Water in the knee - causes, therapy and home remedies

Water in the knee - causes, therapy and home remedies

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Water accumulation in the knees
Water in the knee is not a description of a disease, but a popular term for excessive moisture accumulating in the knees. A certain amount of fluid in the knee joint is not only normal but necessary for the joint to work. An effusion of fluid in the knee, however, belongs in the hands of a doctor, it is not a disease, but a symptom.

The most common causes are arthrosis on the knee joints, damage to the meniscus or other mechanical irritation. The surrounding tissue ignites, and therefore the tissue water collects and the mucous membranes are irritated. The knee is swollen and feels warm - typical signs of inflammation. The water in the knee is the body's own fluid.

Inflammatory substances are released, which also ignites the surrounding tissue, and therefore the tissue water collects, the mucous membranes are irritated and the bursae become inflamed (bursitis). The water in the knee is usually the body's own fluid, but injuries can also be blood or pus can infiltrate bacteria.


Water in the knee limits the functionality, which means that the knee can no longer be moved. The knee can become completely stiff. The sufferers suffer immense pain because the swelling and water press on the nerves.

The pain increases when the patient strains the knee. If the symptoms persist, then strain means getting up or walking. They suffer from both pulsating and pressure pain.

Damage to the meniscus

Menisci is the technical term for cartilage in the knee joint. These sit at the ends of the bones of the thigh and shin. They usually absorb shocks and blows, thus protecting the sensitive knee joint from damage.

An injured meniscus frays and cracks form. Classical causes are accidents in which the knee is twisted or subjected to strong pressure - a tear in the meniscus is one of the typical injuries of snowboarders and ski jumpers.

But age wear can also cause menisci to tear.

Another cause is not an acute accident, but a chronic overload, for example, if you keep your knee in an unnatural position or carry heavy weights improperly - hauliers or people who work in the care of the disabled are familiar with the problem.

We distinguish between the location and shape of the tear between a meniscal tear in the front, middle or back third, and also between vertical, horizontal, transverse or lobe-shaped cracks.

The cracks usually appear on the inner meniscus, the meniscus medialis, which is firmly overgrown, therefore immobile and therefore much more sensitive to blows or shocks. In addition, almost half of all meniscus injuries occur in the back third of this inner meniscus. Men are affected twice as often as women.

A traumatic meniscus tear usually arises from sports injuries when they dislocate or stop abruptly - typically in tennis, soccer, handball, skiing, inline skating or skateboarding and in acrobatic exercises.

There is a particularly high risk if your meniscus is already overloaded, for example due to permanent heavy physical work, age or diseases of the knee joints and you also practice potentially stressful sports.

In the event of chronic overload, the smallest cracks appear in the meniscus that they hardly notice. Now a little stretch is enough, for example when you crouch so that the meniscus tears.

Even congenital malpositions such as the so-called X-legs or the "disc meniscus" increase the risk of contracting a meniscus tear.

Other causes

  • Ostechondral Fracture: Sounds complicated, but is easy to explain. If parts of the articular cartilage break off due to injuries, this often leads to edema in the knee.
  • Cruciate ligament tear: If the cruciate ligaments or one of them tear, water can accumulate in the knee.
  • Patellar luxation: A luxation of the patella means that the patella jumps out. If this happens only partially, the term is subluxation. In both cases, fluid can pour into the knee.


A knee joint effusion can form after surgery on the knee joint. The accumulation usually lasts about 3 weeks. This is a normal reaction: the operation irritates the mucous membrane of the joint, which in response produces more fluid.

Such effusions are harmless, usually pass by themselves or can be relieved by a puncture, which can leak fluid.

It looks different if the knee becomes infected. Then an inflammatory effusion can occur, and in an emergency the knee joint fills with pus.

Home remedies for water in the knees

If you have knee water, be sure to see a doctor. However, you can alleviate the complaints yourself - with simple means.

Keep your leg still and take a bath with sea salt. Place curd on a damp cloth and wrap it around the affected joint.

Cold acts against the swelling, but do not put cold packs directly on the skin, but instead wrap the ice in Tücker, for example, or fill a rubber container with ice cubes. Fluid in the knee after a trauma or surgery is a normal reaction. It usually does not need to be punctured because the water disappears when the wound heals.

This takes time, however, and sometimes you are struggling for months. Protect your knee during this time, so avoid forms of stress, be it through exercise or hard physical work.


The more the child gains weight in the womb, the more the weight puts strain on the knee joints. They're under constant pressure now. Often this leads to irritation, the body reacts to the overload by producing more synovial fluid.

The weight of the fetus also presses on the vena cava in the small pelvis, and this may slow down the transport of the nasty blood to the heart - as a result, fluid is stored in the knees, hands and feet.


A joint puncture is usually performed by an orthopedist or surgeon. Specialists differentiate between bloodless and bloody knee effusions. In the case of a knee injury, the fluid removed is red, in the case of a healthy joint it is clear.

If there is a hematoma, the orthopedic surgeon lets as much blood as possible flow out of the knee joint, as the accumulation can damage the cartilage, and the knee joint provokes an inflammatory reaction.

Prevent water in the knee

In old people, rheumatic diseases and the so-called activated arthrosis often lead to water in the knee.

The better your body is in shape, the more you have injuries from overuse under control, which means: The stronger the connective tissue, the bones and muscles are, the more stable your knee is.

If you are considered a risk patient, physiotherapy will help you with exercises that prevent knee joint effusion. This includes gait school, because many knee injuries result from incorrect walking, this includes muscle and coordination training, and this includes occupational therapy.

You should also learn relaxation exercises to relieve muscles, tendons and ligaments. Stretching exercises also help to keep the knee flexible. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Joseph J. Biundo: Bursitis, MSD Manual, (accessed 09.09.2019), MSD
  • Dieter Kohn: Expertise in orthopedics and trauma surgery - Knie, Thieme Verlag, 1st edition, 2015
  • Carl Joachim Wirth, Wolf Mutschler, Dieter Kohn, Tim Pohlemann: Practice of Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery, Thieme Verlag, 3rd edition, 2013
  • Detmar Jobst, Martin Mücke: Knee pain with osteoarthritis signs, DEGAM S1 recommendation for action, German Society for General Medicine and Family Medicine (DEGAM), (accessed 09.09.2019), AWMF

Video: Pain and Swelling in Knee - Ayurvedic Home Remedies (July 2022).


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