How Long Should You Ice Your Knee For Tendonitis? | Best Duration According To Science

Written By on October 18, 2022 — Medically Reviewed By Mitch Torres (PT)

Written by on October 18, 2022 — Medically Reviewed By: Mitch Torres (PT)

Applying ice is one of the main treatments for hundreds of knee pain problems. So, how long should you ice your knee for tendonitis?

For acute injuries, go for 10 minutes every couple of hours. That’s enough to bring relief while preventing potential complications from ice therapy. (1)

However, some cases may benefit better from heat therapy instead. Below we’ll discuss why is it so and other strategies that promote healing. Tap any of the topics below to jump into each section:

How often can you use ice for knee tendinitis pain?

Ideally, apply ice for 10 minutes. Repeat this every couple of hours to heal your knee tendonitis injury.

See, tendons are structures that connect muscles to the bones. Their inflammation often happens from repetitive motions that irritate this fibrous tissue over time. (2)

Icing for 10 minute-intervals can easily reduce pain and inflammation, without the risk of causing more harm to your tissues. (1)

Learn more: What happens if you apply ice on your knee for too long?

There are a ton of ways you can make use of ice.

A bag of frozen vegetables can be enough for this knee injury. You can also opt for an ice gel pack, and dipping your leg in a cold tub also helps.

However, the most practical choice is wearing a cold thermal sleeve. This wearable tech provides the benefits of ice while compressing your knee joint, providing even more healing. All this, while you go about your day.

Our recommendation: The Cocoon Knee Flex pro – the best thermal sleeve out there.

Knee Force Knee Sleeve

How about heat – how long should I apply it for tendonitis?

You can use heat for 30 minutes every few hours. But only if it isn’t an acute injury, meaning (3, 4):

  • You’re experiencing chronic pain (tendon-related symptoms for over 6 months).
  • You’ve been icing your knee for two weeks and the inflammation isn’t going away.

Otherwise, it will aggravate inflammation.

See, heat widens blood vessels in the affected area. This results in an increased blood flow, which can lead to pain relief and decreased swelling in chronic stages. But can make symptoms worse in fresh injuries. (4)

With that said, it’s not that hard to do heat therapy.

You can do this with a heating pad or even a hot water bottle on your knee. A warm shower can also help to promote healing by improving blood flow and relaxation.

Thermal knee heating wraps are another convenient and reusable choice for those with persistent joint problems.

What if thermotherapy isn’t enough for knee tendinitis pain?

Some people may need more than just ice or heat to fully recover. So, here are a few things you can do to deal with a stubborn tendon injury:

Rest wisely

Take a few days of rest to lessen the strain on your painful tendon. But if this is hard to do due to work/life constraints, then you can still make it work by taking quick breaks.

Say walking or standing for 30 mins is making your knees hurt. Then take a 2-min break every 10-15 minutes to give your tendons a breather.

It may not seem much, but it’ll do wonders in your overall recovery without sacrificing a lot of your activities.

Wear a patellar strap brace

person tightening their patellar strap brace over their knee.

Several braces can help with knee tendonitis. But, a strap applies targeted pressure on the patellar tendon, which can be particularly beneficial for knee tendinitis pain.

Studies suggest knee straps also limit tendon strain and improve knee awareness. (5)

Learn more: What does a knee strap do for tendinitis?

Get a deep-tissue massage

This massage technique helps stimulate collagen production to promote tendon healing. It may also reduce pain and improve mobility. (6)

We recommend getting this done with a licensed massage therapist. But, you can try it at home by gently rubbing your knee tendon with oil.

Go to physical therapy

If you want to know why your tendon started hurting, then you should consult a physical therapist (PT).

As experts in injuries like tendinitis, PTs give helpful treatments like:

  • Strengthening and stretching to improve tendon resiliency.
  • Gait training to correct any walking abnormalities.
  • Personalized treatment strategies to continue your healing at home.

Related: Best exercises used to heal patellar tendonitis.


What is the fastest way to heal tendonitis in the knee?

The fastest way to heal tendonitis in the knee is to rest and apply an ice pack right away. Getting it checked by a doctor or physio also helps tremendously.

How long should you ice an inflamed knee?

You should ice an inflamed knee for 10 minutes, every one or two hours.

How many days should I ice my knee?

You should ice your knee for a couple of days to let the pain and swelling subside. If symptoms persist, switch on using heat.

Knee Force Knee Sleeve

Conclusion: Heat or ice for tendonitis in the knee

Both ice and heat therapy can help knee tendonitis, but this will depend on how long you’ve had the injury. If it’s recent ice will be your best bet, while heat will promote recovery if you have chronic tendon pain.

However, don’t forget to rest and get your knee checked by a physical therapist. This will help you relieve pain in no time.


  1. Kuo, Chia-Chi et al. “Comparing the antiswelling and analgesic effects of three different ice pack therapy durations: a randomized controlled trial on cases with soft tissue injuries.” The journal of nursing research: JNR vol. 21,3 (2013): 186-94. DOI: 10.1097/jnr.0b013e3182a0af12
  2. Charnoff J, Ponnarasu S, Naqvi U. Tendinosis. [Updated 2022 May 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  3. Malanga, Gerard A et al. “Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury.” Postgraduate medicine vol. 127,1 (2015): 57-65. DOI: 10.1080/00325481.2015.992719
  4. B.J., Behrens. Physical Agents Theory and Practice 2Ed (Pb 2006). 0 ed., F.A. Davis, 2022.
  5. de Vries, A et al. “Effect of patellar strap and sports tape on pain in patellar tendinopathy: A randomized controlled trial.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports vol. 26,10 (2016): 1217-24. DOI: 10.1111/sms.12556
  6. Bass, Evelyn. “Tendinopathy: why the difference between tendinitis and tendinosis matters.” International journal of therapeutic massage & bodywork vol. 5,1 (2012): 14-7. doi: 10.3822/ijtmb.v5i1.153
Paolo Sarmiento (PT)
Paolo is a physical therapist, educator and fitness enthusiast. He shares his knowledge and experience in helping people deal with health issues, especially with the knee. As health-conscious as he can be, he enjoys long bicycle rides, early morning runs, and a good slice of pizza with extra pepperoni.