What Does A Swelling On The Side Of The Knee Mean? | 5 Reasons Why It Happens

As you grow older, knee pain becomes all the more frequent. Whether it’s from applying too much pressure on your legs or simply a test of time, there’s no escape.

An aching knee can cause several problems besides unbearable pain. It can even disrupt your day-to-day life and give way to swelling on the side of your knee.

While this may not seem like that big of a deal, in some cases, it could indicate an underlying health disease. The best course of action, then, is to seek help the moment you notice something is wrong.

What Causes Swelling on The Side of the Knee?

Side knee swelling is usually a sign that you’re dealing with internal inflammation. Be it due to a torn ligament or damaged cartilage, identifying the exact cause is important. Here are a couple of common reasons why you might have noticed a little swelling on the side of your knee:

Torn Meniscus

The meniscus is a soft, rubbery cushion that sits between the thighbone and femur. It helps absorb shock and keeps your knee mobile. If torn or damaged, the meniscus can cause sharp pain and swelling.


Severe joint pain is a precursor of arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis. It’s a natural condition that causes your knee joint to wear away over time, giving way to swelling and tissue inflammation.

Knee Sprain

A sprained knee doesn’t just cause swelling but also disrupts the flow of fluid and blood in your joint. This ultimately causes extra fluid to gather in the knee sac, making it appear puffy and swollen.

Knee Bursitis

If the swelling on your knee looks like a tiny pocket on the side, it might be due to knee bursitis. Every knee has a small pocket filled with fluid, known as the bursa, which prevents the bones from rubbing against each other. However, when the bursa gets inflamed, it leads to swelling.

Dislocated Knee

When your kneecap slides out of place, it can give way to a dislocated knee which causes immense pain along with swelling.

Treatment Methods

Here are some of the most common ways to treat a swollen knee:

The RICE Method

Rest, ice, compression, and elevation. These are the four components of the RICE method. With proper rest and care, you can prevent the swelling or injury from getting worse.

Compression Bandage

A compression bandage is an elastic bandage that is supposed to tightly wrap around the knee cap. Its purpose is to reduce swelling by limiting the blood flowing to the joint.

Over-The-Counter Medication

When swelling is accompanied by pain, over-the-counter pain-relieving medications can be of great help.

Weight Loss

In certain cases, obesity can trigger the knee joints to wear away due to the added pressure. Although by managing your weight, you can effectively lighten the pain as well as the swelling.

Physical Therapy

If your swollen knee feels incredibly stiff, physical therapy might be exactly what you need to loosen up and reduce the swelling.

Knee Brace

Used only in the case of osteoarthritis, a knee brace helps to shift the burden on the knee, which helps to eliminate the pain.

Arthroscopic Surgery

Reserved for extreme cases, arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that helps diagnose and treat numerous knee-related problems.

Closing Words

Swelling on the side of the knee is not always a cause for concern. Sure, it may be painful, but it isn’t a medical emergency. Regardless, it is better to get the injury professionally evaluated to ensure there are no underlying health conditions at play.

For more professional input or information, contact Rheumatology Care at (832) 532-9779. You can also visit us at 3688 Breton Ridge St, STE H, Houston, TX 77070, near the Houston Kidney Specialists Center.

Disclaimer - Use At Your Own Risk :- The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for any individual case or situation. Any action you take upon the information on these blogs are strictly at your own risk. We will not be liable for any losses or damages in connection with the use of the information from these blogs.
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