Many short-term knee problems do not need any help from doctors and people can often help with their own recovery.
Home remedies can also help with many of the long-term problems with knee pain.
Six home remedies
The treatment for knee pain will depend, to some extent, on the cause of the problem. However, the following simple remedies can help with many forms of knee pain.
1. Physical activity
Exercises to strengthen the upper thighs can benefit the knee joint.
Exercise helps to slow the progression of osteoarthritis, a common cause of knee pain.
Physical activity is important to the normal health of cartilage tissue.
Exercise is also good for strengthening the body’s support for its joints. For the knee, strengthening the leg muscles is particularly helpful.
Water aerobics can benefit people with joint pain, because it does not put strain on the knees.
2. Strengthening exercises
Physical therapists can help work out the best exercises and programs for an individual to follow.
Exercises to strengthen the muscles in the upper leg can help to protect the knee joint. Known as the quadriceps muscles, these muscles are at the front and sides of the thighs.
Here are some ideas:
- Raise a straightened leg while sitting or lying down.
- Put one foot up on a step followed by the other, stepping down again, and repeating the step-ups.
- From a seated position, stand and sit repeatedly for one minute, using slow, controlled movements and without using the hands for support.
- Holding a chair, squatting until your kneecap covers your toe, and repeat 10 times.
3. Posture and support
Simple measures to reduce strain on the knee include avoiding chairs that are low to the ground or couches in which the sitter “sinks.”
Sitting on a pillow may help with this. Putting a pillow underneath the knees can make the problem worse, however. A good sitting posture is also important.
Shoes that are supportive are helpful. Shoes with broken arches may produce abnormal force and wear on the knee, causing pain.
Long periods without moving should be avoided. In osteoarthritis, for example, prolonged sitting can produce a stiff, painful joint.
4. Weight loss and diet
A Mediterranean diet can help people maintain a healthy weight and may have anti-inflammatory properties.
People who have excess weight or obesity have a higher risk of knee pain.
Carrying extra weight gives the joints more work to do. Losing it helps to reduce long-term knee pain, including pain caused by arthritis.
Extra weight on your body increases inflammation throughout the body and the knees are affected.
Eating well helps with keeping weight off.
A healthful diet means a balanced one that is:
- high in fruit, vegetables, and fiber
- low in meat, animal fat, and other fat
The Arthritis Foundation recommend a Mediterranean-style diet that is rich in fresh produce.
You should check with a healthcare provider before starting a diet that claims to be good for knee pain, to ensure it will be safe for you.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and other medications can help with knee pain caused by arthritis. Some of these need to be given in a doctor’s office, but some can be used at home, either with or without a prescription.
In 2015, researchers published findings after comparing the effectiveness of a number of drugs used to treat knee pain.
They looked at the effects of the following on pain and stiffness:
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- intra-articular corticosteroids
- intra-articular hyaluronic acid
They concluded that all of these could be helpful, except for acetaminophen. Intra-articular drugs, those injected into a joint, appeared to be the most effective.
In a study of 1,583 people with osteoarthritis, a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate has been tested for safety and effectiveness.
The treatment looks promising, as nearly 80 percent of participant reported a reduction in pain of 20 percent or more. People who are interested in this treatment should speak to their doctor about it.
Massage, including self-massage, may relieve knee pain.
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) recommend the following.
These should be done in a seated position with the knees pointing forward and the feet flat on the floor.
- Loosely closing the hands into fists, tap the upper, lower, and middle thigh 10 times with both hands. Repeat three times.
- Sitting with the feet flat on the floor, place the heel of the hand on the top of the thigh and glide it as far as the knee, then release. Repeat five times. Do the same for the outer and inner sides of the thigh.
- Press four fingers into the knee tissue and move up and down five times. Repeat all around the knee.
- Place the palm of the hand on top of the thigh, glide it down the thigh, over the knee and back up the outer thigh.
Massaging the thigh muscles will have a beneficial impact on the knee.