Mild to moderate knee pain can often be successfully treated at home. Whether due to a sprain or arthritis, there are several ways to combat the pain.
Before you attempt to treat your pain at home, you should be cautious. Seek medical attention for moderate to severe pain caused by injury. Some types of knee pain can require surgery or other interventions to resolve. Surgery may be recommended in extreme cases of arthritis. See a doctor if you experience new knee pain after surgery.
However, if the pain is due to inflammation, arthritis, or a minor injury, there are options you can try at home that have proven effective. Read on for more information about alternative therapies and supplements that may help ease your knee pain.
If you’ve twisted your leg, taken a hard fall, or otherwise strained your knee, first aid at home can be helpful. Remember the acronym “RICE” for treating strains and sprains:
Get off your feet and apply a cold compress or bag of ice to the knee. Frozen vegetables, such as peas, will also work if you have no ice handy. Wrap your knee with a compression bandage to prevent swelling, but not so tightly it cuts off circulation. While you’re resting, keep your foot elevated.
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese form of mind-body exercise that improves balance and flexibility. In a study published in Arthritis and Rheumatism, researchers found that practicing tai chi is especially beneficial for those with osteoarthritis. It reduces pain and increases range of motion. The mental discipline it teaches could also aid in coping with chronic pain.
Daily exercise to keep the joint moving reduces knee pain in some people. For those with arthritis, keeping the leg stationary or reducing the range of motion to avoid pain can stiffen the joint and make matters worse. Being overweight can aggravate the problem as well, so weight management is important.
Using a heating pad to rest your knee when reclining can help to keep the joint from stiffening up. Wrapping a gel-style cold pack or cool compress around it can reduce pain and swelling. Alternate between cold and heat. Use cold more often during the first 24 hours after the injury.
In a study published in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, researchers investigated a salve made of cinnamon, ginger, mastic, and sesame oil. They found the salve was just as effective as over-the-counter arthritis creams containing salicylate, a topical pain relief treatment.
A study published in 2001 found that some people with arthritis experienced pain relief using willow bark. The extract is also commonly used by herbalists to treat fever, pain, and inflammation. Do not take willow bark if you have allergies to aspirin or you’re taking blood thinners. Do not give willow bark to children under 4 years old.
Ginger is available in many forms. It can be purchased in pre-packaged supplement form at health food or vitamin stores. Ginger root or tea can be found at the grocery store. The spice is used in many cuisines. Health benefits include relief from stomach upset and nausea as well as pain relief for many conditions. A study of people with arthritis found that ginger helped to reduce pain when used in combination with a prescription treatment for arthritis.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are two supplements that saw widespread popularity over the past decade due to commercial advertisements claiming they promote joint health. Research has shown that the combination had minimal effect on pain for those with mild to moderate osteoarthritis. However, both supplements did appear to benefit people who had more severe pain.
Before you try any home remedy, whether a dietary supplement or other alternative therapy, you should talk to your doctor. Some supplements can interact with other medications or have unwanted side effects.
It’s also important to find the cause behind the pain. You may need blood work and X-rays to rule out more serious possibilities. The sooner you get to the root of the problem, the sooner you’ll be on the road to recovery.