Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Unexplained cyclical knee swelling

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 35 Replies
  • Posted By: Bognar
  • May 24, 2009
  • 04:29 PM

I have chronic, painless, cyclical knee swelling that occurs about every 11-13 days. It is completely painless but debilitating because I'm unable to bend my knee when it occurs. I have had x-rays, an MRI and blood tests which ruled out RA, Lupus, Lyme and Gout. I have taken NSAIDS and I've been in physical therapy for a month. Still, it swells almost every two weeks and then subsides on its own after about 5 days. Any ideas?

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  • I too have this problem. This is the third time I have gone through this. For me, it is also painless, but debilitating (due to the inability to bend my knees). I have finally figured out that it is associated with having children. Each time I have had a baby, 6 months later I have swelling in my knees. The swelling is cyclical, like yours. But, for me, it is a week on and then a week off. (I have swelling every 7 days, and then it lasts about 6 days.) With my second child, I went through extensive medical analysis, coming up empty handed like you. The reumatologist I finally ended up seeing told me that he had no idea what it could be (this was after testing me for all known causes), and if anything changed to let him know. The swelling went away on it's own when my second child was 21 months old.Oddly enough, there has been a new joint that swells up each time I've had a child. With my first, it was just my left knee. With my second, it was my left and right knees. And now, with my third, it is my left and right knees and my right thumb joint as well. I am beginning to wonder if it is hormonal or having to do with a deficiency of some sort. Good luck figuring this one out. If you do, let me know, and visa-versa.
    sunnyscarlet 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have had this problem intermittently since the early 90's when I was an internal medicine resident. I had my knee thoroughly investigated by one of our rheumatologists and scoped by one of our orthopods--no diagnosis. It went away and came back when I was in practice a few years later and again one of my clinic's rheumatologist looked into it. It went away for a long time, but just recently started up again. I have never had children so it is NOT related to childbirth. It just happens. No pain, just swelling and a lot of limping because one cannot bend the knee. Would really just like a stopcock on my knee to turn on every 13 days to drain it...
    drdrj2 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have the same! It's a ten day cycle - 6 days good, 4 days bad. I have also had MRIs, blood test and x-rays. I do have hypermobility, so I don't know if that's connected. One doctor suggested it could be bits of cartiledge that had broken off and was causing the joint to get inflamed. I guess it could be getting into the joint, causing inflammation, which pushes the bits out for a while? I don't know, racking my brain to think as the doctors seem stumped. I'm 26 and it's a bit young to be giving up all sport and active pursuits!BI have chronic, painless, cyclical knee swelling that occurs about every 11-13 days. It is completely painless but debilitating because I'm unable to bend my knee when it occurs. I have had x-rays, an MRI and blood tests which ruled out RA, Lupus, Lyme and Gout. I have taken NSAIDS and I've been in physical therapy for a month. Still, it swells almost every two weeks and then subsides on its own after about 5 days. Any ideas?
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • September 6, 2009
    • 08:44 PM
    • 0
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  • I have the same! It's a ten day cycle - 6 days good, 4 days bad. I have also had MRIs, blood test and x-rays. I do have hypermobility, so I don't know if that's connected. One doctor suggested it could be bits of cartiledge that had broken off and was causing the joint to get inflamed. I guess it could be getting into the joint, causing inflammation, which pushes the bits out for a while? I don't know, racking my brain to think as the doctors seem stumped. I'm 26 and it's a bit young to be giving up all sport and active pursuits!BAsk your Dr about PVNS. I have had trouble with my knee for four years and after three MRI's and many X-rays my current Ortho Doc found the prob. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigmented_villonodular_synovitis
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • September 14, 2009
    • 08:40 AM
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  • I have had this problem intermittently since the early 90's when I was an internal medicine resident. I had my knee thoroughly investigated by one of our rheumatologists and scoped by one of our orthopods--no diagnosis. It went away and came back when I was in practice a few years later and again one of my clinic's rheumatologist looked into it. It went away for a long time, but just recently started up again. I have never had children so it is NOT related to childbirth. It just happens. No pain, just swelling and a lot of limping because one cannot bend the knee. Would really just like a stopcock on my knee to turn on every 13 days to drain it...I have the same problem. It just started in Aug. 09. I am almost 39 and I have had three children, but it does not seem related. I did bang my knee in early Aug. and I played soccer for 14 years. I wonder if it is damaged in some way. It is scary when it happens because I am still carrying around a baby and I am not as steady on the stairs when this happens. I have not had it checked out but it looks like that won't help. Has anyone had orthoscopic surgery to see if they can see anything?
