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Reducing Knee Pain and Swelling

Closeup of elevated knee with bandage and ice pack.

Many treatments can help reduce pain and swelling in your knee. Your healthcare provider or physical therapist may suggest one or more of the following treatments:

  • Icing your knee. This helps reduce swelling. You may be asked to ice your knee once a day or more. Apply ice for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time, with at least 40 minutes between sessions. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin.

  • Keeping your leg raised above your heart. This helps excess fluid flow out of your knee joint to reduce swelling.

  • Compression. This means wrapping an elastic bandage or neoprene sleeve snugly around your knees. It keeps fluid from collecting in and around your knee joint.

  • Electrical stimulation. This is done by a physical therapist or athletic trainer. It can help reduce excess fluid in your knee joint.

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines. These may be prescribed by your healthcare provider. You may take pills or get shots (injections) in your knee.

  • Isometric (contracting) exercises. These strengthen the muscles that support your knee joint. They also help reduce excess fluid in your knee.

  • Massage. This helps fluid drain away from your knee.

© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.