Knee Pain Relief Options: Exercises, Home Remedies, and More

Fact checked by Olga Sadouskaya, MD
Clinical Pharmacologist, Chief Medical Officer

Knee discomfort may affect people of any age and might start unexpectedly, after engaging in physical activity, or even after being injured in some way.

There is a wide variety of possible reasons for knee discomfort, including the following:

  • Arthritis
  • Overuse of muscles
  • Baker’s cyst
  • Joint inflammation
  • Bursitis
  • Strain or sprain
  • Tearing of cartilage

Knee pain often starts out mild and then becomes progressively worse over time. Luckily, there is a wide variety of medicines available for knee pain relief, including over-the-counter pills, prescription drugs, and injections. The intensity of the knee pain as well as the underlying reason will determine the kind of medicine that should be used to treat it.

Keep reading to learn what you can do to relieve knee pain with medications, exercises, or home remedies.

How to relieve knee pain

Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (commonly referred to as the acronym RICE) are often the initial treatment option for knee discomfort. But what if you don’t feel much better after doing that?

If the pain is severe or you are unable to move your knee, you should make an appointment with your doctor. There are alternative solutions available to you if the discomfort is not too severe, such as twinges or pains caused by an old injury.

You can get some medications without a prescription at most drugstores. For prescription drugs or injections, you will need to consult a medical professional. Make sure that you follow the directions for any method you choose to use. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.

A close-up of person's injured knees

Acetaminophen is effective at treating moderate to severe pain. Creams, gels, or patches containing capsaicin may reduce the quantity of a substance in your body that is responsible for transmitting pain signals to your brain.

It’s possible that products with capsaicin may hurt or burn, but in order for them to work, you need to apply them to your skin on a consistent basis.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also reduce inflammation in the knee joint. Some of these include:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen

Another option for knee pain relief is getting shots. After numbing the area, your physician may provide medication to your knee joint through an injection straight into the joint itself.

There is a misconception that corticosteroids are the sort of steroid that helps grow muscle. In the best of circumstances, they can reduce inflammation and provide pain relief for an extended period of time.

You will most likely not get more than two or three steroid injections in a single calendar year.

It may take anywhere from two to three days before you start to feel the effects of the medication.

After getting a shot, the majority of individuals are able to immediately return to work or go home. Some individuals experience what is known as a “steroid flare,” which is a surge of pain in the location of the injection that may last for up to 48 hours.

What works best for knee pain: Heat or ice?

Heat or ice treatment is a really good remedy for knee pain. The use of ice may alleviate both pain and inflammation. Plus, a bag of frozen peas works very well because it covers the whole knee.

In addition to this, you may protect your skin by using an ice pack that has been wrapped in a towel. Prolonged exposure to ice may cause damage to nerves and skin, so it’s best to limit your ice treatments to no more than 20 minutes at a time, even though ice therapy is usually considered to be safe and effective.

Be ready for the upcoming symptoms!
WeatherWell helps you stay informed about the changing weather that may affect your health and well-being.
Weatherwell app screenshot

On the other hand, if you put a heat pack or a hot water bottle on the sore spot on your knee, you may find that it provides you with relief. The heat expands the blood vessels, improving blood circulation in the area. People with arthritis often find heat packs to be particularly effective at relieving joint pain.

Does KT tape or a brace help with knee pain?

Yes! Knee pain KT tape is super effective at relieving knee pain. Taping the knee is a technique that may be used to alleviate discomfort felt in the knee.

In addition to this, it’s done to strengthen the knee support, which may help treat and prevent a variety of problems. During this part of the procedure, specialized tape is wrapped around the knee.

It is believed that placing the tape in certain spots can help manage pain by exerting more control over the muscles and joints.

Similar to KT tape, a knee pain brace also works for knee pain relief. It works by removing pressure from the area of the joint that is most severely affected by osteoarthritis.

A knee brace may help you stand and walk with greater confidence if your knee feels as if it could collapse when you put weight on it. The brace also helps stabilize the knee.

