10 effective measures for knee pain
Knee pain can be a recent malady—due to an injury or maybe occurring for several years due to a joint condition such as osteoarthritis. Whatever be the reason, some home remedies will often work for both types of knee pain.
- Hot or cold packs: Using hot packs in the form of hot water bags or hot towels or ice packs is one of the best and simplest anti-inflammatory at-home treatments. Do not apply ice directly to the skin over the knee; wrap it in a towel on the knee and then place it on the knee applying gentle, steady pressure.
- Massage therapy: Gentle massaging of the knee with warm oils such as sesame oil (especially herbal or medicated Ayurvedic oil) is also a tried and trusted method for knee pain for thousands of years. The procedure is also highly recommended in Ayurveda for various types of pain. Massaging the thigh muscles has a strengthening effect, which in turn reduces pressure on the knees during activities such as cardio and those involving body weight-bearing (such as squats) exercises. You can schedule an appointment with a local massage therapist or visit an Ayurvedic/wellness center that offers massage therapy. Ayurvedic centers usually give hot fomentation/steam therapy to the knee after the massage therapy.
- Immobilization: Using knee braces or crepe bandages around the joint can help limit the joint movement and thus the pain.
- Learn how to exercise your knee and muscles around your knee: Visit a physical therapist and learn which exercises will work for your knee pain. Exercises that target the knee joint and muscles around it are effective in alleviating the knee pain when done daily.
- Make use of “RICE”: “RICE” is highly recommended if you have got a sprain in your knee or injured your knee. RICE is a medical acronym that stands for
- Rest: Avoid activities that may put pressure on your knee. Rest for a day or two and more in case of a severe knee injury.
- Ice: Ice is an effective pain-reliever. Although ice therapy is generally safe and effective, don't use ice for longer than 20 minutes at a time (risk of damage to your nerves and skin).
- Compression: Look for a compression bandage that's lightweight and breathable. It should be tight enough to support your knee but should not hamper the circulation.
- Elevation: To help reduce swelling, try propping your injured leg on pillows or sitting in a recliner.
- Stay physically active: Don’t rest too much. Avoid sitting in one place for prolonged periods. If you have a desk job, ensure you get up from your place after every 45 minutes and move around for at least a minute. A sedentary lifestyle can weaken your muscles and put pressure on your knees while standing, walking, and running.
- Keep your weight under check: Being overweight puts excessive strain on your knee. Find ways to lose weight and try to maintain a healthy weight. Every pound that is lost counts in reducing knee pain.
- Make use of shoes with cushioned insoles: Wearing shoes with cushioned insoles can reduce the strain on your knees and help reduce knee pain. You can ask your doctor or a physical therapist about the most appropriate insole for yourself.
- Try acupuncture: Acupuncture is a popular form of pain-relieving therapy with its origin in Chinese medicine. Small needles are inserted at specific points in your skin at different places in the body to relieve knee pain. Visit a qualified acupuncture practitioner/therapist for acupuncture sessions.
- Avoid high-impact exercises: During knee pain, avoid jarring exercises such as running, jumping, and kickboxing. Instead, switch to brisk walking till the pain subsides. Ask a physical therapist if and when can you resume the high-impact exercises.
- Perform yoga: Yoga therapy has gained popularity over the last few years as an effective way of relieving various types of pain and as a stressbuster. A study conducted on over 66 people with knee osteoarthritis showed a decrease in knee pain and improvement in functioning of the knee joint. Learn the most suitable yoga for your knee joint from a certified Yoga instructor.
In case of severe pain of a known condition such as osteoarthritis, you can pop an over the counter (OTC) pain medication such as Tylenol (acetaminophen). If you suffer from medical conditions such as kidney or liver disease, do not take any analgesics before consulting your doctor.
If you have severely injured your knee, do not delay seeking medical help. If the above self-care measures fail to provide adequate relief in knee pain, consider seeing an orthopedic surgeon, who is a doctor specializing in treating conditions of the joints and muscles in the body.
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Perlman A, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Massage for Osteoarthritis of the Knee: a Randomized Clinical Trial. J Gen Intern Med. 2019 Mar;34(3):379-386.