Knee pain can have many different causes. Some, like a sprain, will heal over time. Others, like osteoarthritis, are chronic. Regardless of the issue, home remedies for knee pain can play a critical role in your pain management plan.
Treating knee pain at home can be simple. Oftentimes, it won’t require any fancy gadgets or expensive medications. For many techniques, all you need is your body!
When treating knee pain, you may have to try several different techniques or combinations to see what works for you. This is normal, since every person’s pain is unique and responds to different treatments.
It also means that knowledge is power! The more you can learn about knee pain home treatments, the better off you’ll be.
Tips for choosing home remedies for knee pain
The effectiveness of home remedies for knee pain can vary. Some can provide instant relief, while others – like taking collagen for knees – take several weeks to show effects. Some are backed by years of scientific research, while others have little to no proof that they’ll soothe that constant, achy, distracting pain in your knee.
Choosing which remedies to try starts with what kind of knee pain you’re dealing with. Knee pain from an injury will have different needs compared to knee pain from arthritis. And knee pain from a chronic condition will have its own considerations.
In general, people with an injury will want to focus on rest and rebuilding the knee. On the other hand, people with a chronic condition will want to focus on managing pain and strengthening the surrounding muscles so the knee carries less weight.
If you aren’t sure about the source of your knee pain, test a few different methods of treating knee pain at home and speak with your healthcare team about the next steps. While waiting to see a doctor, avoid anything that causes your knee to hurt more, so you don’t risk damaging it further.
No matter what type of knee pain you’re dealing with, there will be some home remedies that help, so let's dive into the top remedies for tackling knee pain at home.
15 home remedies for knee pain
Here are our top 15 home remedies to try for knee pain:
1. Rest your knee
Rest is important whether your pain is chronic or due to an injury. However, in the case of chronic pain, be careful not to overdo it. Resting your knee too much can weaken it, making you more susceptible to injury in addition to a chronic condition.
When it comes to home remedies for knee pain, there’s nothing simpler! Avoid long walks, stairs, or vigorous activities, and make sure your knee isn’t bearing any weight or pressure when sitting or lying down.
2. Manage swelling with ice
Swelling can increase pain significantly, making your knee feel like a hot, sensitive ball of pain with every movement or touch. If your knee is visibly swollen or feels hot and tender to the touch, it’s time to use ice.
Icing is one of the most well-known home remedies for knee pain, especially in the case of an injury. When icing your knee, try to use something flexible like a bag of frozen vegetables or a flexible reusable ice pack. Use a thin fabric to make sure the ice doesn’t sit on your skin directly, as this can damage your skin.
When using ice as a knee pain home treatment, work in rotations. Ice your knee for about 20 minutes at a time. Any longer, and you risk tissue and nerve damage. Allow your knee to warm up for about 30 - 60 minutes before reapplying the ice.
3. Manage stiffness with heat
Stiff knees, like other stiff joints, are caused by a buildup of fluid in the knee and/or cartilage damage. Taking collagen for joints can help with knees that are stiff due to cartilage damage, but heat can help ease stiffness in both cases by increasing blood flow to the knee.
Like ice, heat should be rotated in 20 minutes on, 30 - 60 minutes off sessions. Some people find a combination of heat and ice to be one of the most effective home remedies for knee pain out there!
4. Use compression sleeves
Compression can help reduce swelling and increase blood flow, and both of these things can reduce your pain. Some home remedies for knee pain are difficult to do regularly in the hustle and bustle of daily life. For example, you can’t use ice and heat treatments during your workday.
Compression sleeves can provide the extra support and long-term pain relief you might need throughout the day.
5. Elevate your knee
Like resting and icing, elevation is one of the most well-known home remedies for knee pain, but it bears repeating. Elevation allows excess fluid to drain away from the knee. This reduces swelling and provides extra support when the joint is at its weakest.
Elevation is a common home treatment for injuries, but elevation is helpful for arthritis pain, as well. So, if you’re looking for knee pain arthritis relief, elevating your leg might help! Prop your knee up above the level of your heart, and keep it elevated for as long as is comfortable.
6. Create support for the injured knee
Support for knees takes all kinds of different forms. Kinesiology tape can provide short-term help as an alternative to compression sleeves. Braces might be necessary for severe injuries, while chronic conditions might require a walking aid, such as a cane.
Don’t let embarrassment or shame stop you from using support. About 1 in 10 people will need a walking aid at some point in their life, and as access to them grows, so does the number of people using them as home remedies for knee pain.
7. Reduce pain with over-the-counter NSAIDs
NSAID stands for “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug”, and it’s the most common form of knee pain home treatment – and any other pain, for that matter! Tylenol, Motrin, and even Aspirin are NSAIDs.
NSAIDs can be a useful tool for pain management when used with other, more slow-acting treatments like strengthening or taking a knee pain supplement.
