Everybody knows chicken soup is a great home remedy for the common cold, but what about if you have knee pain? Are there at-home remedies for knee pain relief too? Yes! And most DIY knee pain remedies are easy enough for just about anyone to tackle. Of course, like any type of pain, the remedy you use will depend on what’s causing your pain. Here’s what you need to know about choosing and using a knee pain remedy at home.
Can I use a home remedy for my knee pain?
That’s the big question, and the answer is — maybe. Some types of knee pain, like a mild muscle strain or minor arthritis issues, tend to be good candidates for at-home treatment. But other problems, like torn ligaments or kneecap instability, need professional care you can only get with a skilled orthopedist like Dr. Van Thiel. In those more severe problems, delaying medical treatment can wind up making your problem a lot worse.
But say your problem can be treated with a home remedy for knee pain. In that case, you have a few options.
Use the RICE Method
RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation, and it’s a common treatment for soft tissue injuries. Rest gives your knee time to heal. You don’t want to completely eliminate movement; that can actually make your pain worse. But some amount of rest and activity modification can be very helpful. Icing your knee and applying compression help reduce inflammation. Compression also provides added support and stability for the joint. And elevation can help relieve swelling and improve circulation.
Try Over-the-counter Pain Medication
Knee pain and inflammation seem to go hand in hand. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naproxen, are designed to relieve both pain and inflammation. They can be effective for many types of knee pain, including pain related to arthritis and overuse. NSAIDs work by suppressing certain enzymes that contribute to pain and inflammation. They are widely considered to be an effective non-opioid pain reliever, with many readily available over-the-counter. Pain medicine is often used with other home remedies to maximize their effects.
Get Daily Exercise
Gentle exercise helps keep your knees flexible so they don’t become stiff. It also helps strengthen muscles and other tissues so your knees get the support they need. Plus, movement helps to reduce inflammation and swelling while promoting circulation. The key is to start slowly and stop if you experience more pain, the goal is to reduce discomfort and overworking a sensitive joint may cause more harm than good. Low-impact exercises like swimming can be especially beneficial, as it helps to eliminate the shock to the joint while still providing the benefits of vigorous exercise. Check out the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website for a list of exercises designed to relieve knee pain, including knee pain after surgery.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Hot and cold can work together to help relieve many kinds of knee pain. Heat works to relax muscles and stimulate circulation by encouraging the blood vessels to widen which increases overall blood flow. Cold helps reduce inflammation and pain by doing the opposite, restricting blood vessels and reducing blood flow to an area. In hot and cold therapy, heat and cold are applied alternately. For heat, try a heating pad or hot water bottle. Check it first to make sure it’s not too hot. Ice wrapped in a cloth is a good source of cold, while there are also ready made ice packs designed for just this type of application. Apply ice for no more than 20 minutes at a time to reduce the possibility of any unintended nerve injuries.
Enjoy a Relaxing Massage
Massage is a great option for pain involving muscles and other soft tissues, and it can also aid in relieving arthritis pain. The gentle movements of massage relieve inflammation and improve circulation for faster healing. The American Massage Therapy Association recommends this approach for knee pain:
- Tap your thighs gently with closed hands to stimulate circulation.
- Use long, deep, gliding strokes on the front and sides of your thigh to relax and lengthen muscles.
- Use your fingers to gently press into and massage the tissue around the knee.
- End with long, gliding strokes over the top of the thigh and knee, then back up the outer thigh.
There’s one more home remedy, but it takes awhile to see its benefits: weight loss. If you’re carrying extra pounds (and lots of us are), that’s a lot of extra strain on your knee joints. with every step you take, there’s added force and pressure on the joint. Losing excess weight can take that strain off your knees (and it can provide a lot of other health benefits, too).
Find Relief for Your Knee Pain
Bottom line: Knee pain is not normal.
A medical evaluation with Dr. Van Thiel is the only way to know if your pain can be treated with home remedies or if you need professional orthopedic treatment. As a top provider of knee pain treatment in Rockford and Crystal Lake, Dr. Van Thiel will make sure your sore knees get the right treatment for quick and long-lasting pain relief. To schedule a knee evaluation, call the office at (815) 398-9491 or schedule an appointment online.
Dr. Van Thiel treats patients from all over Wisconsin and Illinois including Rockford, Elgin, Huntley, Dekalb, Crystal Lake, Barrington, McHenry, and Beloit.