Learning how to treat knee pain from basketball will prevent injuries from worsening. And luckily, most remedies won’t cost a fortune.
You might be familiar with some of them – like rest, ice, and pain medications. But you may need something more specific according to your symptoms.
We’ll talk more about these treatments and how they work for pain relief. Tap on each of the links to navigate to its section:
8 ways to treat knee pain from playing basketball
Get your much-needed pain relief by trying any of the following remedies:
1) Rest for a few days
Being in pain could mean you’re going beyond your physical limit. Start by taking a few days off to give your knee joint time to recover from all the hard work you’ve put in.
And please, don’t worry about losing your gains. Some rest won’t set you back, on the contrary – it will help you recharge and train more effectively next time.
During these days, you can do light joint-friendly activities, like walking or cycling, to still stay active without taxing your body as much.
2) Apply ice on your knee joint
Ice can reduce pain by blocking pain signals and leaving a comforting numbness on your knee. (1)
To get the most out of each application, set your timer for 10 minutes – more than that may not be necessary and increases your risk of complications from ice therapy.
Keep reading: Why should you ice your knees after playing basketball?
3) Take anti-inflammatory medications
This can be a fast-acting solution for those persistent types of knee pain. The most common ones are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
These drugs ease symptoms by blocking the chemicals that produce inflammation. (2) Whileothers work by blocking pain signals.
Over-the-counter NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, are great for minor knee discomfort. But if you need a stronger dose, a prescription from your doctor is typically required before purchase.
Learn more: What to take for knee pain?
4) Try CBD supplements
This can be a natural pain relief option if it’s legal in your country.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. It can ease pain, help with anxiety, and promote sleep without a “high” feeling. (3) You can consume it in oil form, edibles, and pills.
Interested? Check our full guide on CBD for knee pain.
5) Wear a knee brace
A knee brace adds stability and reduces the pressure in your knee, reducing discomfort and boosting performance.
There are several designs available, though. The best one for you will depend on your needs and what’s causing your pain. Most basketball players benefit from wearing a knee sleeve or a knee strap
This can help: Review of the best knee braces and sleeves for basketball.
6) Get a massage
Massage therapy is a great way to relax your muscles and improve blood circulation to your knee. This ultimately reduces pain and soreness.
The best part is that you can do it right away after each game. Having a foam roller or a massage gun is ideal for this, but you can massage your legs with your hands too.
Pro tip: If your knee is swollen, avoid any form of massage as it can make it worse. Place an ice pack instead and get it checked by a doctor right away.
7) Stretch your legs
You can also loosen your tense leg muscles and reduce post-game soreness by stretching your legs. There are several knee stretching exercises for basketball that you can try after a game to help your symptoms.
Just pay attention to how the stretch feels like. You should feel a stretching sensation, it should not be painful. Otherwise, you risk worsening your pain or even injuring yourself.
8) Go to physical therapy
If none of the above home remedies gives you lasting relief, you should get checked by a physical therapist (PT).
We (PTs) are movement experts, trained to identify the cause of your pain and treat it. Your physical therapist will also teach you how to avoid basketball knee injuries in the future as well.
But if possible, try visiting a PT specializing in orthopedics or sports medicine. They’re better suited for helping athletes return to sports fully recovered.
Causes of knee pain after playing basketball
Having knee pain after you play basketball can be a sign that you pushed your body’s limits. This is to be expected, especially if you haven’t played for a while or are new to the game.
Post-game pain may also be a flare-up of a knee injury that didn’t heal well. This could happen with old knee sprains (ACL tears, for example) or patellar tendonitis.
If your current symptoms mimic what you’ve felt when you got hurt before, consult your doctor immediately.
Keep reading: 4 common causes of knee pain after playing basketball.
Common basketball knee injuries
As great as it is, basketball is a fast-paced contact sport. This means it can increase your risk of suffering a knee injury if you’re not careful, such as:
- Knee sprain.
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury.
- Patellar tendon injuries, like jumper’s knee.
- Cartilage tears.
- Meniscus tears.
Do any of these injuries require surgery?
If you suffered from a basketball knee injury, it’s highly likely you’ll get better after a few sessions of physical therapy.
But if the injury was severe, like a grade III sprain, you may need surgery to recover and get back on the court.
However, there are some things you can do to prevent knee injuries from basketball. Like strengthening your joints, or polishing your technique outside the court.
Is it normal for knees to hurt after basketball?
It’s normal for knees to hurt after basketball if you haven’t played for a while. It’s not normal if it happens every time after you play.
How do basketball players take care of their knees?
Basketball players take care of their knees by strengthening them, working on their technique, and using the treatments mentioned above.
Should I wear a knee brace while playing basketball?
You should wear a knee brace while playing basketball if you’re recovering from an injury or if you need extra help, as it may help prevent further damage. (4)
Conclusion: How to treat knee pain from basketball?
Tried-and-tested remedies like rest, ice, pain medication, and massage are some of the best ways to relieve knee pain from basketball.
But you should also consider consulting a physical therapist to get things better and prevent getting hurt again.
- 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
- Ghlichloo I, Gerriets V. Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) [Updated 2022 May 19]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547742/
- Mlost, Jakub et al. “Cannabidiol for Pain Treatment: Focus on Pharmacology and Mechanism of Action.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 21,22 8870. 23 Nov. 2020, DOI: 10.3390/ijms21228870
- Sitler, M et al. “The efficacy of a prophylactic knee brace to reduce knee injuries in football. A prospective, randomized study at West Point.” The American journal of sports medicine vol. 18,3 (1990): 310-5. DOI: 10.1177/036354659001800315