Article Last Updated: April 1, 2020
Knee pain is a condition that nearly everyone encounters during some point in their life.
People with physically demanding jobs, such as athletes, construction workers, and firemen, are more prone to knee-related injuries because of this.
In contrast, those who are less physically active can be just as likely to experience knee pain, due to things like arthritis or simply because of old age.
When it comes to treating knee pain, it all depends on the extent of the problem, and what specifically is causing the discomfort.
Whether it’s a long-term problem you’ve been dealing with for years or a recent injury you’ve had, knee pain can pose as a huge distraction from everyday activities.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s in both knees or just one. Knee pain will limit your physical abilities.
So, here are some simple and effective ways that can help you deal with, and even eradicate, knee pain.
12 Best Treatment for Knee Pain
Try the Hot and Cold Therapy
Adjusting the temperature of the knee, otherwise known as ‘hot and cold therapy’, can be an efficient way of treating knee pain.
For example, an ice pack (or it can be a bag of frozen food) can add a numbing effect to the area. It can also reduce inflammation and stiffness, in order to help with things such as arthritis.
Not only this, but it can also help reduce any swelling, bringing the knee back to its normal size.
When it comes to applying heat, this should never be done to a joint that already feels hot, inflamed, or irritated. Heat is better at helping muscles relax, rather than reducing swelling.
When exploring any type of hot or cold therapy, always be careful, as raising or lowering the temperature of the skin too much can lead to skin damage and soreness.
In order to make the knee more stable, it’s a good idea to strengthen the muscles that surround it. Doctors and physicians often recommend various strength exercises and stretches based on specific issues that cause you pain.
For example, if you’re regularly physically active, whether that’s due to your job or your hobbies, exercising in order to correct movement patterns, and even increasing flexibility, can have a huge impact on knee pain.
In specific circumstances, things like braces or arch supports can help shift pressure off the part of the knee that experiences most of the pain and discomfort.
Protect Your Knee
Protection mainly refers to preventing the knee from experiencing any further injury, so rest is an underrated method of protection. It gives the body time to heal while reducing the chance of further injury.
Having said this, it’s a smart idea to keep some movement going in the joint, just to avoid any stiffness or muscle weakness that may arise because of this.
As well as rest, elevation, compression, and ice can all aid in preventing pain, especially when it comes to things like sprains or other soft tissue injuries.
Elevation – i.e. keeping the leg above ground level – reduces swelling and encourages circulation. For this to be most effective, the knee should be placed above the level of the heart.
Compression is a way of increasing comfort for the knee. Whatever is used to provide this compression should be firm without being too tight, as this may make the knee pain worse.
Ice is known for reducing swelling and inflammation. If used, it’s best to apply it in 20-minute intervals straight after the injury occurs.
Make sure to wrap it in a suitable material, as putting ice directly on the skin can lead to further damage.
Inject Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid, a similar fluid to the one that naturally lubricates the joints, can be injected into the knee and is known to ease pain whilst improving mobility.
However, the results of this kind of treatment have been inconsistent, but some patients have noted relief lasting for up to six months.
In rare cases, it may also be recommended by a doctor or other medical professional to inject corticosteroid.
This is a drug that has been known to reduce the symptoms of arthritis flare whilst providing a moderate amount of pain relief. But injections like this don’t always yield the same results.
Another recommended injection treatment is platelet-rich plasma, otherwise known as PRP.
Made up of various different growth factors that promote healing, whilst reducing inflammation, injections like these are known to have a greater effect on those who suffer from tendon tears or sprains.
Lose a Few Pounds
Various studies show that people who are overweight are much more likely to suffer from health issues like osteoarthritis, in comparison to people who aren’t overweight.
Not only this but obese people, those with a BMI higher than 30, have a higher chance of getting arthritis in their knees.
This is because knees often hold the majority of our body’s weight, so an increase in size and weight leads to an increase of pressure on the knees. Gaining ten pounds is said to be the equivalent of four times that weight on the knee’s joint.
So, it goes without saying, losing weight can have a great effect on decreasing the pressure on the knee and reducing the risk of knee pain or injury.
Running through trails and country pathways may seem exciting for some, but it also holds a higher risk of injury than running on a flat surface, with things like twisted ankles or even falls being a regular occurrence to some runners.
Having said that, running on roads can have a jarring effect on the knees over time, leading to long-term damage. A much safer way of running, or exercising in general, is on a running track or even a treadmill.
Though perhaps not as exciting, this is a more controlled environment with a more predictable impact on the body.
As cycling is a low-impact sport, it doesn’t pose as much of a risk for the knees, but using a stationary or ‘spinning’ bike has the potential to cause problems if the resistance is too high, or the saddle positions not appropriate.
If you cycle outdoors, whether on roads or trails, getting your bike professionally adjusted is a great way to ensure this doesn’t happen.
As we get older, most people end up doing less physical activities. They lose muscle mass and its strength depreciates, which in turn increases the risk of injury and strains.