8. Use acupressure techniques to calm flare-ups
When it comes to home remedies for knee pain, acupressure can offer some of the simplest, quickest relief. Acupressure uses your body’s natural nervous system response to manage pain and stress.
Acupressure shares the same roots as acupuncture, but unlike acupuncture, it’s something you can do yourself – no needles required!
You can even use acupressure techniques away from home, like when you’re in a waiting room or you’ve been standing for a long period of time and need quick relief.
9. Try massage techniques
You might be most familiar with massage as a relaxation tool, but it has a rich history of pain relief, too. Massage balls and foam rollers are often used by athletes to loosen and massage different muscles and ligaments around the body.
Ligaments are often overlooked, but a cramped ligament can cause just as much pain as a muscle or damaged cartilage. Taking a supplement, like collagen for ligaments and doing stretches can help, and so can massaging painful knees.
Like acupressure, massage is one of those home remedies for knee pain that is simple, quick, and ultra-effective at managing pain.
10. Stretch and strengthen the surrounding muscles
Anytime you look for advice on how to prevent knee pain, you’ll notice stretches and strengthening right at the top. Yoga and Tai Chi are the most commonly recommended options, but there are many ways to stretch and strengthen your knees and legs.
Like heat and massage, these things can increase blood flow to the area, managing stiffness and pain. Unlike other knee pain home treatments, stretches and strengthening can also decrease the risk of injuring (or re-injuring) your knee.
This is because not only do the ligaments and muscles in your knee build up and get stronger, but the surrounding muscles get stronger, as well. The other muscles in your leg can then take some of the pressure off your knee, allowing your weight to be more evenly distributed.
11. Improve your posture (even while sleeping)
Changing your posture can improve your knee pain dramatically, especially when you improve sitting, standing, and sleeping posture. Correct posture allows your knee to avoid taking extra weight.
Like stretching and strengthening, posture is one of the home remedies for knee pain that’s as much about prevention as anything else.
When standing and sitting, make sure your knees, hips, and ankles are aligned and avoid locking your knees. When you’re asleep, good posture often requires using pillows to support your knees and keep them in alignment with your hips, ankles, and spine.
12. Practice mindfulness and meditation
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to significantly decrease perceived pain for those with chronic pain. Mindfulness meditation involves deep breathing, calming your mind and body, and focusing on the moment.
These things calm your nervous system, which may be what makes meditation one of the easiest home remedies for knee pain. A calm nervous system will react less intensely to pain stimuli, while an overactive one will make pain feel more intense.
13. Consider weight management techniques
For every extra 10 pounds of weight on your body, your knees handle between 15 and 50 pounds of extra pressure. This means that if you’re overweight, you may want to look into weight management techniques like exercise plans, dietary changes, or other medical interventions.
Like pain management, much of weight management is also done at home. While it may take time to feel the change, weight management is one of the most helpful home remedies for knee pain.
Taking the pressure off your knees can dramatically reduce your knee pain, and prevent osteoarthritis from developing or worsening.
14. Review your hydration and nutrition needs
Good hydration keeps everything in your body running smoothly. While an injury or chronic pain condition certainly won’t be cured by drinking more water, following your body’s hydration needs can make you more comfortable overall.
Your nutrition needs can also factor into your home remedies for knee pain. An anti-inflammatory diet can help prevent excess swelling and irritation throughout the body, and ensuring your body has all the nutrients it needs can help injuries heal more quickly.
15. Supplement with collagen for knees
Collagen is one of the most basic building blocks of the body – and that includes the knees. Your knees are made up of cartilage, ligaments, and muscles, all of which are up to 80% collagen by dry weight.
If collagen makes up such a large part of your knee, can collagen cure knee pain if you take it as a supplement? Not quite. However, collagen supplements can support your body in healing itself, as well as strengthening the supporting muscles and ligaments. And as a low-calorie protein, collagen can assist in weight management.
Like weight management or strengthening, taking collagen is one of the home remedies for knee pain that will take a little while before you feel its effects. Collagen supplementation shines when paired with short-term pain relief measures like ice, heat, and massage.
When to speak with a doctor about knee pain
So, you’re stretching, massaging, icing, and taking collagen for knees. With all these home remedies for knee pain, should you still see a doctor? Yes, absolutely. A doctor can help diagnose your knee pain and offer a more comprehensive plan for treatment.
Even more importantly, you should see a doctor if you notice any of the following:
- Severe redness, swelling, or heat on the knee
- Pain getting worse over time
- Pain disrupting your daily routine
- Deformity or bruising on the knee
These things can all be signs of a more serious condition that needs immediate care.
Finding the best home remedies for knee pain
The best home remedies for knee pain won’t be the same for everyone. When it comes to pain management, what works best for you may not work as well for someone else.
Treating knee pain at home should always be guided by your own pain signals. If something hurts, stop and try a different technique. And for things that take time, be persistent. Strengthening your knee and supplementing with hydrolyzed collagen take time, but they can make the greatest difference in managing your knee pain.