If you want to relieve knee pain, there are many things you can do. Everything from exercise and weight loss to controlling your diet have noticeable effects on the long-term health of your knees and help relieve knee pain.
Keep in mind that this list of home remedies cannot fix a major medical emergency. If a tendon has been torn and you experienced significant trauma to the muscle or cartilage in your knee, you should seek the help of a medical professional.
For all other chronic problems, consider these 12 home remedies for knee pain.
Regular exercise is a proven method of both preventing chronic pain and relieving existing chronic pain with conditions like osteoarthritis. (one)
Exercise prevents and helps chronic knee pain by strengthening the muscles around the knee and improving the health of the cartilage under the kneecap. As the muscles around the knee strengthen, the knee stabilizes and the patella itself can properly follow through the patella. Additionally, exercise forces excessive fluid accumulation around the joint. This helps with stiffness and swelling of the joints. Consider the following common causes of knee pain and how exercise mitigates those problems:
- Unstable knee joint: mitigated by strengthening the surrounding muscle.
- Patella being incorrectly tracked through the kneecap - mitigated by strengthening the surrounding muscle.
- Worn cartilage under the kneecap - mitigated as blood circulates through the joint and pumps settled fluid.
A regular exercise routine is one of the best things you can do for the health of your knees.
Believe it or not, the way you sit in your chair makes a difference in the health of your knees. The three most common leg positions to avoid when sitting are as follows:
- The legs withdrew under the chair.
- Sitting cross-legged.
- Sitting standing up.
It is best to sit with your legs stretched out in front of you, with your knees unlocked.
Obesity is an important predictor of chronic pain. Subsequently, research has shown that a credible weight loss program will improve knee health and offset chronic pain. Less weight on the knees will lead to a reduction in stress on the knee joint.
In a study conducted in North Carolina, a loss of even 5% of body weight in obese adults experiencing chronic pain was found to cause less pain. The recommended amount of weight loss, from the study, was 10%. (3)
Eat healthy food
Any pain in the body, especially pain in the knees, is caused by inflammation. Certain foods cause inflammation, while other foods are anti-inflammatory in nature. Therefore, you should avoid excessive amounts of inflammatory foods and consume anti-inflammatory foods. (4)
Inflammatory foods to avoid include:
- Added sugars in processed foods.
- Refined grains, such as white rice and white bread.
- Fatty acids.
- High-fat red meats, such as beef.
Anti-inflammatory foods to consume:
- Unsaturated fats.
- Low-fat meats, such as chicken.
Adjusting your diet to whole foods will not only bring these anti-inflammatory benefits to your knees, it will help you lose weight.
There are several over-the-counter medications that you can take to relieve knee pain. However, keep in mind that medications are NOT a solution for chronic pain. The medicine temporarily relieves symptoms, rather than correcting the root cause of the problem.
Common medications to take are Tylenol, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. The differences between the drugs are slight, usually based on the overall strength of the effect, but they all do the same basic thing. All reduce inflammation.
If you're not a fan of taking oral medications, capsaicin cream can help. Capsaicin cream works differently than other medications in that it blocks the chemical that sends pain messages to the brain, rather than reducing inflammation.
Massage therapy of the knee, particularly the quadriceps muscles, has been shown to be effective in improving knee health. (5)
You can perform massage therapy at home. Simply grab the heel of your hand, place it at the base of the quadriceps muscle (the group of muscles located around the top of the kneecap), and move it back and forth while applying pressure. Make sure to thoroughly massage the inner and outer parts of the quadriceps muscles.
The use of natural oils, also known as aromatherapy, reduces inflammation, stiffness, and pain. It does not fix the underlying causes of inflammation or pain, but it does relieve knee pain. (6)
The following is a list of the natural oils used to treat knee pain.
- Evening primrose
All of these natural oils contain anti-inflammatory properties. As you apply the natural oil around the knee joint, the oil is absorbed into the affected skin and muscles and tendons. A reduction in swelling around the knee will relieve stiffness and improve mobility temporarily.
If you are not familiar with the acronym, RICE, it stands for: rest, ice, compression, elevation.
The RICE method is one of the oldest methods of treating any type of injury. If your pain is the result of a sports-related injury, then RICE is where you should start. (7)
Rest allows the injured tendons, ligaments, and muscles around the knee to heal. Ice freezes the muscles and tendons, which stops inflammation. Compression and elevation restrict excessive blood flow to the area temporarily, which would exaggerate pain symptoms.
Hot and cold
Heat and cold are applied at different times to treat knee pain. It changes depending on whether your pain is chronic or a temporary injury, and how far along you are in the recovery process.
If treating knee pain from injury, cold should be applied immediately after the incident. The cold will stop the inflammation process, providing a buffer for tendon and muscle recovery. Heat should be applied a couple of days after the initial injury, to allow the blood to provide the necessary nutrients for a quick recovery.
Chronic knee pain
When treating chronic pain, ice is best directly before and directly after physical activity. This will reduce inflammation, which will improve flexibility and improve mobility.
If you are in the process of exercising to improve chronic pain, it may be helpful to apply heat to the area around your knee a few hours after training to speed up the recovery process from your workout.
Compression Sleeves / Knee Pads
Compression sleeves and knee pads serve different functions. These devices apply light pressure around the joint to trap body heat. Essentially, a compression sleeve is like tying a low-grade leg warmer.
A knee brace applies pressure to the knee to provide stability to the joint and additional support to the muscles and tendons.
A compression sleeve should be worn for a few hours during the day to provide heat therapy to the knee, which can be beneficial in relieving knee pain.
A knee brace should be worn during physical activity, particularly in the case of a sports-related injury. It will provide additional support to the injured muscle or tendon, while taking primary responsibility for stabilizing the knee.
Stretching and rolling has long been an excellent method of relieving pain in tired and aching muscles, which can affect knee health. However, there is a proper stretching method that must be adhered to.
Avoid cold stretching. Cold stretching is trying static stretches before warming up a muscle. Cold stretching forces elongation of the muscle fiber, rather than opening the muscle to increase blood flow.
Use an active stretching warm-up. An active stretching warm-up would be lunges or sitting at the bottom of the squat.
After an active warm-up, dive into a round of static stretches.
Tai Chi is a form of Chinese meditation that combines meditation with slow, continuous movements.
A study conducted in Boston found that Tai Chi has all the benefits of physical therapy, with some additional improvements over physical therapy. While physical therapy had shown a significant reduction in chronic pain for about a year, Tai Chi showed that it continued to progress beyond a single year. Also, the Tai Chi participants experienced a reduction in other things like depression and anxiety.
If you don't have the time or money to sign up for a lengthy physical therapy treatment process, Tai Chi may be a suitable alternative.