Measuring swelling

Does anyone have a reliable method of measuring knee swelling? It’s so hard to judge visually when they are going up and down in size all the time. I’ve tried tape measures but can’t seem to place them in the same place each time or get them completely straight around the circumference. Any ideas welcome!

Sorry, no suggestions here. But I’m wondering why you want to measure, as opposed to just taking note that there’s swelling. Is the goal to measure improvement?

I want to measure whether certain activities make the swelling worse so I know what to avoid. I quite often have some swelling which goes up and down so I want to know what causes the most swelling.

Okay. I guess I’ve never found a really tight relationship between swelling and activities. But there are activities that I avoid because of pain.

Yes I’ve never found any relation between my activities or any swelling, the only relationship I can see is one between this disease’s activity and swelling, as in if I sit too long on a chair my ankles can swell more than if I don’t. But they usually only swell when I’ve increased pain which to me means the swelling is when this disease decides to be more inflamed. So I look for swelling when I feel more pain rather than checking what I’m doing.

Thanks for the replies. Normally I would agree that my swelling neither links with activity nor particularly with pain. However I recently did a Pilates class for the first time and found increased knee swelling afterwards so wanted to track whether there was a particular Pilates movement that caused it.

That may be very hard to isolate unless you did one move and exactly one move during each session. If you’re doing multiple moves in a session then you can’t tell which one might be causing increased pain and swelling.

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I’m thinking that increased swelling with exercise may not be significant PsA-wise … assuming of course that it goes down fairly soon afterwards.

The reason I say this is that swelling from disease activity seems to be long-lasting and unlikely to subside much with elevation, ice etc., though those measures may help with pain. That’s my experience with knees, anyway.

If I’m right then temporary swelling from ‘over-use’ might be due to damage that has already occurred. In which case it would be localised rather than due to disease activity as such.

If your knees are compromised by very active PsA, damage from PsA or from OA, then avoid any twisting movements like the plague! The knee joint is a hinge, it is not designed to swivel.

Thanks Sybil,
I agree; I think it’s the OA that causes the swelling at Pilates rather than PsA. Important is that the swelling from OA isn’t damaging the joint the way that PsA swelling is, so as long as I can put up with the pain, it’s probably better overall to continue with Pilates

I think perhaps you should be a little cautious … I’m all for prioritising movement and not being overly cautious, but I suppose the thing that might be a little concerning is that you describe the knee swelling ‘going up and down in size all the time’.

My knees were very swollen for a couple of years, it was disabling and extremely painful. At that point the disease was severe. However, prior to that the swelling wasn’t so bad and I didn’t feel ill (or know that I was).

So after a bit more thought, I suppose what I’m saying is that if your PsA is under good control and you & your rheumy are happy with how things are going, then intermittent swelling might not be significant or problematic.

But … if knee joints have never been badly swollen from PsA, there’s the risk that they are considering joining the PsA party & giving out some warning signs. And if they have been affected by PsA before, there might be a chance that that is happening again.

Don’t sound quite so blasé now do I? But yeah, after thinking about it I realised that perhaps you should keep a close eye on this and think about how it relates to how well the PsA is controlled.