way is to use compresses made of ice packs. It is good to apply this type of wraps for 10-15 minutes several times a day.

Finally, in the case of rapidly increasing swelling, you can put on a tourniquet to help the swelling come off faster.

An underappreciated method used for decades is applying compresses made of broken and chilled cabbage leaves. Wrap them around the place where the injury occurred, then wrap them with foil and a bandage and leave them overnight. The juice contained in the leaves contains highly anti-inflammatory chemicals such as anthocyanins and L-glutamine.

Remember that no home therapy can replace consulting a doctor. If in doubt as to the origin of the injury, be sure to visit a clinic for advice.

Can you train with water in your knee?

If the knee is already inflamed, further straining the joint will usually be counterproductive. Therefore, it is recommended to regenerate through rest. After consulting a specialist, it can be supplemented with:

  • massages,
  • hydrotherapy,
  • movement exercises assisted by a physiotherapist,
  • physical therapy (e.g. cryotherapy, TENS currents, magnetic field).

In the case of obese people, it may be necessary to change eating habits and gradually reduce body weight.

Only with very light bruises, gentle effort can make the increased blood flow cause the joint to recover faster. In such a situation, static exercises will be much better than dynamic ones. It is also worth adding that even minimal movement helps to maintain the efficiency of the circulatory system and prevents the formation of microclots (this especially applies to people who suffer from diseases of the heart muscle).

The recovery period depends on the degree of soreness, swelling and the intensity of the injury. Usually he hesitatesfrom a few days to several weeks. During this time, sudden efforts such as running, jumping and even fast cycling should be avoided, as they may delay your return to full fitness.

Do you do sports? This way you can prevent water build-up in your knee!

If you live an active life on a daily basis, and still have to deal with water in your knee, think about whether you precede your training with a properly constructed warm-up.

Remember that the heavier the planned exercise unit, the longer the warm-up should be and the more carefully you should prepare your joints for the challenges ahead. Contrary to popular belief, warming up in sports is about much more than just increasing your heart rate. It is also aimed at initial adaptation of the locomotor apparatus to exercise by stimulating the joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles, as well as stimulating the secretion of joint fluid. As a result, the joints work smoother and are less prone to injuries, and the joint capsules become more flexible.

Unfortunately, skipping the knees during the warm-up is a common mistake made by many runners or footballers. It results from excessive focus on the hips, shoulders and elbows, which are much easier to prepare for exercise through swinging and circulating.

If your knee is swollen, don't underestimate this problem! Even a minor injury, if not treated properly, can lead to injury. Taking appropriate actions will allow you to reduce the recovery time as much as possible.

Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!