Home remedies for knee pain

The discomfort in your knee may go away on its own at times. If the pain isn’t too severe, you may be able to manage it at home by doing the following:

  • Place as little weight as possible on the knee.
  • Avoid standing for extended periods of time.
  • Use an ice pack on the knee for up to 20 minutes every two to three hours.
  • Take acetaminophen.

Best exercises to relieve knee pain

Are you concerned that your workouts could aggravate the knee discomfort that you already have? If your physician gives you the green light, the best thing you can do for your knee is to work on strengthening the muscles that support it while also ensuring that they remain flexible.

Begin slowly, then gradually increase the pace as you go. Talk to your primary health care provider about the kind of physical activity that is beneficial to you.

Some knee pain exercises include the following.

Stretches to ease knee pain

Seated hamstring stretch

  • Straighten your legs out in front of you while you sit on the floor.
  • Spread your palms flat on the floor.
  • Bend forward as far as you can without locking your knees or arching your back.
  • Slide your hands toward your feet.
  • Maintain the position for 20 to 30 seconds, then let go.
  • Repeat two or three times.
Two people doing stretching exercises for knee pain relief

Standing hamstring stretch

  • Maintain an upright posture in front of a step or workout block.
  • Stand with your heel on the top of the step and your toes pointed upward.
  • Stretch your knee by straightening your leg.
  • Slowly bend forward, bringing your chest close to your calf.
  • Lean forward while you keep your back and raised leg straight.

You should experience a stretch down the back of your leg, just above your knee.

  • Keep this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then release and come back to the starting position.
  • Stretch the other side.

Side-lying quadriceps stretch

  • Roll onto your right side and stack your legs.
  • Your right arm may be used as a headrest.
  • Bring your left heel toward your left glute as you extend your left knee backward.
  • Grab your ankle with your left hand and bring your foot in closer to your bottom.
  • Stay in this position for 45 seconds.
  • Stretch your left side three to five times before moving on to the right.

Yoga poses to try if you have knee pain

Not all yoga positions are the same, and there are several yoga styles. Always be sure to protect your knee from any activities that can cause stress on it.

The following are some yoga positions that may alleviate knee discomfort.

Bound angle pose

When in bound angle, the soles of the feet touch, and the knees spread wide apart. This position does more than just extend the knees. It also stretches the hip flexors, inner thighs, and groin, all of which have an effect on the knees.

Start off by practicing this posture with your knees slightly bent to reduce stress on the knees. Then, gradually and according to your comfort level, bring your feet closer to your groin.

Download WeatherWell to track your joint pain in different conditions and get daily advice on managing your symptoms.

Warrior pose

When done correctly, warrior I, II, and III can strengthen the various muscles around the knee, increasing knee stability and improving your overall balance.

In poses like warrior I and II, when the front knee is bent, it is very important to keep the knee at a 90-degree angle. To do this, your front knee should rest comfortably over your ankle in all standing positions.

Legs-up-the-wall pose

In addition to strengthening the glutes, core, and quads, this posture also brings the knee into a relaxed flexion of about 90 degrees. The legs-up-the-wall yoga posture entails lying on your back on the floor and bringing your legs up against a wall.

Pillows and blankets may also be used to support your lower back. In addition to controlling blood flow, this stance also lowers swelling and inflammation across the whole lower body.

How to prevent knee pain when running

If you’re wondering how to prevent knee pain running, here are some tips:

  • Take a few minutes to stretch.
  • Perform a quick warm-up before you go out for a run.
  • Build up your core strength.
  • Use a cold compress after your run.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Wrapping up

The first step in dealing with knee pain and stiffness is to work with your doctor to develop a personalized treatment plan. The best method to prevent joint injury from worsening and becoming more painful over time is to intervene as soon as possible once it has occurred.

Have a conversation with your health care provider about the best combination of physical activity and medicine for your needs. Talking to someone about your weight and whether or not they think you may benefit from a weight reduction program is also a good idea.

These, together with other lifestyle changes, may put off the need for surgery for a considerable amount of time. You can receive the help you need to effectively manage your symptoms and keep up your normal routine if you seek the proper medical attention.

January 16, 2023