The knee joint consist of namely the femur (upper leg bone), tibia (lower leg bone), three bones, and patella (knee cap). Besides, there are muscles, tendons, cartilage, ligaments and fluid sacs. All these structural components help to provide stability and flexibility to this joint. This enables us to perform important activities like walking, running, jumping, bending and so on. When knee pain and swelling occurs together, then the joint becomes stiff and moving a stiffened joint is quite a painful experience. Knee pain accompanied by swelling is a common problem among middle aged and elderly people. Younger people who’re actively involved with sports activities are likewise prone to it.
Knee pain and swelling may occur due to many different reasons. Some of the cases of knee swelling are acute and get resolved in a few few days. Others are connected with the degeneration of the knee joint. This happens to become a chronic problem. Some of the common causes of painful swollen knee joint are as follows.
Knee Injury: The knees may get injured when affected by a hard object or, owing to a bad fall during sports activities. It may result in fractured bones or dislocation of the knee cap. Overstretching of the legs or sudden change in conducting the legs can cause injury to the soft tissues like muscles, ligaments or tendons in the area.
Of course, there are other things to consider when talking about physical exercises for arthritic knees…
Meniscus Tear:The medial meniscus is a bunch of tough cartilage tissue that lies in between the thigh bone and the shin bone. It functions like a shock absorber and distributes the body weight evenly on the whole knee joint. Tears develop on the cartilage tissue because of sudden twists of the knee joint. Besides, repetitive usage of the knee joint can stretch it excessively and it gets torn. Here, the pain and swelling is accompanied by bruise marks in the area.
Bursitis: Bursae are fluid filled sacs located at the knee joint that reduce friction and facilitate smooth movements of the joint. The bursae get inflamed due to repetitive use and the condition is known as bursitis. Any activities that require the resting of the body weight on the knee for quite a long time can lead to bursitis.
Physical exercises for arthritic knees
Arthritis: This is an inflammatory disease. These when affects the knee joint, causes pain and swelling in the area. There are various types of arthritis that may have an impact on the knees that include osteoarthritis, rheumatic arthritis, septic arthritis, gout, etc.
Other Knee Problems: Patellar tendinitis is a condition where the tendons that joins the muscles with the bones get inflamed. It is mostly found in runners, cyclists and skiers who need to bend the knees repeatedly. Baker’s cysts are fluid filled cysts that are formed in the rear of the knee and cause pain and swelling behind the knee.
Rest: When your knees are tender and swollen, then you cannot move around freely. Any abnormal movement like limping can aggravate the symptoms further. Thus to provide protection to the knee joint, you must rest your legs as much as possible. When you have to move, then use a cane or crutch to minimize pressure from the knee. Try to keep the knee area at an elevated position by placing a few extra cushions under the knees. This will decrease the swelling fast.
Ice Application:This is an effective treatment for both pain as well as swelling. Place an ice pack on the painful knee for 15-20 minutes. Repeat it 3-4 times a day. Do not apply heat in the area as it increases swelling.
Compression :Wrapping up the knee with an ACE bandage is another effective remedy that can reduce the swelling. Once the swelling goes down, it becomes easier for the body to heal the damage faster. However, while compressing the knee, make certain that you don’t wrap the bandage so tightly that it disrupts normal the blood circulation in the area.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey :If arthritis is the cause behind the knee pain and swelling, then you can then use these two ingredients to get relief from its symptoms. Take two teaspoons each of apple cider vinegar and honey and add them in a cup of water. Stir the mixture well and drink it. It should be taken three times in a day for best results.
Honey and Cinnamon :Prepare a thick paste by mixing up half teaspoon of finely grounded cinnamon powder into two tablespoons of honey. Apply this paste generously on the affected knee joint. While rubbing the paste, take care that you don’t put too much of pressure on the knee because it could hurt you. This will bring about a great deal of relief from the pain and inflammation.
When home remedies aren’t working on the pain and swelling, then it is time for a visit to the doctor. They will ascertain the cause with a physical examination, X-rays, MRI scan, etc., and start the treatment. The first priority is pain relief. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines are commonly used for this purpose. If the pain is intolerable and it lasts for several months, then corticosteroid injections are given for a temporary relief from the pain.
Knee braces are recommended for some patients as it provides adequate support and protection to the weakened knee. Splinters should be used in order to set a fractured knee bone. Physical therapy is strongly recommended for those patients who’ve tears in the muscles and ligaments of the knee. It restores strength and responsiveness of the knee joint. In worst cases, where many months of non-surgical methods of treatment fail to achieve any improvement in the condition of the knee, doctors may opt for surgery. Surgical option is availed only in those cases where the knees are in a badly damaged condition.
Some of the cases of knee pain and swelling can be readily prevented. Those who’re overweight must lose some weight to minimize the load on the knees, for instance. Knee strengthening exercise can keep the joint strong and flexible and thus reduce the risk of injury. Arthritis patients should do low impact exercises like swimming and water aerobics that can strengthen the knee without putting any extra pressure on them. Athletes must do proper warm up exercises before starting any physically strenuous activities.