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Water on the Knee


Disease: Water on the Knee Water on the Knee
Category: Bones, joints, muscles diseases

Disease Definition:

The generally used term to describe the excess fluid that accumulates in or around the knee joint is water on the knee, which could be the result of overuse injuries, trauma or an underlying disease or condition. The water on the knee can also be referred to as “effusion”.


A person’s mobility doesn’t have to be limited because of the pain and swelling associated with water on the knee. To help keep themselves on the move, people can use self-care measures and treatments.


The type of fluid that builds up in the knee depends on the underlying condition, disease or type of traumatic injury that caused excess fluid in the first place.

Work Group:

Symptoms, Causes


Depending on the cause of excess fluid buildup in the knee joint, signs and symptoms may include:



The patient won’t be able to bend or straighten their knee as far as they normally could, because the range of motion could be limited when the knee joint contains excess fluid.



Pain usually occurs when bearing weight in the case of osteoarthritis, which normally subsides with rest.



A person may notice bruising on the front, sides or even behind the knee in case the knee has been injured. The pain could be unbearable and bearing weight on the knee joint impossible.



The puffiness around the bony parts of the knee will appear prominent when compared with the other knee, so that one knee will appear larger than the other.



Osteoarthritis, which is the breakdown of joint cartilage, is the most common cause of knee problems and could affect any joint in the body. Fluid buildup could be produced in and around the knee joint because of some of these conditions and diseases:

  • Cysts
  • Infection
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout
  • Tumors
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Prepatellar (kneecap) bursitis
  • Pseudogout



The most complex joint in the body is the knee, which functions like a hinge, allowing it to bend and straighten. The painful buildup of excess joint fluid (synovial fluid) that could contain bacteria, irritating crystals or blood, could be the cause of damage to any part of the knee. Some of the traumatic injuries that cause fluid buildup in and around the knee joint contain:

  • Ligament tear
  • Broken bones (fractures).
  • Overuse injuries
  • Meniscus tear



In case the knee joint is infected, it could cause destruction of the joint or it could even extend into the bone (osteomyelitis), which if left untreated, will severely limit the mobility of the knee joint.


Treating the underlying disease or injury is what treatment for water on the knee focuses on.



In order to treat the underlying infection, the patient will be prescribed antibiotics; however, the patient could also need repeated aspiration of the infected joint or even surgery.



To help relieve the pressure of joint fluid buildup, the fluid can be removed from the knee joint, after which, to treat inflammation, the patient will be injected a corticosteroid into his/her joint.


Arthroscopic knee surgery:

In this procedure, an orthopedic surgeon examines the inside of the knee joint for wear and tear and repairs the damage inside the knee joint using an arthroscope, which is a surgical tool that is designed to look inside the knee joint.


Gout or pseudogout:

Inflammation in the joint and surrounding soft tissues can be caused in these two conditions, due to the deposit of uric acid or CPPD crystals in the joints. To treat an acute attack of gout or pseudogout, NSAIDs, colchicine or intra-articular corticosteroid injections could be recommended. After an acute attack of gout has subsided, the patient may start allopurinol, or probenecid, which decreases the body’s production of uric acid attempting to prevent additional episodes of gout.


Joint replacement:

Even though most people with osteoarthritis of the knee don’t require surgery, but they may be referred to an orthopedic surgeon for knee replacement in case bearing weight on their knee joint becomes intolerable.


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