Knee pain is a very common medical condition that occurs due to constant wear and tear of the knee joint. It can be experienced by older adults, young adults and children. Women are more vulnerable to knee pain than men.
The exact location of the knee pain can vary. Pain can originate in any of the bony structures compromising the knee joint (femur, tibia and fibula), the kneecap (patella) or the ligaments and cartilage (meniscus).
Knee pain can be localized or diffuse throughout the knee. Also, the severity of pain can vary from a minor ache to severe and disabling pain.
Pain in the knees can be caused by weakened bone structure, and wear and tear due to aging. Other common causes include fractures, ligament injuries, meniscus injuries, dislocation of the knee joint and stiffness in the joint due to arthritis, lupus and other chronic ailments.
In addition to pain, you may have symptoms like stiffness in the knee, noticeable swelling, redness, numbness in the affected leg and difficulty walking or standing.
Don’t let knee pain sideline you from doing the things you enjoy. You can take care of your knee pain with some simple and easy home remedies.
These remedies are most helpful for mild to moderate pain caused by overuse, lack of use or improper training. They can also help with knee pain associated with aging and conditions like arthritis but you also need to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Here are the 10 home remedies for knee pain.
1. Cold Compress
Applying cold compresses to the painful knee is one of the best and easiest ways to reduce pain and swelling. The cold will constrict the blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the affected area and thus reducing swelling. It will also give you relief from the pain.
- Wrap a handful of ice cubes in a thin towel.
- Apply the compress to the affected knee area for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Do this two or three times daily until your pain is gone.
A bag of frozen peas also works well as a cold compress. You can opt for alternating hot and cold compresses as well for chronic pains.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is also helpful in reducing knee pain. Due to its alkalizing effect, apple cider vinegar helps dissolve mineral build-ups and harmful toxins within the knee joint. It also helps restore joint lubricants to help reduce pain and promote mobility.
- Mix two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in two cups of filtered water. Sip this mixture throughout the day. Drink this tonic daily until you recover completely.
- You can also add two cups of apple cider vinegar to a bath tub of hot water. Soak the affected knee in the water for 30 minutes. Do this once daily for a few days.
- Also, you can mix together one tablespoon each of apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Use it to massage the affected knee once or twice daily until the pain is gone.
3. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin that works like a pain reliever. Capsaicin’s natural analgesic or pain-relieving properties produce a warm sensation and reduce pain in the affected knee.
- Prepare a mixture by adding two tablespoons of cayenne pepper powder in one-half cup of warm olive oil. Apply this paste on the affected area twice daily for at least one week.
- You can also mix one-quarter or one-half teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder in one cup of apple cider vinegar. Soak a clean washcloth in this solution and apply it on the aching area for about 20 minutes once or twice daily until the pain and inflammation is reduced.
- You can even apply a gel containing 0.0125 percent capsaicin topically to reduce knee pain.
Whether knee pain is due to arthritis, muscle strain or injury, ginger is an effective remedy to alleviate the pain. Its effectiveness comes from the presence of anti-inflammatory compounds in it. Ginger can reduce swelling on the knee as well as the pain.
- Crush a small piece of fresh ginger root, add to one cup of water and boil it for 10 minutes. Strain and add a little honey and lemon juice. Drink two to three cups of this ginger tea daily until the pain is gone.
- You can also massage the affected knee with ginger oil two or three times a day until you are satisfied with the results.
Turmeric is an effective and natural treatment to relieve knee pain. Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin that has anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant properties that help reduce pain.
Also, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) reports that turmeric may slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, one of the main causes of knee pain.
- Add one-half teaspoon each of ground ginger and turmeric to a cup of water and boil it for 10 minutes. Strain, add honey to taste, and enjoy twice daily.
- Boil one teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of milk. Sweeten with honey and drink it once daily.
- Another option is to take 250 to 500 mg turmeric capsules three times daily.
Follow these remedies daily until the pain is gone completely.
Note: As turmeric can thin the blood, these remedies are not suitable for those taking blood-thinning medicine.
Lemon has also been found beneficial as a home remedy for knee pain caused by arthritis. The citric acid found in lemon works as a solvent for uric acid crystals, which is the cause of some types of arthritis.
- Cut one or two lemons into small pieces.
- Tie the pieces in a cotton cloth and dip it in warm sesame oil.
- Place the cloth on the affected knee for five to 10 minutes.
- Do this twice daily until the pain is gone completely.
Also, drinking the juice of one lemon diluted in a glass of warm water early in the morning on an empty stomach is also beneficial.
7. Mustard Oil
According to Ayurveda, a gentle massage of the painful knee with warm mustard oil eases inflammation, improves blood circulation in the region and relieves pain.
- Heat two tablespoons of mustard oil.
- Fry one garlic clove (chopped) in it until it turns brown.
