Swollen knee

Swollen knee

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A swollen knee can be caused by an infection. However, acute swellings usually result from trauma, for example from a fall. Non-inflammatory knee swellings usually begin slowly and the joints usually change due to internal damage. The causes here are osteoarthritis and gonarthrosis, hip diseases, gout, hemophilia or sciatica. Inflammation, on the other hand, shows itself as an acute gout attack, rheumatoid or bacterial arthritis.

Diarrheal diseases or infections of the genital organs sometimes lead to a swollen knee as a side effect. The advantage of acute injuries is that the person affected knows the reason for the swollen knee. However, if infections form in the vicinity of the knee, if there is an unknown rheumatic disease or even an internal injury, the doctor first gropes in the dark.


If the knee is distorted or bruised, it swells. Typical injuries occur in bicycle accidents, such as blows with a hammer, or in sports such as handball, soccer and rugby. Then a bump forms.

But not only injuries cause the knee to swell during exercise, the knee can also be overloaded. If the knee is overstressed by unusual movements, the bursa becomes inflamed and swells.

Fractures, surgery, infections or rheumatism are some of the many causes of a big knee. A big knee hurts and it restricts the movements.

Fractures, bruises and tendon tears cause the knee to swell, as do tensions and overextensions. The injury itself irritates the tissue.

The reasons

Osteoarthritis is a disease of a joint. If it affects the knee joint, the tissue there shrinks. The knee joint loses its buffer zone and movements cause knee pain.

Arthritis is a collective term for various infections, which are also shown by swelling. Bacteria infect the knee joint and the knee swells. Fever often accompanies it.

Inflamed bursa on the knee are particularly painful. The bursa usually protect the knee from pressure and friction. If they don't work, all of the tissue around the knee is chronically irritated. In addition to swelling, this inflammation also leads to fever.


If you injure your knee, you should clean the wound immediately, otherwise it may fester. If a fracture or break is suspected, a doctor should be consulted immediately.

Cold wraps relieve swelling, because the cold soothes the tissue. Such treatment should last three to four times a day for about 20 minutes.

Splints and bandages prevent the damaged knee tissue from being further irritated.

However, joint diseases such as arthrosis or rheumatism are not suitable for self-treatment. A doctor has to design the necessary therapy here. Relieving the symptom, i.e. the swelling, is of no use, but the root cause of the disease must be combated. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


  • Martin Rudwaleit et al .: "The development of Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society classification criteria for axial spondyloarthritis (part II): validation and final selection", in: Annals of the Rheumaic Diseases, Volume 68 Issue 6, 2009, BMJ Journals
  • William Boericke, Handbook of the homeopathic materia medica: source-oriented new translation, Georg Thieme Verlag, 2004
  • Erika Mendoza, guide to varicose veins, leg swelling and thrombosis, Springer, 2016
  • Wolfgang Franz; Robert Schäfer: Knee Osteoarthritis: Prevention - Treatment - Healing, Herbig, 2008
  • Rainer Brenke et al .: Naturopathic treatment: guidelines for medical training, further education, Schattauer, 2007
  • Berndt Rieger: Joint diseases: arthrosis, arthritis, gout, rheumatism, Herbig, 2016

Video: How do I know if my knees are swollen (January 2023).