The following will help the healthcare provider diagnose the swollen knee.
- Physical examination: The healthcare provider will examine the knee and ask about the history. The patient may have a blood test or fluid drawn from their knee for laboratory analysis, and the problem may also be diagnosed with imaging tests.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests can assist healthcare providers in locating the condition. Following imaging test includes:
- X-ray: In addition to identifying arthritis, an X-ray can rule out broken or dislocated bones.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): MRI can identify tendon, ligament, and other soft tissue lesions that aren’t apparent on X-rays by using radio waves and a strong magnetic field.
- Ultrasound: This examination uses sound waves to listen for conditions that can affect the tendons or ligaments.
- Joint aspiration (arthrocentesis): Fluid from inside the knee is removed using a needle. Then, the fluid is examined for the presence of blood that could result from wounds or bleeding problems, bacteria that could be causing an infection, or crystals that is typical to gout or pseudogout.
Treatment depends on the cause, severity, and medical history of the swollen knee.
- Non-surgical treatment:
- Home remedy: The patient can perform RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) for minor pain. Weight loss can also reduce pressure on the knees.
- Therapy: Physical therapy exercises can improve the knee’s strength and functionality, and a knee brace may be helpful in some cases.
- Medication: Swollen knee can lessen the knee pain by taking over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol, among others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, among others).
- Surgical treatment: A swollen knee’s underlying cause may need the following treatments:
- Arthrocentesis: This involves draining fluid from the knee joint to relieve pressure and reduce swelling. After removing part of the joint fluid, the healthcare provider may also inject a corticosteroid to reduce the inflammation.
- Arthroscopy. A small incision is made and an arthroscope, which is a lighted tube, is inserted into the knee joint. The arthroscope allows the doctor to remove any loose tissue or repair any damage within the knee. Physical therapy is typically recommended after the surgery to help the knee regain its strength and mobility.