Senior woman who needs relief for knee pain is clutching her aching knee

Relief for Knee Pain Without Surgery

If you’re looking for relief for knee pain, you’re not alone. Knee pain seems to affect us all to some extent as we get older, so knee joint pain relief becomes a bigger and bigger concern. 

When you suffer from knee pain, everyday tasks can suddenly become more challenging. Surgery is an option to reduce knee pain in some cases, but it’s understandable to want to look for alternative options before taking such a big step.

So what are those potential options? How can we get knee pain relief without surgery? Are there knee pain supplements you can take to provide relief?

Today we’re here to present those options, including proven home remedies for knee pain, to help you take control of your knee health. These non-surgical approaches improve the quality of life for thousands of patients each year, so let’s dive in to learn more about them.

The top non-surgical methods for knee pain relief

Here are our favorite methods for finding relief from knee pain without surgery:

The R.I.C.E. method

Let’s start with a tried and true method that’s particularly useful for acute flare ups of knee pain: the R.I.C.E. method. This method for relief for knee pain is often recommended by medical professionals and physiotherapists. 

The R.I.C.E. method, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, can be an effective way to alleviate knee pain and promote healing. By following the R.I.C.E. method, you can help control swelling, reduce pain, and support the healing process of your knee. 

It's important to note that the R.I.C.E. method is most effective for relief for knee pain caused by acute injuries or flare-ups of chronic conditions. If your knee pain persists or worsens despite using the R.I.C.E. method, it's very important to consult with your doctor for further evaluation and guidance.

Let's take a look into each step of the R.I.C.E. method to understand how it can help you.


It may sound obvious, but it’s worth stating nonetheless: When you're experiencing knee pain, it's essential to give your knee some rest to allow it to heal. 

Avoid activities that worsen the pain or put excessive strain on your knees. Take a break from intense exercise or any movements that aggravate the discomfort. Resting your knee will help to prevent further irritation and give your body a chance to recover.


Applying ice to your knees aims to help reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. Ice works by constricting the blood vessels, numbing the area, and reducing fluid buildup. 

To use ice effectively, wrap an ice pack (or a trusty bag of frozen vegetables) in a thin towel and apply it to the affected area. You can do this for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time, several times a day depending on the severity of pain. 

Remember not to apply ice directly to your skin to avoid frostbite. Allow your knee to rest for at least 45 minutes between ice applications for the best chance at relief for knee pain.


Using compression on your knee can help to reduce swelling and provide support. It also helps to limit the accumulation of fluid getting to the injured area.

To compress your knee, wrap an elastic bandage around your knee. You want the bandage to have a snug fit, but not to be so tight as to impair circulation. For the best results, make sure that the bandage is applied evenly and smoothly without causing any pain or discomfort.


Why can elevating your leg help give relief for knee pain? When you elevate an injured or irritated part of your body (ideally above your heart level), it lowers the pressure in the local blood vessels. It also helps to increase drainage and reduce the body’s inflammatory response, helping to ease pain.

To elevate your knee, prop your leg up on a cushion or pillow, making sure your knee is elevated above the level of your heart. This position allows gravity to help drain excess fluid from your knee and reduces the pressure on the affected area. 

Aim to keep your knee elevated as much as possible, especially during periods of rest or sleep.

Pain salves

Pain salves, also sometimes referred to as topical analgesics, are creams or ointments applied directly to the skin. These salves can provide temporary relief for knee pain. They work by targeting the area of application and delivering active ingredients that help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

When applied to the knee, pain salves can offer localized relief by targeting the source of pain. Ingredients like menthol, camphor, or capsaicin create a cooling or warming sensation that may distract from pain signals, providing soothing relief. 

Additionally, these salves often contain anti-inflammatory ingredients such as arnica or turmeric, which, like ice in the R.I.C.E. method above, can reduce inflammation and swelling in the knee joint.

Pain salves can also enhance blood circulation in the affected area, delivering oxygen and nutrients to promote healing. One clear positive of pain salves is their convenience and ease of use, coming in various forms like creams or gels to provide relief from knee pain. 

By following the product's instructions and massaging the salve onto your knee, you can potentially experience the pain-relieving benefits almost immediately. There are limitations to the use of pain salves, however, as their use is more closely related to managing pain than the actual causes of pain in your knee. 

While pain salves don’t provide a cure, they can offer you a reliable option if you experience a sudden flare up and need localized relief for knee pain quickly.


As well as pain salves, medication can provide relief for knee pain. There are a range of medicines that claim to provide knee joint pain relief, and this can be achieved by masking pain or by reducing swelling in the knee area. 

The severity of pain will have a key influence on what medication might be appropriate for your situation, but for thorough confirmation it’s best to consult your doctor.

The most popular medications for knee pain are NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). This is the name for the group of drugs that includes ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. These medications provide relief for knee pain by reducing the swelling around the knee joint, because with less pressure, there’s less pain. 