Whatever kind of physical activities you do – whether with your job or in your spare time – the most important thing to remember is to make sure you warm up beforehand.
Depending on the extent of your injury, things like injections and supports might be nothing more than a short-term solution to you. You may require something more severe, like surgery or an operation.
Before taking this step, it’s essential to bear in mind the pros and cons when it comes to surgery, especially in comparison to other forms of treatment.
Having said this, knee surgery isn’t limited to a one-size-fits-all system, and there are various options to choose from if you go down this route.
Arthroscopic surgery might be the right route for you, as depending on the extent of your injury, a doctor can use long, narrow tools – aided with a fiber-optic camera to provide visuals – in order to examine and repair the damage caused.
By creating small incisions around the knee, this method is able to repair damaged cartilage and reconstruct torn ligaments surrounding the knee.
In some cases, it may even remove damaged parts of the knee that are no longer providing their usual function.
Another option is partial knee replacement surgery, wherein the portion of the knee with the most damage is replaced with artificial parts that are constructed with metal and plastic.
This type of surgery is usually performed through small incisions to minimize the healing time.
If the damage caused can’t be fixed by either of these methods, then it might be worth considering a total knee replacement.
In a total knee replacement, the damaged bone and cartilage is cut away from the kneecap, as well as the thigh bone and shinbone, replacing it with an artificial joint constructed again of suitable metal and plastics.
Wear the Right Shoes
One thing many people fail to pay attention to is the type of shoes they’re wearing, and the effect it has on their joints and movement.
Having supportive shoes, sandals, or boots will allow you to maintain balance and have proper knee alignment, all while letting your foot take on a more natural movement as you walk.
From trainers, casual shoes, or high heels, picking the correct shoe for you is crucial, as, whatever lifestyle you do, you’re bound to spend a lot of your life wearing them.
But this isn’t just down to the shoes. Cushioned or adaptive insoles can also help, as they reduce stress on your knees. These are often recommended by doctors for their prominent effects.
All in all, wearing inappropriate or substandard footwear is an easy way to lead to pain or even long-term injury. And because no-one’s feet are the same, make sure to choose what works best for you, rather than going with what everyone else goes for.
Don’t Take a Lot of Rest
Despite ample rest is a key factor in aiding muscle recovery, having too much rest can actually cause the muscle to weaken and increase joint pain. Weird, right?
Although allowing your muscles time to recover is important, it’s also crucial to keep them moving after a few days, just to engage the muscles and stop the joints from stiffening up.
If not engaged at all, a muscle can lose between 3 and 5% of strength daily, and half its strength within a few weeks.
Although using the muscles again can help get the strength back, it takes a longer amount of time to do this.
So, as things start to heal up, try to keep the blood flow going by easing a bit of movement.
Take Advantage of Supplements
Supplements can be a good way to relieve joint pain, along with other symptoms. However, they’re not always too well-researched, with proof that they work often coming only from small, controlled studies.
In fact, most supplements aren’t actually regulated by the FDA, while specific drugs and medications are. This means that manufacturers don’t actually have to provide proof that what they’re providing is effective, or even safe to use.
So, when considering taking supplements, it’s essential to decide for yourself whether it’s something for you, and whether any potential side effects are worth the advantages it may provide.
Rather than going with what the advertisers of the supplement say, it’s best to find out yourself by tracking any supplements you take, and noting your symptoms, as well as any improvements or changes that occur.
Although studies don’t support the idea that colder temperatures can worsen joint pain, some people have the opinion that it does, as higher temperatures can be easier on the body in general.
Not only this, but in warmer temperatures it’s often easier to have a more active lifestyle, therefore reducing the psychological effects of such pain.
An example of this can be seen in a study conducted in 2014, where researchers discovered that it was sensitivity to the weather in people suffering from osteoarthritis, rather than the weather itself, that affected people’s experience with joint pain.
Having said this, when doing a study based on people from Southern Europe, those with higher levels of anxiety were more likely to experience weather sensitivity, therefore making them more likely to experience pain. This was particularly prominent during cold or rainy weather.
Despite these findings, the actual results of this study failed to support the idea that pain was actually worsened in colder climates.
Consult with a Doctor
Seeing a medical professional in order to gather their opinions is often the best thing to do when experiencing any sort of pain.
As well as giving you specific exercises to do – ones they’ve learned over a long experience-filled career – they may also refer you to another medical professional such as a physical therapist, or advise you on what medications and techniques will and won’t work for your specific situation.
A recent study concluded that, when it came to improving range of motion and reducing pain, physical therapy can help you just as much as knee surgery can.
Although a third of all patients in this study did go on to get knee surgery, the physical therapy they received was definitely a good option to start with.
In conclusion, the most effective method of dealing with knee pain is getting a professional opinion from a doctor, and using the treatment they recommend.
And when it comes to joints that are warm, tender, or even swollen, if any home remedies don’t work, then you may have a more serious medical condition that requires an equally-severe treatment.
Whatever it is, doctors can provide prescribed medication that can help fight the pain itsel