Regardless of your age, activity level, or daily habits, you need your knees to function well. But when knee pain arises, it will immediately interfere with your ability to accomplish everyday activities. In essence, knee pain can get in the way of allowing you to be you.
Nobody wants to live with a “bad knee” for any extended period of time, especially athletes who are trying to return to their sport as quickly as possible. The longer the time spent with a knee that’s not 100%, the harder it will be to resume your former activity level.
When knee pain develops, the primary goal is to find ways to relieve it quickly. Some knee conditions require the care of a medical professional to diagnose and treat. However, there are a number of steps you can take at home. Below are some of the best home remedies for pain relief:
The PRICE Protocol
If a traumatic knee injury occurs, follow this protocol within the first 24-72 hours to alleviate symptoms and reduce the risk of another injury.
Protection: protect the knee with a bandage, elastic wrap, or tape to prevent further damage from occurring.
Rest: take some time to rest and recuperate immediately after the injury. The amount of time needed depends on the type and severity of the injury. In general, avoid anything that aggravates your knee pain.
Ice: applying ice to the knee slows down blood flow and reduces inflammation, swelling, and muscle spasm. Use ice as soon as possible after the injury. Apply it for 15-20 minutes every 1-2 hours for the first few days.
Compression: wrap an elastic bandage snugly—but not too tight—starting a few inches below to a few inches above the knee.The pressure of this wrap will help to further reduce inflammation and swelling.
Elevation: lie on your back and elevate your leg above your head as often as you can for the first 48 hours of a knee injury. This will drain fluids away from the knee and reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain.
Unless the injury is severe or your mobility is extremely impaired, you should try to exercise regularly after an initial period of rest. Maintaining an adequate fitness level is beneficial for all types of knee issues. Cardiovascular exercises can strengthen the muscles that support your knee while increasing flexibility. You may want to avoid high-impact exercises that involve running and jumping. Focus on low-impact alternatives like swimming, aquatic exercise, cycling, and the elliptical machine.
While a trained professional will provide you with the greatest benefits, you can also massage the painful area yourself. Probe the area around your knee with the tips of your fingers, starting with the top of your calf to the bottom of your thigh. See if you can identify the area that hurts or is tender. Once found, try light massage around the knee to see if it relieves pain. If this increases pain, stop immediately.
Using a foam roller has been found to be helpful for breaking up scar tissue in the muscles of the legs that can contribute to knee pain. The quadriceps muscle and IT band are two areas that should be targeted, especially for runners and active individuals.
Range of motion exercises:
Range of motion exercises: improving the flexibility and range of motion of the leg muscles is a crucial step for addressing all types of knee pain. Try these:
Clam shells: lie your right side with your knees bent and feet and hips stacked. Engage your core and keep your feet together. Raise your left knee toward the ceiling while keeping your right knee on the floor. Hold your lifted knee for one second, then lower. Repeat for 20 repetitions on each side.
Kneeling quad stretch: kneel on one knee and pull the foot of your back leg towards your buttocks. Stretch your quad and hold this position for at least 20-30 seconds on each side.
Get professional advice:
Physical Therapy is a natural, non-invasive way to reduce pain and restore function. By correcting issues such as muscle weakness and decreased flexibility, you may be able to reduce the source of the pain, rather than just masking it. Before seeking more invasive treatments, consult with a licensed physical therapist to see what physical therapy can do for you.