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • October 3, 2009
    • 03:18 PM
    • 0
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  • Try having your gall bladder tested (best through an acupuncture therapist as traditional "tests" will likely show nothing). Apparentally if not enough bile is released every day to digest...this affects of all things our knee joints and can cause enormous pain. I've been going through it this year...still trying to rule out other things...but it definitely relates to an ever expanding tummy too. Best regards
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • November 14, 2009
    • 00:31 AM
    • 0
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  • I have the exact same problem. My knees began swelling when i was 17. Not much pain at all, just a lot of stiffness and debilitation. It disappeared after 7 months (just as mysteriously as it came). I am now 24 and have spent my last 7 years being extremely active without any problems, until recently. My knees swelled up again just like before, little pain but mostly just making it difficult to move around due to stiffness. I've had x-rays, MRI's, blood tests...everything reads that i am fine, yet the swelling continues. I hope that it disappears again because every doctor i have seen doesn't have any conclusive answers. If you or anyone else has found anything insightful to this subject, please let me know...it would be greatly appreciated. Of course, i will post the same if I find anything that could be helpful for anyone with the same issue. I have had this problem intermittently since the early 90's when I was an internal medicine resident. I had my knee thoroughly investigated by one of our rheumatologists and scoped by one of our orthopods--no diagnosis. It went away and came back when I was in practice a few years later and again one of my clinic's rheumatologist looked into it. It went away for a long time, but just recently started up again. I have never had children so it is NOT related to childbirth. It just happens. No pain, just swelling and a lot of limping because one cannot bend the knee. Would really just like a stopcock on my knee to turn on every 13 days to drain it...
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • December 16, 2009
    • 11:30 PM
    • 0
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  • This is so good to see that I am not the only one with this problem!!! I've been told I defy science etc and have had blood tests. Not RA. Having bowen therapy at the moment, sometimes helps, other times makes it worse. Started when my second baby born...8 weeks affter birth swelling in left knee first then a week later the right also. Very debilating and problem with the stairs when carrying a baby. Lasted ten months and disappeared. Occurred again when 3rd baby was 8 weeks old and same time span and pattern. Happened again 2 years later (no other baby) out of the blue...and suffering at the moment. Don't know the triggers...taking ibufrofen daily, huge swelling daily. Muscle on the neck also seem to be affected this time. I really don't know what to do. Tried homeopathy the second time it occurred and it shortened the time span by maybe a month! Not sure if it was the treatment or would have happened anyway. Under alot of stress at the moment, and wonder if it is related. Don't want to suffer with this for the next 8 months......any one any other ideas?
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • August 25, 2010
    • 00:51 PM
    • 0
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  • I have the exact same knee swelling. Every 10 days exactly. Day 1 is slow swelling, I can feel the fluid building up. The 2nd day is debilitating. The 3rd day the swelling starts to subside and by the 4th and 5th days I am able to bend my knee again without difficulty. I have had the fluid drained by my rheumatologist on day 3 (almost 4 viles of fluid) and I am instantly better. No explanation other than I have lupus. I am 39 and I have had lupus since I was 19 with only slight problems with joint pain- never swollen joints. My doctor's response is: this is just the lupus. I don't buy it. The cyclical reoccurrence is just too weird. I was thinking it was stress with me as well, but let's face it, I am not stressed exactly every 10 days for the last 3 months...I can now write on a calendar when I will have a flare up and limit my activity accordingly. I do not want to spend the rest of my life like this, so I am really looking for an answer as well. I had two children in my mid-twenties and I can't make a connection with that. But I know hormonally a lot of things are going on around age 40 and so that's my next avenue of exploration. It feels so good to know I am not alone!
