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Got sudden swelling on leg patella while walking. Initially was not able to walk but now is limping

Jul 2013
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Answered by

Orthopaedic Surgeon, Joint Replacement
Practicing since : 1996
Answered : 2148 Questions
Hi Doc,

My dad is 70 years old and when he was walking around the garden yesterday, he got a sudden swelling on his right leg patella. initially he was not able to walk but now he is able to and is limping. can you help?
Posted Sun, 22 Sep 2013 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. K. Naga Ravi Prasad 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
It could be KNEE EFFUSION.

Detailed Answer:
Hi, thanks for writing to XXXXXXX

A SUDDEN appearance of knee swelling always suggests KNEE EFFUSION and possibly HEMARTHROSIS (blood in the joint).

If there is any history of mild injury or trauma to the knee within the last 24-48 hours, it could possibly be Hemarthrosis (blood in the knee joint).

If the swelling has occured SPONTANEOUSLY without any history of even mild injury, it is ACUTE EFFUSION (Non bloody fluid in the knee). This might result due to overuse of the knee joint as in walking vigorously in a single stretch for long distances.

There is a possibility of an INFECTION also within the knee joint which presents with swelling of the knee joint without any history of injury.

The initial management of this condition includes -
* Rest to the involved joint and avoiding activities that causes pain
* Ice packing of the area every 2-3 hours to alleviate the pain
* An Elastic compression stocking applied over the swollen area to prevent the increase in swelling
* Foot end elevation for most of the time
* Simple analgesics like Advil or Aleve as needed.

An xray of the knee joint is necessary to rule out any bony pathology. And MRI scan is needed to know any soft tissue pathology in the ligaments, tendons or meniscus of the involved knee.

As there are numerous causes that produce knee effusions, A detailed clinical examination and appropriate investigations are mandatory to establish the underlying cause.

So, If your Dad's symptoms are not improving, I suggest you to approach an orthopedic surgeon for further evaluation and management.

Hope I have addressed your query. I welcome any clarification


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