Water on the knee
Water on the knee
Water on the knee is a general term for excess fluid accumulation in or around your knee joint. Your doctor may refer to this condition as an effusion (uh-FU-zhun) in your knee joint.
Water on the knee may be the result of trauma, overuse injuries, or an underlying disease or condition. To determine the cause of water on the knee, your doctor may need to obtain a sample of the fluid to test for infection, disease or injury.
Removing some of the fluid also helps reduce the pain and stiffness associated with water on the knee. Once your doctor determines the underlying cause of your water on the knee, appropriate treatment can begin.
Signs and symptoms of water on the knee typically include:
When to see a doctor
Water on the knee can be caused by many different types of problems, ranging from traumatic injuries to diseases and conditions.
Diseases and conditions
The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of tough, rubbery cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between your shinbone and thighbone. It can be torn if you suddenly twist your knee while bearing weight on ...
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the key ligaments that help stabilize your knee joint. The ACL connects your thighbone (femur) to your shinbone (tibia). It's most commonly torn during ...
If left untreated, water on the knee can severely limit your mobility. If the swelling is caused by an infection, it can destroy the joint.
Preparing for your appointment
While you may initially bring your symptoms to the attention of your family doctor, he or she may refer you to a doctor specializing in conditions related to arthritis (rheumatologist), in sports medicine or in orthopedic surgery.
What you can do
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
Water on the knee is a sign of an underlying knee problem, usually arthritis, an infection or an injury. Your doctor may order some of the following tests to determine the underlying cause.
Joint aspiration (arthrocentesis)
Treatments and drugs
Pain medications and procedures to remove fluid from the knee joint reduce the symptoms of water on the knee. Treatment varies for diseases and conditions causing water on the knee, but depending on the severity of the swelling and your medical history, options may include:
Surgical and other procedures
Lifestyle and home remedies
Taking care of yourself when you have water on the knee includes:
Water on the knee is typically the result of a chronic health condition or traumatic injury. To prevent water on the knee, work with your doctor and other members of your health care team to manage the condition or traumatic injury that causes it. For example:
Last Updated: 2012-06-16
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