Swelling Behind Knee – What Could it Be?

Swelling behind knee is often cause for concern as it may well be something serious which needs further investigation to determine what caused the swelling to occur. Swelling behind the knee or a swollen knee is a very common issue to have and is often called “water on the knee”.

Swelling can be sever or very slight, with chronic cases causing difficulty walking and proving to be very painful, in particular pain behind the knee can be sever..

What causes Swelling behind the knee is often a mystery to the sufferer and can be very difficult to determine. One of the reasons its so difficult to discover what is the root cause of the swelling or water on the knee, is that it can be a result of a recent injury or it could be something more degenerative and have happened gradually over time.

Finding the root cause of the swelling is vital in deciding what treatment program is required to repair the knee.

The appearance of the swollen knee is caused by a build up of fluid, either in the knee joint or in the surrounding tissue.

Excess fluid in the knee is caused by an increase in the production of Synovial fluid, a fluid that helps lubricate the join space found in the knee joint. This is also commonly referred to as swollen knee, knee effusion and as mentioned before fluid or water on the knee.

The injury that is associated with a swelling behind the knee is often determined by 3 main categories

Category 1 – Acute Injuries
Category 2 – Chronic Conditions
Category 3 – Swelling without a related injury

  • Acute injuries are injuries that have occurred which results in swelling within hours of the injury. The swelling is caused by fluid which can be identified as one of two types. Type one “blood on the knee” is most commonly caused by a fracture of a bone in the knee, damage to cartilage on the knee and an ACL tear (see more about ACL injuries here). The second tyep of fluid is what is classified as “Non-Bloody” this fluid is normally a product of tearing in the meniscus or straining of the ligaments of the knee.
  • Chronic Conditions are when swelling on the knee is caused via a gradual onset (as opposed to the immediate rapid onset of the other two categories). most commonly the swelling builds up over time by wear and tear to the knee or by knee arthritis. When a patient has knee arthritis its often the case that level of fluid behind the knee or in the knee fluctuates with time and increased activity often leads to increased swelling.
  • Swelling without a related injury, is usually caused by an infection or a bout of gout or pseudo-gout. the swelling comes on rapidly. Gout is caused by an accumulation of uric crystals within the knee, Pseudo Gout is caused by an accumulation of calcium crystals in the knee joint.  Both these conditions lead to swelling behind the knee.

As with all injuries to the knee you should consult a specialist in the field of orthopedics before trying any remedial treatment, as they wd anbe bale to take scans of the knee if required and come up with a treatment plan to help your knee recover, your knee is one of the most vital joints in the body to get you around, particularly as we age we need to ensure our knees are healthy and structurally sound.

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