Tea Tree Oil For Knee Pain | It Works, But In Certain Conditions

Written By on July 26, 2022 — Medically Reviewed By Mitch Torres (PT)

Essential oils are all the rage nowadays. There’s tons of information out there claiming they can work for thousands of ailments. So today, we’ll review what evidence has to say about using tea tree oil for knee pain.

This particular oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that may help in knee pain caused by certain infections. But it’s not a practical option for most joint problems, as it only works at a skin level.

Yet, it can be helpful in certain situations – we’ll discuss them below. Here are the topics covered, tap on any of them to go straight to its section:

When can tea tree oil help knee pain?

Tea tree oil is best known for its antibacterial and antiseptic activity, with current research backing this up. It can indeed kill certain types of bacteria. (1, 2)

This property can be extremely beneficial when an open wound causes septic arthritis. This type of joint inflammation happens because a bacteria or virus entered the joint through the injury, infecting the tissue. (3)

But using tea tree oil on the wound could help kill the bacteria and manage the infection. This in turn can reduce the pain derived from inflammation.

WARNING: In case of infection, it’s always best to go to the doctor to get it treated. Septic arthritis can be life-threatening if not treated properly.

3 Ways to use tree oil for knee pain

If you want to use tea tree oil to aid your knee pain, you can do so but topically. You should never ingest it – it’s poisonous.

With that said, here are some safe ways you can use tea tree oils to help your knee pain:

1) As a knee massage oil

It can be used to gently massage the affected area. But, don’t apply pure tea tree oil directly onto the skin, as it can cause irritation. Always dilute it with a carrier oil, such as:

  • Olive oil.
  • Lavender oil.
  • Coconut oil.
  • Almond oil.
  • Peppermint oil.
  • Ginger oil.

A good ratio is combining 15-20 drops of tea tree oil with 2 tablespoons of carrier oil. Pour this mixture into a dark bottle to preserve it.

Another option: CBD oil – you can use it directly on your knee!

2) In your bath

You can add a few drops of tea tree oil into a tub of warm water and soak your knees. This is a great way to alleviate knee pain derived from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, as the heat itself will relax your tissues and promote relief.

Related: Heat or cold for arthritic knees – which is superior?

3) As aromatherapy

Place a few drops of the oil into a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam, or add it into your diffuser to use it as aromatherapy.

Related: What about homeopathy for knee pain?

Risks and side effects of tea tree oil

Although uncommon, the topical use of tea tree oil can cause these side effects (4):

  • Skin irritation if it’s used without diluting.
  • Increased sun sensitivity (but this is true for any essential oil).

Other natural options that help with knee pain

Some other oils and compounds can help with knee pain. The most commonly used include:

Turmeric

Curcumin found in turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Several studies have shown its effects on inflammation and pain, which are comparable to ibuprofen or diclofenac. (5)

Although commonly taken as an oral supplement, turmeric can be used as a topical cream. A study with knee osteoarthritis patients showed significant symptom improvement after applying an ointment with 5% curcumin, twice daily for six weeks. (6)

Learn more: All about curcumin for knee pain – benefits, dosage, risks, and more!

Eucalyptus oil

This is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter creams due to its pain-relieving effects.

Research suggests that several compounds present in eucalyptus oil can reduce inflammation and ease joint pain. The best part is that it can also provide benefits if used in aromatherapy. (7)

For example, a study showed that smelling the oil for 30 minutes for 3 days reduced pain and inflammation in patients who underwent a total knee replacement. (7)

Other therapies for knee pain

Knee pain can be a chronic and debilitating condition that can benefit from several types of treatments. The most effective include:

FAQs

Is tea tree oil good for pain relief?

Tea tree oil may help with pain, but if it’s because of an infection. It’s not an effective or practical option for long-term relief.

Can I use tea tree oil during pregnancy?

It’s not recommended to use tea tree oil during pregnancy because of the increased risk of skin irritation.

Conclusion: Using tea tree oil for knee pain

Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects that can help relieve pain in the joints. There is however limited evidence to back this claim, and more human research is required.

Nevertheless, it can be a complementary treatment option for those seeking to ease their knee pain more naturally.

Resources

  1. Carson, C F et al. “Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties.” Clinical microbiology reviews vol. 19,1 (2006): 50-62. doi:10.1128/CMR.19.1.50-62.2006
  2. Cox, S D et al. “The mode of antimicrobial action of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil).” Journal of applied microbiology vol. 88,1 (2000): 170-5.doi:10.1046/j.1365-2672.2000.00943.x
  3. Earwood, John Scott et al. “Septic Arthritis: Diagnosis and Treatment.” American family physician vol. 104,6 (2021): 589-597.
  4. Hammer, K A et al. “A review of the toxicity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil.” Food and chemical toxicology: an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association vol. 44,5 (2006): 616-25. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2005.09.001
  5. Daily, James W et al. “Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials.” Journal of medicinal food vol. 19,8 (2016): 717-29. DOI: 10.1089/jmf.2016.3705
  6. Jamali, Neda et al. “The effect of curcumin ointment on knee pain in older adults with osteoarthritis: a randomized placebo trial.”BMC complementary medicine and therapies vol. 20,1 305. 8 Oct. 2020, doi:10.1186/s12906-020-03105-0
  7. Jun, Yang Suk et al. “Effect of eucalyptus oil inhalation on pain and inflammatory responses after total knee replacement: a randomized clinical trial.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2013 (2013): 502727.doi:10.1155/2013/502727

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Author
Sony Sherpa (MD)
Sony Sherpa is a board-certified clinical doctor and currently, she is working as a medical officer in the emergency department of a renowned hospital. With a medical degree completed at a young age, she writes medical articles with accuracy owing to her medical knowledge and thorough background research.

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