Why Does My Knee Feel Tight and Swollen?

When it comes to knee stiffness and swelling, we have all faced this in our lives. Common symptoms like knee feeling tight when bending after running, stiff knee after sitting, stiff knee pain when bending, knee stiffness when extending, etc are faced by almost everyone at least once in their lives. It is caused due to a multitude of problems. It can be because of a recent accident, an injury, a tear, mechanical problems, stressors, or extra weight gain. If you are someone who does not exercise or strengthen their muscles, you are speeding the onset of degenerative diseases which is why your knee might feel swollen.

Causes and Plans For Stiff Knee treatment

When it comes to stiff knee treatment, stiff knee exercises and physiotherapy for knee pain are two of the most standards treatments when it comes to knee pain. However, each treatment plan is unique as your stiff knee maybe because of varying underlying causes. They are-

Fluid Build-Up – Pain is a natural response of the body when it wants to signal the brain that is something is wrong. It is a natural response that demands your attention to stop it from getting worse. The fluid build-up may be one of the reasons behind the pain in your knee. This is a common negative repercussion after an injury or even a pre-existing medical condition. This painful condition causes soreness, tightness, and varying degrees of pain considering the severity of the injury. This swelling can heavily impact your range of motion and flexibility. Conditions like gout, arthritis, cysts, and tumors can also aggravate swelling in the knee.

Treatment – To treat fluid build-up, try these following home remedies- 

  • Exercise and try to facilitate movement in your knees, this helps redistribute the fluid build-up. 
  • Elevate your legs above the chest level to help pump back some of the excess fluid built around the knee. 
  • For a few days, follow a less- sodium-rich diet that can help with excess fluid build-up. 
  • Avoid wearing tight clothes, and carry compression stockings with you if you are traveling. 

Ligament Tear – This type of injury can be caused due to overstretching and accidents, fall, or sports injuries. Damaging the ligament of the knee can tear, sprain and rupture and also cause further internal bleeding. The repercussions are knee feels tight and stiff, stiff knee pain when bending, swelling, and limited range of motion.

Treatment – For ligament tears, the suggested treatments are-

  • Try the RICE method, and keep your knees elevated with constant ice therapy. 
  • For managing painful symptoms, do take over the counter pain medivations. 
  • Compression, support, and protection of the affected ligaments are crucial. Use knee braces and crutches during the initial phase for healing. 
  • For rehabilitation and faster recovery, physiotherapy for knee pain is highly recommended.

Meniscus Tear – This type of injury happens when you damage, tear or rupture the cartilage between the bones of the knee. This happens when you put additional pressure or stress on the knee. This usually happens in sports when you have to constantly twist and rotate the knee. This can happen in your regular life too, if you trying to get up the stairs too easily, squatting improperly, using stairs, or have degenerative conditions. It causes swelling, stiff knee, inflammation, and redness. You can also feel reduced mobility and range of motion. 

Treatment – For meniscus tears, the suggested treatments are- 

  • Always elevate the affected knee above the chest and regularly ice it. 
  • NSAID and OTC drugs for short-term pain management. 
  • Compression and knee inhibitors to restrict movement during the healing process 
  • Movement correction to avoid putting weight on the affected knee is an important part of physiotherapy for knee pain. 
  • Use crutches initially to help with daily movements.
  • If you are considering surgery, do opt for physiotherapy for knee pain for rehabilitation and faster recovery.  
  • Practice knee rehabilitation exercises regularly. 

Also Read: Benefits of RA Physical Therapy for Joint Health

Post-Surgery Stiffness – If you have undergone major surgery on your knee, sometimes it takes time to go back to your original mobility. Knee stiffness, swelling, pain, and inflammation are common after major surgery.

Treatment – For post knee surgery rehabilitation, do consider the following- 

  • Make sure that the knee braces and compressions fit your knee comfortably. Make sure that you can easily fit in two fingers. 
  • Do use your crutches if you have been prescribed them as a part of your rehab and recovery journey. 
  • Hold off on intense physical exercises like running, swimming or jumping. 
  • Follow a healthy diet, and avoid putting on any excess weight 
  • Do not rest all the time, move around and walk as much as you can without adding any extra pressure. Try out physiotherapy for knee pain to manage pain. 
  • Apply regular icing and elevate your leg.
  • Get enough sleep and do keep your knees raised.

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis – These are two of the most common types of arthritis. It can lead to knee stiffness, tightness, swelling, inflammation, pain, and redness. Osteoarthritis, commonly known as the wear and tear disease causes the joints between the knees to erode. It causes bone spurs which are quite painful. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder that can cause damage to the lining of the joints causing stiffness and swelling. The common symptoms of these two diseases are a limited range of motion, mobility, flexibility, functionality, stiffness, and in some cases- deformity.

Treatment – You can do the following to manage arthritis

  • Physiotherapy for knee pain consists of many exercises that can be practiced at home for better mobility and function. 
  • Practicing regular low impact exercises like aqua aerobics, walking, or pilates. 
  • Getting NSAIDS or pain medication for pain management. 
  • Massage therapies for stress relief 
  • Heat and ice therapy regularly post workout.

Exercise Tips for Stiff Knee

For reduced stiffness and improved mobility no matter your diagnosis, try the following tips and tricks for exercises to relieve joint pain and knee stiffness. 

  • Stretches and yoga poses regularly are great to relieve tension and stress build up from aching joints. 
  • Work on making yourself more flexible to prevent the onset of degenrative diseases. 
  • Hip abduction exercises are great to enocourage healthy flow of movement and preserving range of motion. It is also forms an essential part of physiotherapy for knee pain. 
  • Always stretch before and after exercise to prevent injury and promote faster recovery. 
  • Instead of a dynamic stretc, try gentle stretching poses to avoid any unforeseen injuries or muscle tears. Try focusing on your breath and relaxing after the end of a workout. 
  • Be consistent with your exercises. If you are at a beginner level, make sure that you repeat the stretching exercises at least 3 times a week or 20 minutes everyday. Consistently is important to manage your pain and promote range of motion. 
  • Work on your posture and make sure you maintain a good posture at all times. 
  • Try performing exercises the correct way. An incorrect stance, overstretch or bad posture can do more harm than good to your knee pain. 
  • Be sure to stretch both sides equally. 
  • Do not overdo or overkill with the exercise regime. Perform at your own pace.

Also Read: Knee Arthritis Exercises to Avoid

For more information about knee arthritis and physiotherapy for knee pain, head on to Phyt Health, India’s first digital physiotherapy platform offering online physiotherapy services and consultations. With a wealth of knee exercises present on their website, you can include them in your daily life depending on your comfort level. All these exercises are curated by expert physiotherapists at Phyt Health. You can also book your online video consultation on the app, to discuss any issues you might be facing and begin your journey towards recovery!