How to reduce the amount of fluid in the knees


Knee fluid, also known as knee spill or knee water, is a painful condition that occurs when fluid builds up around and within the knee joint. If you have this condition, it may help to study the causes, symptoms, and ways to reduce the amount of fluid in your knee. The methods you use to reduce the swelling will depend on the cause and may require a diagnosis from your doctor.

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Fluid in the knee can be caused by injury, overuse, infections, cysts, or underlying medical conditions such as gout , rheumatoid arthritis , and osteoarthritis.

The knee joint is a synovial joint that contains fluid . It helps provide nutrition to the cartilage that lines the joint, lubricates and reduces friction. Excess fluid around the joint can cause swelling, pain, and stiffness.

If you are active and healthy, the most common cause of knee swelling is an ACL tear, a meniscus tear, or a contusion. Repetitive movements during sports, such as running, squatting, and lifting weights, often cause knee pain, but not necessarily swelling.

Underlying pain conditions like gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis can cause an abnormal inflammatory response that causes excess fluid to build up as your body tries to protect your joint. Occasionally, osteoarthritis or tears can cause cysts called Baker's cysts, which can cause knee effusion.

Traumatic injuries and infections can also cause knee effusion. If you are injured or have a fever with unexplained swelling of the knee, see your doctor immediately.

When should you see a doctor for knee fluid?

Tell your doctor if you are injured, have a fever, redness, or warmth in the joint. If home treatments don't work or prescription medications don't improve symptoms, tell your doctor right away.


To diagnose knee fluid, your healthcare professional will check for the following symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Rigidity
  • Decreased range of motion.
  • Hot
  • Loss of sensation
  • Difficulty walking or transferring weight to the affected leg.
  • Warmth and redness

To determine the root cause of fluid formation in the knee, your doctor may order a procedure called a joint aspiration, in which a sample of fluid is removed with a needle. The fluid is then tested for white blood cells that indicate inflammation, bacteria that indicate infection, or uric acid crystals from gout. Imaging techniques such as X- rays or MRIs may also be ordered for diagnosis, especially if a rupture or other trauma is anticipated.

Watch out

Treatment to remove fluid from the knee will depend on the cause and the diagnosis your doctor makes. For mild cases, you can try the following home treatments:

  • RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, is best for mild pain immediately after injury.
  • Compression by gently wrapping the knee with an elastic band.
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
  • Physiotherapy
  • Wear a knee brace

If treatment is needed, your healthcare provider may perform a joint aspiration to drain some of the fluid, which will provide temporary relief. Corticosteroid injections into the joints are another form of treatment that reduces pain and inflammation from trauma or joint damage due to arthritis.

If the fluid in the knee is caused by an infection, antibiotics will be prescribed. Oral broad-spectrum antibiotics for 14 days are usually sufficient, but if the infection is caused by resistant bacteria, IV antibiotics may be needed for two to four weeks.

Signs of infection

Joint infections can be very painful and develop quickly. If you have a sore, hot, or red knee, fever, chills, or malaise, seek immediate medical attention.

For underlying conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, medications can be used to suppress an overactive immune response. In severe cases of fluid in the knee, you may need joint surgery called arthroplasty or even a joint replacement . These methods are used only as a last resort if all other medical interventions have failed.

Get the word of drug information

Fluid in the knee can hurt and make your quality of life worse. Knowing the causes, symptoms, and methods of reducing swelling at home or with the help of your healthcare provider can dramatically improve your symptoms. If you are injured or suspect an infection, tell your doctor immediately.

Frequently asked questions

  • The choice between heat or ice depends on the type of injury. Apply ice if you are trying to reduce inflammation, which is necessary for recent injuries such as a sprain or torn meniscus.

    Apply heat if you want to relieve pain and improve flexibility, which is the goal of treating arthritis and chronic muscle or joint pain.

  • The type of exercise you can do to reduce the amount of water on your knees depends on the cause of the fluid build-up. Consider consulting with your doctor for a diagnosis and with a physical therapist who can provide specific exercises. Stretches to improve range of motion and strength-building exercises may be recommended.

  • Yes, the fluid in your knee can get worse if you don't fix the problem. Bacterial infection can spread and cause permanent damage. A meniscus tear can lead to long-term debilitating pain and loss of mobility if left untreated. This is why getting an immediate diagnosis from a doctor is so important.

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