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • December 19, 2010
    • 00:43 PM
    • 0
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  • Has anyone found a reason recently? I've had this for 15 years. Had yearlong treatment for Lyme. Had two knee surgerys(one each knee)- all they found was scar tissue. Nonstop physical therapy. Only relief I had was last year when I was pregnant.not one occurrence that year...still searching and appreciate any recent new info....
    Hopefor 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • I too have both knees swell up every 12 days or so and have had this pattern for most of the last 15 years. I and 43 now, had one child at 26 and my second child at 31. I had no cyclic swelling during my second pregnancy and I remember thinking how would I make it through if my knees were swollen all the time. Had my gallblader out at age 20. Played lots of sports in my 20's. I have had 4 surgeries on one knee an 3 on the other. About two years ago I had them both scoped to see if cleaning out the loose cartilage would stop all the swelling but I didn't miss one single cycle. I have tried physio, acupuncture, ice, anti imflamatories, rest, exercise, orthovisc type injections, aspiration (temporary fix) and nothing breaks the cycle. I don't have any other health problems. I am intrigued by the other links to pregnancy and gallbladder. Hormonal? I have tracked my periods to see if it has a relationship with the knee swelling cycle but I don't see it. I would give anything for this to end. I relate identically with the previous writers with regard to the impact on their lives. I count how many times I need to get in and out of the car during the two worst days. Not fun. Any more ideas? Someone out there?
    Genagee 2 Replies
    • September 5, 2012
    • 06:03 AM
    • 0
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  • I've had cyclical knee swelling for around 6 years now. It starts to swell day 1, maxes out on day 4, and fine again around day 9 or 10. Then I get 5-6 non-symptomatic days and the cycle starts again. So it is max'd out every 12 days or so. I can almost count on it. It went away for about a year. I had tried an enzyme supplement called Xymative. I swore by it thinking it took it away. But around 9 months ago, the cycle started again. For no apparent reason. I've tried cutting things out of my diet, to no avail. I do have an arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis which all doctors attribute the swelling to. The A.S. was diagnosed from a simple blood test showing the genetic marker HLA-B27. Doctors have told me that there are 2 drugs they would recommend. But I don't like the side effects. And, of course, there's no guarantees. I've been menopausal for around 8 years now (I'm 51) - so I don't think it has anything to do with hormones. Otherwise, I am a healthy adult. I was very active all through high school and college. It gets SO swollen, I swear it will burst open. And there's slight pain associated with it, but more incredible discomfort than anything and only when it's swollen.It appears we're not alone. That makes it a little easier to bear.
    cdngirl 1 Replies
    • September 26, 2012
    • 07:36 PM
    • 0
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  • I get cyclical knee swelling, in the back of my right knee. I've had it ever since my second child was born so for over two years now. I also have a diagnosis of fibromyalgia but despite that having been almost nonexistent for a year my knee continues to swell every two weeks! So I think it's not entirely related. I can time my fertility through my knee swelling which is really odd but could be useful I guess!! It swells two days before I ovulate, then dies away after 3/4 days. Same with menstruation but with that I also get a swelling in the roof of my mouth for a day beforehand! All relatively painless. I think it must be related to autoimmune issues as it seems to come up so frequently with people who have fibro, lupus, etc etc, but it would be good to know any more info if anyone has any. I also wonder if it's worth regulating hormones wih hrt or contraceptive pills to minimise the swings in hormone levels which seem quite clearly linked with the swelling!! Any thoughts?I too have both knees swell up every 12 days or so and have had this pattern for most of the last 15 years. I and 43 now, had one child at 26 and my second child at 31. I had no cyclic swelling during my second pregnancy and I remember thinking how would I make it through if my knees were swollen all the time. Had my gallblader out at age 20. Played lots of sports in my 20's. I have had 4 surgeries on one knee an 3 on the other. About two years ago I had them both scoped to see if cleaning out the loose cartilage would stop all the swelling but I didn't miss one single cycle. I have tried physio, acupuncture, ice, anti imflamatories, rest, exercise, orthovisc type injections, aspiration (temporary fix) and nothing breaks the cycle. I don't have any other health problems. I am intrigued by the other links to pregnancy and gallbladder. Hormonal? I have tracked my periods to see if it has a relationship with the knee swelling cycle but I don't see it. I would give anything for this to end. I relate identically with the previous writers with regard to the impact on their lives. I count how many times I need to get in and out of the car during the two worst days. Not fun. Any more ideas? Someone out there?
