Knee effusion or swelling of the knee (colloquially known as water on the knee) occurs when excess synovial fluid accumulates in or around the knee joint. There are many common causes for the swelling, including arthritis, injury to the ligaments or meniscus, or fluid collecting in the bursa, a condition known as prepatellar bursitis.
Causes of the swelling can include arthritis, injury to the ligaments of the knee, or an accident after which the body’s natural reaction is to surround the knee with a protective fluid. There could also be an underlying disease or condition. The type of fluid that accumulates around the knee depends on the underlying disease, condition or type of traumatic injury that caused the excess fluid. The swelling can, in most cases, be easily cured.
When your knee swells due to minor injury, give yourself sufficient rest. You need to avoid engaging in strenuous activities. You need to stay in bed for at least one week to regain full recovery. This allows fluid to drain away, and reduces pressure on the joint. Don’t walk or put weight on the knee unnecessarily until the pain and fluid have subsided.
Use a cold pack to alleviate pain and reduce fluid buildup. You can use a wash cloth soaked in cold water, or a commercial cold pack stored in the freezer. Do not use ice or freezer packs directly on the skin, instead, wrap the frozen product in a towel and wrap it around the knee. Apply this cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes every two to four hours as needed for pain.
If you follow a healthy nutritious diet, it will not only lessen your knee swelling but also support your strength and energy in your body. You should ingest vitamin C rich foods having antioxidants such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, red peppers, citrus fruits, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and spinach that can stop the wear and tear on your joints, and lessen the swelling and osteoarthritis inflammation. You should eat vitamin B rich foods such as fish, eggs, lean meat, whole grain cereals, lentil and soybeans; vitamin D foods like dairy products, and omega-3 fatty foods such as flax seeds, salmon and walnuts that will decrease the swelling and pain too.
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin that works like a pain reliever. Capsaicin’s natural analgesic or pain-relieving properties produce a warm sensation and reduce pain in the affected knee.
- Prepare a mixture by adding two tablespoons of cayenne pepper powder in one-half cup of warm olive oil. Apply this paste on the affected area twice daily for at least one week.
- You can also mix one-quarter or one-half teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder in one cup of apple cider vinegar. Soak a clean washcloth in this solution and apply it on the aching area for about 20 minutes once or twice daily until the pain and inflammation is reduced.
- You can even apply a gel containing 0.0125 percent capsaicin topically to reduce knee pain.
Popular for its use in spicy Indian dishes like curry, turmeric is an excellent herbal remedy for swelling of the knees. It contains curcumin, which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent in the body. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, turmeric helps treat the pain and swelling of osteoarthritis when used in combination with Boswellia, winter cherry extract and zinc. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it useful for other conditions that involve inflammation, such as uveitis (eye inflammation) and ulcerative colitis. The average dose of turmeric for treating swelling of the knees is 1 to 3 grams of dried root powder daily. Turmeric may be taken in capsule form, brewed into tea or added to foods for its anti-inflammatory effects.
Eucalyptus oil has analgesic, or pain-relieving properties that help get rid of knee pain. The cooling sensation of this oil can even ease knee pain from arthritis. A study published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal indicates that even inhaling this essential oil may help reduce pain and inflammation after total knee replacement.
- Blend together five to seven drops each of eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil. Then, mix in two tablespoons of olive oil.
- Store the mixture in a dark glass bottle, away from direct sunlight.
- Rub this mixture onto your knees whenever they ache.
- Make sure to massage gently so that the oil penetrates deep into the skin.