5 Best Exercises to Reduce Swelling in your Knee

The knee is a complex joint that is made up of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that work together to provide us with a wide range of motion. Unfortunately, this joint is also vulnerable to various injuries, traumas, and other conditions that can cause inflammation, leading to swelling and pain.

One of the most common causes of knee swelling is an injury to the ligaments or tendons of the knee. Ligaments and tendons are the connective tissues that help support the knee and keep it stable. When these tissues become damaged due to a traumatic injury, such as a fall or a sports-related accident, they become inflamed, resulting in swelling. This swelling is the body’s natural response to the injury. There needs to be trauma to tear a ligament. So commonly these injuries are sports injuries.

In older people, simple movements can cause something known as a degenerative meniscus tear. The meniscus is a shock-cushion between the knee to absorb force. After 50, 60 or 70+ years, the meniscus degenerates and can tear. This can cause swelling in the knee.

Another common cause of knee swelling is arthritis. Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects the joints and can cause them to become stiff and swollen. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joint and can cause swelling, pain, and stiffness in the knee.

Knee swelling can also be caused by a number of other medical conditions, such as gout or bursitis. Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by the build-up of uric acid crystals in the joint, resulting in pain and swelling. Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that cushions the joint, and can cause swelling and pain. Tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons that support the knee, and can also lead to swelling.

Finally, knee swelling can also be caused by overuse or repetitive motions. When the knee is forced to perform the same motion over and over, it can lead to inflammation and swelling.

3 Great Tips for Knee Swelling

If you have tried ice, rest, compression and it's not working for you, try a knee aspiration. At Surrey Physio we aspirate the knee joint. It’s affordable, and costs just £120.00 (at the time of writing this article) but significantly reduces the swelling in the knee. Also, don't worry, it's not really painful as you can see from the following video, and in fact most patients report a lot of relief when the fluid starts coming out. This video is a great guide You can find out more here:

This page will give you more information about a knee aspiration: https://www.surreyphysio.co.uk/services/knee-aspiration/

The next step is to avoid high-impact activities such as running and jumping until your knee swelling has reduced. These activities are more likely to cause knee swelling and should be avoided if possible. Low-impact activities such as swimming or cycling can still provide a good form of exercise.

Third, gently move it. As you move the knee, it should help reduce the swelling. It is important to reduce the amount of physical activity you do that could be aggravating the knee. Yes we want you to exercise, but don’t overdo it if you are causing pain. This can help to reduce the amount of strain and pressure that the knee is subjected to, which can in turn help to reduce swelling. These exercises will help...

5 Best Exercises to Reduce Swelling in your Knee

1. Knee Swings: Sit on a high chair or table (slightly on the edge) and let your leg dangle. Bend your knee as far as feels comfortable, then relax. Keep the movement controlled, not too fast. You can also straighten the leg as well. This exercise is especially useful for increasing mobility to a stiff knee. If you don't have a high chair, sit on a sturdy table.

2. Ice - Apply an ice pack or frozen peas to your knee. Make sure you wrap it in a thin towel so its not too cold. Use this to reduce pain and inflammation. You may also find it useful to elevate the leg to further reduce swelling. Hold for 10 minutes, repeat twice per day.

3. Knee Flexion Supine – Slide your heel towards your bottom. Go as far as feels comfortable, and then return to the start position (with the leg straight). This is a good way to improve mobility to a stiff knee joint and reduce inflammation.

4. Patella Mobilisation - Sit with your knee straight, and your leg relaxed. Grasp your knee cap (patella) with your fingers and thumb, and wiggle your knee cap from side to side and up and down. You can also hold the patella to one side, and to the other side. It may be stiff to start, but once mobile the patella should move freely. This is a great exercise for anyone with a stiff patella and can help reduce inflammation under the kneecap.

5. Knee Extensions Prone - Lying face down, with your knee flexed, straighten your leg slowly and in a controlled manner. Return to the start position. Try not to let your leg jerk, but keep the movement as smooth as possible. This exercise is a useful hamstring rehabilitation exercise.

No matter the cause, it is important to seek medical attention or get a consultation with our physio team at Surrey Physio by calling 0208 685 6930 if you are experiencing persistent or severe knee swelling. This can help you identify the underlying cause and get the appropriate treatment to help reduce the swelling and pain.