Acetaminophen, also sometimes referred to as paracetamol, is a pain reliever that can be effective for mild to moderate knee pain. It is often recommended for individuals who cannot take NSAIDs due to certain medical conditions or allergies. 

Acetaminophen helps alleviate pain but does not have significant anti-inflammatory properties, so combining acetaminophen with ice cooling from the R.I.C.E. method may be a worthwhile solution to provide relief for knee pain.

Steroid injections

Compared to the R.I.C.E. method, pain salves, and medication, steroid injections represent a more serious step for providing relief for knee pain. Nevertheless, this method may provide a non-surgical solution to reducing your pain, depending on the type of knee pain you are experiencing, as well as the professional opinion of your doctor.

Also called corticosteroid injections, this option of relief for knee pain can be effective at reducing pain and inflammation. How? Well these injections deliver powerful anti-inflammatory medication directly to the knee joint.

The corticosteroids work by reducing inflammation, swelling, and irritation in the surrounding tissues, alleviating knee pain caused by conditions like arthritis, bursitis, or tendonitis. In addition to their anti-inflammatory properties, corticosteroids also have analgesic effects, so they relieve pain by decreasing not only inflammation, but nerve sensitivity too. 

The benefit of steroid injections is that they can provide significant and relatively quick pain relief, allowing individuals to resume their daily activities with reduced discomfort. The duration of pain relief varies, but can range from weeks to months.

These injections are often used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan and can be combined with physical therapy, exercise, and lifestyle modifications to optimize pain relief and improve knee joint function. 

It's important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if steroid injections are suitable for you, as they may not be appropriate for everyone and carry potential risks and side effects.

Exercise and physical therapy

Pain medications and salves provide great benefits for temporary relief for knee pain, but they don’t offer a sustainable solution for knee pain. Instead of attempting to fix the problems that cause knee pain, they just mask the pain. 

The long term solution to providing knee pain relief without surgery may be lifestyle changes that help fix the root cause of the pain. 

You may be surprised that exercise can provide relief for knee pain, as we just mentioned the importance of rest above. While it’s true that overuse could be partially to blame for your knee pain in the first place, it’s important not to stay off your feet for too long.

If you don’t use your joints, you can lose muscle mass, create instability in your joints, and cause your tendons and ligaments to stiffen up – which can put you at risk of knee injuries down the line. So, after your initial period of rest, it’s important to take up targeted and controlled exercises for your knee joint.

Swimming, cycling, yoga, or Tai Chi can provide low-impact options for regaining motion in your joint. You can also work with a physical therapist, who can design a set of exercises to provide joint stability and relief for knee pain. 

Physical therapy is one of the best long-term solutions for managing your knee pain, and the exercises are something you can always return to throughout your life if you find your joint giving you trouble again.

Weight management

As well as strengthening the overall knee joint, exercise may also help you to lose some weight. Finding a healthy weight can also help you find relief for knee pain. Why? Well, extra pounds can put additional strain on your knees, exacerbating your discomfort.

The more weight you lose, the less stress your knees will be under. Of course, it’s important to take a healthy approach to weight loss, and you may already be at a healthy weight – rendering weight loss unnecessary. You can speak with your doctor to see if this would be helpful for you.

Assistive devices

Not everyone needs to take the pressure off their knees by losing weight, but you can achieve the same effect through the use of assistive devices. 

For instance, a cane or walker can help distribute your weight and provide stability while you walk. Knee braces or sleeves can also offer support, reduce pain, and improve stability. 

Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable device for your needs.

Collagen supplementation

There are plenty of supplements and vitamins for knee pain on the market, but the best of them is undoubtedly collagen. 

Many causes for knee pain stem from issues with your cartilage, tendons, or ligaments. Luckily, all of these tissues are made up primarily of collagen. The collagen protein in these tissues requires constant regeneration to keep your joints strong and flexible. 

Sadly, as we get older, our regeneration of collagen slows, which means we can benefit from the help of a collagen supplement. Collagen can give your body the building blocks it needs to build back healthy cartilage and connective tissues in your knees, providing relief for knee pain.  

It may take a few months for you to see marked results from your collagen supplementation, but because you are actively healing your knee joints with your supplement, it can target your knee issues at the source and provide much more lasting relief. 

Finding your method for knee pain relief

All the methods of relief for knee pain on our list can be used in tandem to complement each other. You don’t need to choose one or the other. In fact, it’s a great idea to start with the R.I.C.E. method and pain relief medicines and salves to provide temporary relief, while working with your doctor on a long-term plan.

That means the first step on your road to recovery should be scheduling an appointment with a medical professional. Your doctor can help you determine which lasting treatment methods are best for your case – from physical therapy to diet changes to collagen supplementation. 

Of course, it’s easy to start taking collagen right away if you’re experiencing knee pain. You just need to find the right supplement. The best collagen for joints is hydrolyzed collagen protein, as it’s easy for your body to digest, absorb, and utilize.  

Taking a daily hydrolyzed collagen protein supplement, along with some of the other methods on our list, may help you achieve relief for knee pain without surgery.