5 Natural Ways to Make a Sore Knee Feel Better

Updated on April 11, 2018
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Techy Gran is a grandmother looking to enhance her golden years and those of other boomers with information about useful lifestyle topics.

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Back in our younger days (before we passed the '60' mark anyhow) we considered traveling as a great, joyful adventure and planned out our itineraries to take in the recommended sights and shows. We generally didn't consider—at least not consciously—the possibility of injury or illness getting in the way of having a fun time. Unfortunately, that's just one of the things that changes with age. The good news is, there are ways to help a sore knee without having to make a trip to the doctor. My husband and I learned this the hard way after he injured his knee on one of our vacations.

He had gone for a brisk 14 km walk in sub-zero weather along a highway shoulder that sloped sharply towards the ditch, and while walking the last 7 km back, he found his left foot and leg began to feel the strain of the uneven gait. Within a couple of kilometers of his destination, he suddenly felt a twinge in his left knee that grew increasingly painful as he continued to walk. By the time he reached home base, he was limping in agony. There had been no cracking feeling or noise, no falls, and no sudden slips that would signify a twist or a break.

We used five methods to manage and reduce the inflammation and pain in my husband's knee without any pharmacy prescriptions or visits to the Emergency Room.

5 Natural Methods for Treating a Sore Knee

  1. Cryotherapy (Intermittent and Overnight)
  2. Aromatherapeutic Baths
  3. Acupressure and Reflexology
  4. Non-Inflammation Diet
  5. Rebounding

Disclaimer: These remedies are for non-serious knee injuries. Since neither of us is medically trained or certified, we strongly suggest that you consult with your health and wellness professionals before trying any of these methods.

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation is one of the body's immune responses—an effort to protect the body and remove harmful stimuli in order to begin the healing process.

***

Inflammation is characterized by five symptoms: pain, redness, immobility, swelling, and heat.

1. Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy refers to ice treatments, such as putting a bag of frozen peas on an injured body part (though of course, that is not the most effective method). Cryotherapy works because ice is a natural agent in 'cooling' inflammation down. It also reduces pain and promotes healing. There are different ways to go about icing, but these were the two that worked best for my husband.

How to Ice a Sore Knee

Although pretty much any type of icing will help reduce inflammation and pain, this technique is particularly effectual.

  • Freeze water in a large paper cup or plastic container.
  • Peel the paper away from the ice or shake it out of the container.
  • Using a towel to hold the ice, move it in small circular motions over the sore area.
  • Maintain this continuous motion for about seven minutes.
  • Set ice aside and place a warm washcloth over the affected area.
  • Lightly massage the skin with the washcloth.
  • If aches persist, repeat the process.

This movement increases blood circulation and helps the body begin to heal itself. Usually, this method also numbs the pain in the affected area, albeit temporarily.

Note: Setting the ice in one place for seven minutes could cause ice "burns," so be sure to move it continuously.

Icing the Knee (ice frozen in yogurt container).
Icing the Knee (ice frozen in yogurt container).

How to Ice a Sore Knee Overnight

Another cryotherapy technique involves wrapping the knee first with a cold, wet cotton strip and then covering that with a thick, dry wool strip (in my husband's case, we opted for using his socks). Whatever you use, just be sure that it is long enough to be pinned securely around the knee.

  • Wet a cotton strip thoroughly, then partially ring it out.
  • Put the strip in the freezer for an hour.
  • Fasten a strip of dry wool around the frozen strip.
  • Secure both strips around the knee. I wrapped duct tape around them to keep them in place.
  • Sleep with the strips in place.

The icy cold strip stimulates blood flow to help the surrounding muscles warm up. The knee will begin to warm up again, and circulation will keep it that way during the night. Don't forget; where there is circulation, there is healing!

Knee wrapped in two socks (one icy) and bound with duct tape.
Knee wrapped in two socks (one icy) and bound with duct tape.

2. Aromatherapeutic Baths for Knee Pain

My husband finds a warm (not quite hot) bath helps his knee to feel less painful—especially when he adds essential oils to the water—and he usually takes about one a day.

To prepare an aromatherapeutic bath, simply add ten drops of lemongrass essential oil to a 1/4 cup of Epsom salts and run hot water over the mixture until it dissolves.

Aromatherapeutic baths are very soothing and are said to ramp up the immune system. An essential oil like lavender can be used in addition to (or instead of) lemongrass to relax and aid in healing. Several essential oils are useful in promoting the body's healing processes. Speak to someone in your local health store or google various essential oils to find more information.

Did You Know?

Hydrotherapy refers to any kind of treatment with water (liquid, steam, or ice), so cryotherapy and aromatherapeutic baths are both a kind of hydrotherapy.

3. Acupressure and Reflexology for Knee Pain

This technique operates with the understanding that the energy flow (or chi in Chinese) flows through the body via a system of invisible meridians or pathways. The chi, or electrical current, has low resistance at acupuncture points that represent specific body parts and organs. An injury or disease will cause a sort of "clog" in the energy system, and applying firm pressure to the appropriate points is said to release the energy and restore the electrical flow that returns one to balance.

Knee pain, including arthritis, responds well to simple acupressure. You may want to have acupressure performed on your knee by a spouse, friend, or an acupuncturist (who will be trained to use the classic needle technique that you would not want to try at home). You might also want to acquire a portable acupressure machine to perform this technique on yourself. You can also learn and apply basic techniques through watching acupressure/acupuncture videos explained on youtube.