    motheroftwo 1 Replies
    • September 30, 2012
    • 09:32 PM
    • 0
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  • My best suggestion would be to see a sports medicine doctor.
    Illumastorm 3 Replies
    • October 8, 2012
    • 08:11 PM
    • 0
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  • Has anyone found a reason recently? I've had this for 15 years. Had yearlong treatment for Lyme. Had two knee surgerys(one each knee)- all they found was scar tissue. Nonstop physical therapy. Only relief I had was last year when I was pregnant.not one occurrence that year...still searching and appreciate any recent new info.... Psoriatic arthritis. This is what the rhumatologist thinks I have. I will know in a few weeks once she has all of my test results. She said it was key when I said I didn't have the swelling when I was pregnant because autoimmune diseases often fade away during this time. Seriously check this out. Do you have psoriasis? Mine is very mild but this is also key. I hope this helps and I will post again in a few weeks.
    Genagee 2 Replies Flag this Response
  • I am also diagnosed with psoriatic arthritus. Had cyclical knee swelling every 7 days since birth of 1st child. At first only in the left knee, but right knee also swells sometimes. Used to coincide with my period/ovulation. I did not have any symptoms when I was pregnant with my 2nd child. Am now in menopause and still have the cyclical swelling. It is less severe now but still debilitating. DMARDs make no difference. Steroids and drainage give temporary relief. Anyone with answers or a cure??
    Anonymous 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • Me too. This has been going on since I was 21. Now I am 45. Episodes have come and gone. specialists seen and everything looks fine, except for swollen knee. Just found this. Its nice because it is rare and benign....
    intermittant hydrartrosis.

    http://apps.elsevier.es/watermark/ctl_servlet?_f=10&pident_articulo=13152111&pident_usuario=0&pcontactid=&pident_revista=373&ty=159&accion=L&origen=reuma&we
    Anonymous 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • I am experiencing this swelling again after having an almost 2 year remission. My swellintg is on the front above the knee. It seems to coincide with my cycle. No fever. Only slightly painful when swelling gets extreme. Had CBC, xrays, etc... Nothing showed up for many yrs then the last time an ANA titer showed up. Still no diagnosis.
    Anonymous 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi there! I have this problem too...And I was very happy to know that I'm not the only one who has it. I'm from Russia, I'm female, I'm 25 years old. I've visited a lot of Russian specialists (starting from orthopaedist and ending by immunologist). I've Passed a lot of analysis....And I still have no diagnosis too...What doctors have you visited? What blood analysis have you passed? Have you tried to sit on a diet? Have you tried folk methods? Have you got any stress while period of swelling?
    IrinA111 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • Any solution yet? My swelling started after knee surgery for torn miniscus. Every other week like clockwork, my knee swells. Have had physical therapy, MRI, Xray, Orthoscopy, Nsaids, and artritis medication, and absolute rest. There's no difference between a heavy sport schedule with squats and cardio vs almost absolute rest and artritis medication for 3 months. Swelling has attacked cartilage in my knee, so I want to stop this thing before all cartilage is gone...
    Anonymous 1 Replies
    • September 9, 2014
    • 08:59 AM
    • 0
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