Before you try these home remedies for knee pain, it may be in your interest to first be sure that you know exactly what is causing it. If you already know, then that’s fine, otherwise a visit to your local health practitioner for a diagnosis will ensure that you can manage it at home and that it’s not something more serious that requires surgery or other medical intervention.
Knee pain is a common problem that affects thousands of people worldwide. The severity of the pain depends on factors such as age, cause and the health status of the person. Conditions which typically cause knee pain include arthritis, bursitis, cysts, gout, ligament injury, loose material floating around the knee, or other structural or flexibility issues. Knee pain is a quite common complaint among those who are ageing, but it can also be a problem for young adults and children. Women are more vulnerable to knee pain than men.
The exact location of the knee pain can vary. Pain can originate in any of the bony structures compromising the knee joint (femur, tibia and fibula), the kneecap (patella) or the ligaments and cartilage (meniscus). It can also be localized or diffused throughout the knee. The severity of the discomfort can vary from a minor ache to sharp pain that “catches” and disables you.
First Principles for Knee Pain Home Treatment
Before we go into specific home treatments, I’d like to introduce you to an acronym which will make it easier to remember the following practices. It’s one of the best known and effective home remedies for knee pain – they call it PRICE.
So what does PRICE stand for?
Protect – Rest – Ice – Compress – Elevate
Protect – Protecting your knee from further damage that might occur from everyday use should be your top priority. This means avoiding activity that aggravates the problem and causes further swelling. By avoiding further damage, you allow the healing process to begin earlier and consequently, the time to full recovery will be reduced.
Rest – During the first few days after injury or flare-up (if the condition is arthritic in nature) you should rest your knee to allow the inflammation to subside and tissue healing process to work.
Ice – Applying ice to a swollen knee will slow the metabolic rate. This means that the demand for oxygen by the tissue slows down, so that less blood travels to the area. The ice will also calm the swelling by constricting the blood vessels around the knee – and this means even less blood travelling to the area. Ice should be applied for 20-30 mins every 1-2 hours.
Compress – Applying a compression bandage or sleeve to your knee reduces the space that blood and swelling can occupy, so you should notice an immediate reduction in swelling. Increasing the pressure around your knee also encourages any swelling to clear. Compression should be applied for up to 5 days post injury.
Elevate – The idea is to elevate your knee above the level of your heart. This will reduce the hydrostatic pressure in your knee which helps to minimize swelling. Doing this also uses gravity to assist with drainage and decreased blood flow to the swollen area. Unfortunately, maintaining this can be difficult if your life is busy, but it’s something you should attempt whenever possible.
Now, let’s delve into more specific treatments.
Best Home Remedies for Knee Pain
1. Apply a Cold Compress
One of the best and most convenient ways to reduce pain and swelling from a sore knee, is by applying a cold compress. As previously mentioned, the benefit from the cold lies in constricting the blood vessels, thus reducing blood flow to the affected area and so reducing the swelling. You should also experience relief from the pain.
Here’s What to Do:
- Wrap a handful of ice cubes in a thin towel.
- Apply the compress to the affected knee area for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Do this two or three times daily until your pain is gone.
A bag of frozen peas also works well as a cold compress. You can opt for alternating hot and cold compresses as well for chronic pains.
2. Ginger Root
It doesn’t matter whether your knee pain is coming from arthritis, muscle strain or injury. Ginger is an effective remedy to alleviate the pain. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds that go to work, reducing swelling on the knee as well as the relieving the pain.
Crush a small piece of fresh ginger root, add to one cup of water and boil it for 10 minutes. Strain and add a little honey and lemon juice. Drink two to three cups of this ginger tea daily until the pain is gone.
You can also massage the affected knee with ginger oil two or three times a day until you are satisfied with the results.
3. Epsom Salts
Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate that has been shown to provide relief from knee pain. Magnesium works as a natural muscle relaxant that helps remove excess fluid from the tissues, in turn reducing inflammation, swelling and pain.
Here’s What to Do:
- Add one-half cup of Epsom salt to a hot bath and stir it well.
- Soak the affected knee in this warm solution for 15 minutes.
- Do this a few times a week until you get complete relief from the pain.
Note: This remedy is not recommended for those suffering from heart problems, high blood pressure or diabetes.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is also helpful in reducing knee pain. Due to its alkalizing effect, apple cider vinegar helps dissolve mineral build-ups and harmful toxins within the knee joint. It also helps restore joint lubricants to help reduce pain and promote mobility.
Here’s What to Do:
Mix two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in two cups of filtered water. Sip this mixture throughout the day. Drink this tonic daily until you recover completely.
You can also add two cups of apple cider vinegar to a bath tub of hot water. Soak the affected knee in the water for 30 minutes. Do this once daily for a few days.
Also, you can mix together one tablespoon each of apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Use it to massage the affected knee once or twice daily until the pain is gone.
5. Turmeric Powder
Turmeric one of my favorite natural home remedies for knee pain. Not only does it relieve pain but it is good for you in every way. Turmeric contains a very special chemical called curcumin which has anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant properties that help reduce pain.
Also, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) reports that turmeric may slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, one of the main causes of knee pain.