- Cool and strain the oil.
- Massage your aching knee with the lukewarm oil in circular motions.
- Cover the knee with plastic wrap and use warm towels to apply heat for a few minutes.
- Do this twice daily for about one or two weeks.
8. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate that has been shown to provide relief from knee pain. Magnesium works as a natural muscle relaxant that helps remove excess fluid from the tissues, in turn reducing inflammation, swelling and pain.
- Add one-half cup of Epsom salt to a hot bath and stir it well.
- Soak the affected knee in this warm solution for 15 minutes.
- Do this a few times a week until you get complete relief from the pain.
Note: This remedy is not recommended for those suffering from heart problems, high blood pressure or diabetes.
9. Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek seeds can also be used to relieve knee pain due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Also, fenugreek seeds are warm in nature and considered very beneficial for those suffering from knee pain due to arthritis.
- Soak one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in filtered water overnight. In the morning, drain off the water and munch on the seeds. Do this daily for one or two weeks.
- Roast and grind a handful of fenugreek seeds and store them in an airtight jar. Mix two teaspoons of this powder and add enough water to make a thick paste. Apply the paste on the affected knee area. Leave it on for 30 minutes and then rinse it off with warm water. Use this remedy twice daily for a week.
10. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil has analgesic, or pain-relieving properties that help get rid of knee pain. The cooling sensation of this oil can even ease knee pain from arthritis.
A study published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal indicates that even inhaling this essential oil may help reduce pain and inflammation after total knee replacement.
- Blend together five to seven drops each of eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil. Then, mix in two tablespoons of olive oil.
- Store the mixture in a dark glass bottle, away from direct sunlight.
- Rub this mixture onto your knees whenever they ache.
- Make sure to massage gently so that the oil penetrates deep into the skin.
Along with these remedies, you need to follow these preventive measures for faster recovery.
- Try to lose extra body weight
- Wear the right kind of shoes and sandals
- Avoid wearing high heeled shoes
- Avoid “knee-busting” activities
- Take magnesium and omega-3 supplements on a regular basis
- Go for a brisk walk-for 15 minutes daily
- Do joint-targeted exercises under the guidance of an expert
- Do not smoke, which slows healing
- Drink more water to soften cartilage and keep yourself hydrated
- Compress the knee with a knee brace or wrap
- Keep your legs in an elevated position to reduce swelling and pain
If the knee pain is still there after one or two weeks, consult a doctor to find out the exact cause and treatment options.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Dr. Tejbir Singh Pannu, MD, MS
What are the possible causes of knee pain?
Knee pain can be caused by degenerative disease, mechanical issues, injury-related, etc.
- Osteoarthritis (age-related degenerative changes)
- Septic arthritis (infection in knee)
- Rheumatoid arthritis (autoimmune arthritis involving knee)
- Crystal-based arthropathies
- Gout (deposition disease of uric acid)
- Pseudogout (Calcium pyrophosphate crystal disease)
- Mechanical issues
- Dislocated Patella (dislocation of knee-cap bone)
- Floating loose body in knee (bone snip, etc.)
- Meniscal tear
- Bursitis (Inflammation of bursa)
- Patellar tendinitis (Inflammation of patellar tendon)
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury
How long does it generally take for knee pain to disappear?
The timeline for the knee pain to disappear depends on the causality. For example, the one due to trauma to knee improves in the beginning, but joint becomes painful later. On the other hand, knee pain arising from osteoarthritis worsens with use, and becomes lesser with rest.
Does clicking sound in the knee indicate any serious health problem?
Clicking sound in the knee can be due to several reasons, and should be evaluated by a physician. It can present without pain in the beginning, but eventually, can become painful.
The most common causes of knee clicking sound:
- Meniscal or ligament tear
- Runner’s knee with patellofemoral pain, or
- Osteoarthritis itself.
Most of these reasons behind knee clicking can be treated.
What could be the possible reasons for pain behind the knee?
Following are the causes of pain behind the knee:
- Leg cramps
- Tendonitis (Gastrocnemius, Biceps femoris, Patellar)
- Ligament (Anterior cruciate/Posterior cruciate ligament) injury
- Torn meniscus
- Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) in lower extremities
Please suggest a few tips and precautionary measures to keep in mind when dealing with knee pain?
- Control your weight
- Avoid a fall
- Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) for knee pain at home
- Do cardio regularly
About Dr. Tejbir Pannu, MD: Dr. Pannu is an orthopedic surgery research fellow at the Cleveland Clinic. Before this role, he worked at the Hospital for Special Surgery, New York (Cornell University), one of the best orthopedic hospitals in the world, for 3 years. In addition, Dr. Pannu studied Orthopedic Biomechanics (MS) at the prestigious New York University (NYU). These training years have honed his clinical research skills placing him in the top young scientists of the country.