Swelling within an arthritic knee is common as the body produces extra fluid within the joint. The amount of fluid changes over time and can be related to activity.
Prepatellar bursitis, also known as housemaid’s knee, involves fluid accumulating in the bursa, a thin fluid filled sack area on top of the patella (knee cap), outside the knee joint.
This can be caused by trauma or overuse and results in pain and swelling on the knee cap.
If swelling continues after resting the joint or if infection is suspected, the fluid can be drained. This simple procedure can take place in outpatients. A sample of the fluid is tested for infection, which will be treated by antibiotics.
In some cases, the swelling will continue to return following draining the bursa. This may require removal of the bursa to prevent recurrence.
Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints, which leads to inflammation, swelling and pain. Pseudogout has a similar presentation, but is caused by a build up of calcium crystals.
People who suffer from gout often have acute episodes with swelling starting suddenly in one or more joint. This can be triggered by alcohol, certain foods or medicines or can have no noticeable cause.
Gout can be diagnosed by your Consultant
removing a small sample of the fluid for analysis, to see if it contains crystals.
Once your Consultant has diagnosed gout or pseudogout, they can provide advice and prescriptions of anti-inflammatories and other medicines for mild attacks and provide injection therapies for moderate and severe ones.
Any trauma to the knee may result in swelling, which will come on quickly over the next 24 hours. Your knee will be investigated and a sample of the fluid taken, to see if it contains blood.
The most common causes of blood in the knee are torn ligaments, most frequently the ACL or a fracture. Swelling will occur within minutes of the injury.
If there is no blood in the fluid, this can indicate a meniscal tear
or a ligament sprain. The swelling will start quickly, within hours of the injury.
Assessment of the knee following an injury is advisable to test if there is blood in the fluid and to check for damage. Surgery is not always required and your Consultant will advise you on the most suitable investigation and treatment plan for the type of injury and your activity levels.
To ask a question about swollen knee or to book an appointment, contact our specialist team available Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm and on Saturday from 9am – 1pm. Our knee specialists team have a dedicated and caring approach and will seek to find you the earliest appointment possible with the correct specialist for your needs.
If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP. You can simply refer yourself and book an appointment.
If you have medical insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa PPP, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer for authorisation for any treatment and, in most cases, you will require a referral letter from your GP. If you do not have a GP, then we have an in-house private GP practice that you can use. Alternatively we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstance.
Call us on 020 7432 8328 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org