Knee Pain Relief & Nonsurgical Treatment Options

When we experience pain, it’s pretty normal to start contemplating every worst-case scenario we can drum up. However, there are many non-invasive treatments that can help alleviate your knee pain.

When it comes to relieving knee pain, there are many different treatment options. Success varies not only by each individual’s joint, but also by the cause of your pain. Care for arthritis pain, for example, often involves a combination of treatments. Be sure to consult your doctor to discuss the best treatment plan for you.


Many drugs, both prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, are used to treat arthritis and control pain. Common medications can include aspirin-free pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, disease modifiers, and sleep medications. Ask your doctor if medication is right for you.

Low-impact exercise

Regular low-impact exercise, including joint and muscle exercise, is important to improve strength and flexibility. It may lessen pain, increase movement, reduce fatigue, and help you look and feel better. When done properly, it will not "wear out" joints or increase osteoarthritis. Talk to your doctor about what exercises are right for you.

Heat/cold therapies

Use of heat or cold over joints may provide short-term relief from pain and stiffness. Cold packs and baths help reduce inflammation and swelling, and may be useful for flare-ups. Heat assists in relaxing muscles and increasing circulation. Ask your doctor about appropriate use of ice and/or heat for your condition.

Weight management

Weight loss may help ease pain by reducing stress on your joints. After all, your knees bear the full load of your weight.

Physical and occupational therapy

Physical therapists can work with you to create a personalized exercise program and show you how to use therapeutic heat and massage. Occupational therapists can introduce you to all kinds of beneficial devices, such as those used to elevate chair or toilet-seat height. Your doctor may prescribe physical and/or occupational therapy for you.

Assistive devices

You can protect your joints by using a cane or other walking aid to keep from putting excess stress on them. Shoe inserts called orthotics are designed to support, align, and improve the function of your feet. In turn, they may lessen the pressure on your knees.


Different types of braces may help reduce pain and improve stability and mobility.


Particular activities to avoid include: excessive stair climbing; impact-loading sports such as jogging, downhill skiing, and high-impact aerobics; physical activities involving quick stop-start motion, twisting, or impact stresses; excessive bending and kneeling; lifting or pushing heavy objects; and sitting on low seating surfaces and chairs. When avoidance is not possible, your doctor may suggest alternating periods of activity with periods of rest, so your joints don’t tire from the stress of repeated tasks.

Mental health

Talking about your feelings with family members and friends, doing mental exercises such as meditations and staying positive, and joining local support groups may help you better manage your pain.

Nontraditional and alternative treatments

Some people with osteoarthritis take vitamins and antioxidants for joint health. There are also a variety of foods high in anti-oxidants and inflammatory vitamins. If you have arthritis, your doctor may prescribe other types of dietary supplements often prescribed for joint pain as well.

It’s extremely important for you to consult with your physician about all supplements and medications that you're taking or considering.

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