What Causes Knee Pain and Swelling?

Knee Pain and Swelling

Knee pain and swelling can be caused by various factors, including injuries, medical conditions, and overuse. Here are some common causes:

  • Injuries:
    • Sprains and Strains: Overstretching or tearing ligaments (sprains) or muscles and tendons (strains) around the knee can lead to pain and swelling.
    • Meniscus Tears: The meniscus is a cartilage in the knee, and tears can occur due to sudden twisting or overuse, causing pain and swelling.
    • ACL or PCL Injuries: Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) can result from sports injuries or traumatic events.
  • Osteoarthritis:
    • Degenerative Joint Disease: Osteoarthritis is a common cause of knee pain, especially in older adults. It involves the breakdown of the cartilage in the knee joint.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis:
    • Autoimmune Disorder: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the synovium (lining of the joints), leading to inflammation, pain, and swelling.
  • Bursitis:
    • Inflammation of Bursae: Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that cushion joints. Inflammation of the bursae around the knee can cause pain and swelling.
  • Tendonitis:
    • Inflammation of Tendons: Overuse or repetitive motions can lead to inflammation of the tendons around the knee, causing pain and swelling.
  • Gout:
    • Uric Acid Crystals: Gout occurs when uric acid crystals accumulate in the joints, leading to inflammation and intense pain.
  • Infections:
    • Septic Arthritis: Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections can lead to septic arthritis, causing pain, swelling, and redness in the affected joint.
  • Ligament Injuries:
    • MCL or LCL Injuries: Injuries to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) or lateral collateral ligament (LCL) can occur due to trauma, causing pain and swelling.
  • Patellar Tendinitis:
    • Inflammation of Patellar Tendon: Overuse or repetitive stress on the patellar tendon (which connects the kneecap to the shinbone) can cause pain and swelling.
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS):
    • Inflammation of IT Band: ITBS occurs when the iliotibial band, a thick band of tissue running along the outside of the thigh, becomes inflamed, leading to knee pain and swelling.
  • Lupus:
    • Autoimmune Disorder: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune condition that can affect joints, causing pain and inflammation.
  • Obesity:
    • Excess Weight: Being overweight can contribute to knee pain and swelling by putting extra stress on the joints.
  • Dislocation or Fracture:
    • Trauma: A dislocated kneecap or a fracture in the bones around the knee can cause severe pain and swelling.

If you are experiencing persistent knee pain and swelling, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Treatment may involve rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE), physical therapy, medications, or, in severe cases, surgical intervention.

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