8 Solutions for Knee Joint Pain Relief That Don't Include Medication
Knee pain comes in many forms. Those of us that have chronic knee joint pain know the daily struggles all too well. Whether you have arthritis, knee bursitis, or any other knee-related pain, finding a knee joint pain relief regimen that works reliably can be hard.
When we run out of options, our go-to source of knee pain relief is often medication. It doesn't always have to be that way, though.
There are options out there that could help you to manage your knee pain and give you a better quality of life.
Our Top 8 (Natural) Solutions for Knee Joint Pain Relief
Every person is different, and knee pain relief remedies may not work the same for everyone. However, when applied safely and under the supervision of a doctor, these eight solutions may help you find knee joint pain relief.
1. Find a Low-Impact Exercise You Enjoy
When you're experiencing knee joint pain, mustering up the courage to get out and move can be both a mental and physical battle.
But, although it seems counterintuitive, exercise can potentially provide knee pain relief down the line.
Mild, low-impact exercises can help you to build muscle strength around the knee joint area, relieving some stress in the joint.
You should try to be careful with exercise, though. It is a delicate balance, especially when you have pain in your joints. It can be easy to overdo it.
When you're first starting an exercise routine, it can be helpful to consult a physical therapist. They will give you various exercises to strengthen your knee joint and manage your pain. Physical therapy can improve your range of motion while also targeting specific muscles surrounding your joints.
A long-touted ideal exercise for people that suffer from knee pain is swimming. Exercising in the water takes immense amounts of strain and stress off your joints. You can also try something as simple as running laps in a pool, or attending water aerobics if you aren't fond of swimming.
Other exercises like stretching, yoga, and tai chi can also help manage both physical and mental strength.
2. Use the RICE Method
RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. This is a standard treatment for many sports-related injuries but can be used for arthritis or bursitis related pain as well.
Resting when you have a flare-up may be the only way to manage your pain sometimes. In these moments, finding time to elevate your joint and ice it can bring much-needed relief.
If you don't have time to rest and ice your knee, wearing a compress or wrap around your knee can provide the joint with extra support. As the muscles around your knee gain strength from exercise, a compress may not be as necessary. But resting, icing, and elevating will likely become a routine pain management technique.
3. Consider Acupuncture or Dry Needling
Sometimes, it can be beneficial to turn to alternative treatments like acupuncture and dry needling. If you've never experienced either of these treatments before, they can be somewhat intimidating. Still, depending on the specific knee joint pain you're experiencing, one or the other could provide you with both long and short-term relief.
You may have seen pictures of acupuncture patients with needles sticking out from various parts of their feet or back, but what is it actually? Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that has long been used for pain relief.
While some patients may experience relief from acupuncture needles alone, some patients may need additional treatments paired with acupuncture needles (i.e., electro-acupuncture).
With just the needles alone, many people experience anti-inflammatory effects, along with a release of endogenous opioid endorphins, a natural pain-relieving chemical in our body. The release of these endorphins provides our bodies with some much needed natural relief that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to produce.
Dry needling is similar to acupuncture in appearance but engages with your body differently altogether. Dry needling, when focusing on the knee joint, usually uses acupuncture needles at nine different spots around the knee. Their placements are specifically chosen to increase blood flow around the joint.
Additional blood flow around your joint area provides much-needed oxygen and nutrients to the area. More fluid is able to circulate, and like having enough oil in an engine, your joints can perform better.
Unlike acupuncture, when the needles are inserted for a dry needling treatment, the practitioner will twist the needle slightly to cause an internal stretch in the tissue. Dry needling will typically generate some discomfort but isn't necessarily painful.
Once the needles have been inserted, they're left in place between ten to thirty minutes. Like acupuncture, a low-frequency electrical stimulation may be applied to the needles for specific treatment purposes.
The primary difference between acupuncture and dry needling is that acupuncture targets the Qi or energy of the body along traditional Chinese meridians. Dry needling uses medically defined location points on the body to treat specific pain ailments (typically muscle-related). No matter the one you choose, both acupuncture and dry needling could give you some much-needed pain relief.
4. Use a Walking Aid When Necessary
Particularly if you are young, using a walking aid like a cane, walker, or even crutches may seem like an extreme adaptation in your life. However, breaking past those personal biases can benefit you whole-heartedly.
If you are experiencing immense amounts of pain (whether you think it might be a symptom of arthritis or another condition), or are unable to walk certain distances without assistance, a walking aid may be necessary for a short time.
It generally isn't recommended that you use a walking aid continuously, though. This can cause dependencies and lead to more issues down the line.
Working with a physical therapist to learn how to walk appropriately with a walking aid is important. They can teach you the most effective way to walk, as well as how to strengthen your knee joint to lessen the need for a walking aid.
5. Be Conscious About How You Walk and Sit
Believe it or not, the way you walk, run, and sit at your desk during the day can dramatically impact your knee pain levels.
If we are continuously using a gait that favors one side when we walk, or if we lean while sitting, we are adding extra stress to certain parts of the body.