Here’s What to Do:
- Add one-half teaspoon each of ground ginger and turmeric to a cup of water and boil it for 10 minutes. Strain, add honey to taste, and enjoy twice daily.
- Boil one teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of milk. Sweeten with honey and drink it once daily.
- Another option is to take 250 to 500 mg turmeric capsules three times daily.
Note: As turmeric can thin the blood, these remedies are not suitable for those taking blood-thinning medicine.
6. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper contains an ingredient called capsaicin which is a natural analgesic or pain reliever. When coming into contact with human skin it produces a warm sensation and reduces pain in the affected knee.
Here’s What to Do:
- Prepare a mixture by adding two tablespoons of cayenne pepper powder in one-half cup of warm olive oil. Apply this paste on the affected area twice daily for at least one week. As an aside, this mixture is also great for hair growth.
- You can also mix one-quarter or one-half teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder in one cup of apple cider vinegar. Soak a clean washcloth in this solution and apply it on the aching area for about 20 minutes once or twice daily until the pain and inflammation is reduced.
- If you prefer, you can purchase and apply a gel containing 0.0125 percent capsaicin topically to reduce knee pain.
7. Lemon and Sesame Oil
If your pain is associated with arthritis then lemon has been found beneficial as a home remedy for knee pain. The citric acid found in lemon works as a solvent for uric acid crystals, which is the cause of some types of arthritis.
Here’s What to Do:
- Cut one or two lemons into small pieces.
- Tie the pieces in a cotton cloth and dip it in warm sesame oil.
- Place the cloth on the affected knee for five to 10 minutes.
- Do this twice daily until the pain is gone completely.
You might also like to try drinking the juice of one lemon combined with half a teaspoon of baking soda and diluted in a glass of warm water, early in the morning on an empty stomach. It’s a great morning detox.
8. Use a TENS Machine
A TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) machine is a small, battery-operated device with electrodes which you stick onto the effected area. The device then delivers small electrical impulses (don’t worry they won’t hurt you!). TENS machines have been used as a home treatment for knee pain for years and are still popular today.
Some of it’s known benefits include:
- Increased blood flow to the area, reducing pain and swelling as a result
- Reduced muscle spasm and limb guarding, which in turn, improves range of motion and reduces pain.
- Stimulating the production of endorphins which are the body’s natural pain killer.
TENS machines are usually used for pain relief from chronic knee injuries or conditions or any general aches and pains.
9. Mustard Oil
According to Ayurveda, a gentle massage of the painful knee with warm mustard oil eases inflammation, improves blood circulation in the region and relieves pain.
Here’s What to Do:
- Heat two tablespoons of mustard oil.
- Fry one garlic clove (chopped) in it until it turns brown.
- Cool and strain the oil.
- Massage your aching knee with the lukewarm oil in circular motions.
- Cover the knee with plastic wrap and use warm towels to apply heat for a few minutes.
Do this twice daily for about one or two weeks.
10. Fenugreek Seeds
Here’s another one for arthritis related knee pain. Fenugreek seeds possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and as such, can also be used to relieve knee pain. Not only so, but fenugreek seeds are warm in nature and considered very beneficial for those suffering from knee pain due to arthritis.
Soak one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in filtered water overnight. In the morning, drain off the water and munch on the seeds. Do this daily for one or two weeks.
Roast and grind a handful of fenugreek seeds and store them in an airtight jar. Mix two teaspoons of this powder and add enough water to make a thick paste. Apply the paste on the affected knee area. Leave it on for 30 minutes and then rinse it off with warm water. Use this remedy twice daily for a week.
11. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil has analgesic, or pain-relieving properties that help get rid of knee pain. The cooling sensation of this oil can even ease knee pain from arthritis.
A study published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal indicates that even inhaling this essential oil may help reduce pain and inflammation after total knee replacement.
Here’s What to Do:
- Blend together five to seven drops each of eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil. Then, mix in two tablespoons of olive oil.
- Store the mixture in a dark glass bottle, away from direct sunlight.
- Rub this mixture onto your knees whenever they ache.
- Make sure to massage gently so that the oil penetrates deep into the skin.
Follow any of the above remedies daily until the pain is gone completely.
Home Remedies for Knee Pain – Lifestyle and Prevention Tips
- Try to lose extra body weight, as this puts extra pressure on your knees.
- Wear shoes and sandals that don’t put unnecessary strain on the ankle or knee joints.
- Avoid wearing high heeled shoes
- Avoid “knee-jarring” activities
- Take magnesium and omega-3 supplements on a regular basis
- Go for a brisk walk-for 15 minutes daily
- Do joint-targeted strengthening exercises. I personally believe this is the most important stage of treatment for any injury or condition, and the great thing about it is that you can do these anywhere, which means it’s an ideal home treatment for knee pain.
- Knee Stretching Exercises – do this to improve the flexibility of the muscles in and around the knee and to improve the mobility of the joint. You can do this standing up, by pulling each foot up behind its own leg – or kneeling down, as depicted in the image. Stretching the muscles around your knee can play a pivotal role in the management of knee pain.
- Don’t smoke, or if you do, try giving it up. Smoking slows healing
- Drink more water to soften cartilage and keep yourself hydrated
If the knee pain is still there after one or two weeks, consult a doctor to find out the exact cause and treatment options.