How can I treat knee pain?
The treatment and management options that you’ll need for your knee pain will depend on what’s causing it. The options are:
Self-help for knee pain
If you have a minor injury, you may be able to manage it at home until the pain goes away. Your doctor or physiotherapist may recommend resting your leg and using ice packs. Try to avoid heavy lifting if this makes your pain worse. But heavy lifting can also help your recovery if the pain is controlled.
You may find that low-impact exercise, such as swimming or cycling, helps with long-term pain. A physiotherapist will also be able to suggest exercises that can help your strength and balance. Try to avoid activities that make the pain worse.
For some causes of knee pain, wearing inserts (orthoses) may change how weight is loaded on your knee, which might reduce pain. If you’re overweight, it can help to lose weight so you don’t put as much pressure on your knee joint. This pressure can also cause changes in the cartilage in your knee. Losing weight may also reduce inflammation, which could ease your symptoms, as well as slowing down the changes to the cartilage in your knee.
Physiotherapy for knee pain
Physiotherapy is an important treatment for many knee injuries. The aim is to reduce pain and help your knee recover strength, stability, range of movement and overall function. This might involve strengthening of the muscles in your legs, as well as your buttocks, abdomen, pelvis and back (your trunk muscles). A physiotherapist can also help you change the way you run (your running gait) if this is causing your knee pain.
A combination of approaches – such as taping, exercises and manual therapy – might help reduce pain. Your physiotherapist will work closely with you to create a programme that best suits your needs and could help prevent knee pain in the future.
Medicines for knee pain
The main groups of medicines you can take for knee pain are painkillers and anti-inflammatories. In the early stages, it’s best to avoid anti-inflammatories as they can slow tissue healing.
Surgery for knee pain
If you have a severe injury to your knee or other treatments haven’t worked, you may need surgery. You may need surgery if, for example, you’ve torn a ligament in your knee and are very physically active.