Being mindful and aware of how your body moves is one of the best ways to manage pain in your life. One of the best ways to become mindful of your movements is through the Alexander Technique. The Alexander Technique was developed to help retrain our movement and posture habits.
During Alexander Technique lessons, you go through guided exercises to break down unfavorable movements and postures so you can integrate positive, beneficial ones into your life.
Our muscles often work in pairs, so when one engages (agonist), another one releases (antagonist). When we walk, our quads and hamstrings will take turns committing and releasing in this process.
So, what happens when that natural flow is disrupted in some way?
Co-contraction occurs when both the agonist and antagonist muscles contract or engage at the same time.
This will usually happen because those muscles are surrounding a joint that needs extra support or protection. To provide more support to a dysfunctional joint, the muscles co-contract to compensate.
Alexander Technique practitioners often look at knee joint pain as a result of excessive co-contraction of the leg muscles during walking, standing, sitting, and other daily activities. Alexander Technique lessons can help you understand how you move, and why it is important to retrain habits that may be harmful.
6. Take Time To Meditate
Meditation can be applied and used in various ways. Traditionally, meditation is a practice where we use a technique (like mindfulness) to focus the mind on a particular object, activity, or thought. The goal of these mental exercises is to achieve mental clarity and awareness by training your attention.
Similar to how the Alexander Technique trains the awareness of specific movements, your awareness can be heightened through the practice of mindfulness in mediation. This is thought to be possible because our mental processes can alter our sensory processing, which includes the sensation of pain.
Over time, you may experience immense benefits beyond pain relief from meditation, but be aware that it can take immense patience and results will likely not be immediate.
While meditation is often grouped with the practice of yoga, it can be done independently.
Yoga can be a great low-impact activity to integrate into your life, but meditation as a practice alone still has the potential to provide relief and control of pain.
Integrating meditation into your life can be a difficult and sometimes confusing process. There are resources online that can help get you started, and you can even hire a mediation guru or teacher. No matter how you integrate these mindfulness practices into your daily life, the more you practice, the more you’ll see results.
7. Invest in Your Foot Health
Did you know your knee pain could be caused by your feet?
Sometimes, helping treat knee pain is as simple as finding the right footwear. Your doctor may recommend special insoles or shoe brands to provide extra support while you walk and stand.
Understanding our movements is one thing, but supporting our bodies with our footwear is another.
You may be a person that needs extra support, while another person's knee joint pain requires them to strengthen their feet for natural support.
Foot health is often overlooked when it comes to knee pain, but our feet can impact how we walk and move, which directly impacts our knees. Working with a physical therapist may be necessary at first to learn the best types of shoes and foot exercises for relieving your pain.
8. Rethink Your Diet
With any joint issue you may experience, your diet can play an integral role, even during knee injury recovery. For most people, the first thought they have for reducing inflammation is to grab an ice pack or take some ibuprofen.
But did you know that there are ways we can reduce inflammation naturally just by altering what we eat?
Ingesting anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, green tea, berries, and leafy greens can be extremely beneficial.
However, it is important to know which foods can promote inflammation so we can avoid them as well. Foods like dairy, processed foods, red meats, and refined carbohydrates top that list, so we should try to limit our intake of these foods.
Fighting off inflammation is the first step in promoting joint health and managing knee joint pain.
The next dietary item to consider is the introduction of collagen protein into your diet.
Although we naturally produce collagen in our bodies, our natural production slows down as early as age 25. Collagen is what helps to keep our skin looking young and our joints feeling youthful.
Since collagen is only found in animal products, try to get it from sources such as fish or eggs instead of red meats that could potentially promote inflammation.
Another great option is to use daily collagen protein supplements to ensure bioavailability and accessibility for the best results. For example, collagen protein supplements from grass-fed cows will give you the benefits of collagen without the inflammation of red meat.
It is important to remember that everyone's pain may be different in severity and cause. Additionally, most of us have different dietary needs. Working with your doctor to find a diet that best suits you for whole-body health may take some trial and error, but as a general rule of thumb, we should try and gravitate towards more whole foods.
Natural Knee Pain Relief
Knee joint pain of any kind can feel debilitating and impossible to manage. The good news is that there are things that you can do in your daily life to help both treat and manage your pain.
While we did not include medication as a treatment on our list of 8 solutions for knee joint pain relief, if you currently take medication for knee pain, it is essential to discuss with your doctor before you stop using it.
In a perfect world, when we have knee joint pain, we would integrate all eight of these solutions into our lives. However, sometimes our schedules, budgets, or personal preferences do not allow for that.
If you shy away from acupuncture needles, or don't want to worry about diet and exercise, one of the easiest ways to manage knee pain is through supplemental collagen. From knee injuries to arthritis pain, the integration of collagen into your diet is a tried-and-true treatment trusted by 3000+ medical professionals.ProT Gold Liquid Collagen is a ready to drink product that absorbs quickly for fast results. We use the highest-quality hydrolyzed collagen protein that is specially formulated for joint recovery and injury prevention. Taking this supplemental collagen can help provide swift - and much needed - relief from knee joint pain.