The following points are connected to knee pain, including arthritis:

  • B60. Midway between the tip of the outer ankle bone and the front of the Achilles tendon.
  • GB34. Two fingers below the outside of the knee in front of and below the knobby head of the fibula bone.
  • S36. Three fingers below the knee and one finger outside the sharp ridge of the shin bone.
  • Xiyan. Two points, one in each of the hollows beside the wide tendon below the kneecap.
  • He ding. Two fingers above the middle of the upper border of the kneecap.
  • SP9. Two fingers below the inner knee joint in the middle of the smooth sloping surface of the tibia bone.
  • B40. At the midpoint of the crease behind the knee.

Reflexology is similar, however, all the pressure points are located on the feet, hands, and outer ears. This is another good method for relieving knee pain, especially if acupressure worked well for you.

Acupressure: B40 Point for Knee Pain

Reflexology: 3 Points for Knee/Hip Pain

4. Follow a Non-Inflammation Diet

I imagine that this sounds rather strange as an intervention for knee pain, but an alkaline diet is considered optimal for fighting inflammation. For this reason, fresh fruits and veggies are the backbones of a healing diet. People with high acid diets (for example, big consumers of animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs) are more prone to diseases such as arthritis and gout and will have a harder time reducing the resulting inflammation. If your knee pain lessens while using either of the following tips, you might want to stick to that regimen.

Does an Alkaline Diet Reduce Knee Pain?

These dietary tips are especially helpful for persons with arthritis, but they can still help with other types of knee pain.

  • Eliminate the nightshade family. This includes tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplant, and tobacco.
  • Decrease citrus. Citrus is also thought to contribute to joint issues, such as sore knees and arthritis.
  • Avoid all refined foods. That means white sugar, white flour, and processed foods.
  • Avoid wheat altogether. Though this is a more serious restriction, it still might be something you want to try going without to see how you feel.
  • Ditch alcohol and sweets. If that feels harsh, you should at least significantly decrease consumption.
  • Get tested for food allergies.
  • Get tested for a hydrochloric acid deficiency.

Note: the last two bullets above require a visit to the doctor.

Do Juice Fasts Help Reduce Knee Pain?

They can! You don't need a fancy juicer, either. A regular blender and a nut milk bag will work wonderfully. There are many excellent green smoothie and blended salad recipes that encourage the body to heal, but I've included my favorite starter juice recipe below.

Green Garden Juice:

  • 3 Broccoli florets
  • 1 bruised garlic clove
  • 4-5 chopped carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • A handful of kale or arugula

Blend the above ingredients together and strain the juice through a nut milk bag. If the mixture is too thick, push it through a juicer or blend it together with some extra filtered water.

Note: When drinking, to stimulate good digestion, make 'chewing motions' in your mouth.

5. Rebounding to Promote Knee Healing

Exercising with a sore knee might sound counterintuitive, but the more encouragement the body gets to start healing itself, the better! Naturally, however, it's important to do low-impact workouts that won't overstress your knee. That's where rebounding comes in. This low-impact activity builds strength, helps with weight loss, and promotes good circulation of both blood and lymph cells. A gentle "health bounce" on a mini-trampoline for a couple of minutes every hour over the course of a few days will generally be all it takes to get the lymph moving and the healing started.

As simple as rebounding seems (too simple), there are loads of testimonials online lauding its efficacy. Thanks to rebounding, people with severe joint pain have achieved freedom from their agony and are experiencing healthier lifestyles than ever, even better than their pre-arthritis days. If you'd like to experiment with more ways to rebound, check out the video below.

Note: Invest in a good rebounder that has the appropriate "give." There are lots of sterling models on the market, and it's worth paying a little more to get a product that works.

Get Well Soon!

I hope that you have found at least one or two natural techniques in this article that will help your knee to feel better quickly. If you try all of the methods and have the discipline to make them part of your routine each day for a week or so, I am sure you will notice a real improvement in your general health.

Finally, don't forget that you can supplement any of the above options with prayer. For those who believe in God, or some form of higher power, prayer is a natural step forward in the healing process. In our case, we prayed for comfort, healing, and direction regarding what course to take. Should we go to a nurse-practitioner for counsel? Does God have some special words to share with us through that "small voice" that is the Holy Spirit speaking to us directly, through dreams, visions, nature, or in The Word (Holy Scripture)? Yes, while the sore knee was a hindrance in some of our plans, it clearly was not a serious injury, and for that, we were both grateful.

'Have faith in God,'Jesus answered. 'Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it, and it will be yours.'"

— Mark 11:22, 24

Questions & Answers

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      • techygran profile image
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        Cynthia 14 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        Dear Jack, It would be a good idea for your mummy to see a doctor or someone who could see what is wrong with her kneecap and then you can have her come back to this site and try some of the suggestions that are on here! Thank you for caring for your mummy! ~Cynthia

      • profile image

        jack 14 months ago

        my mummy has a very sore knee cap and what should I do to help my mummy please reaply

      • techygran profile image
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        Cynthia 19 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        Hi there ChitrangadaSharan, I'm sure the physiotherapist's exercises are helpful, if you can do them exactly as they are set out and as often as you are directed to. I am pleased you find the tips on here are helpful. All the best! -Cynthia

      • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan 19 months ago from New Delhi, India

        This is very useful and informative hub! As we age knee pains become so frequent.

        Normally I do some exercises suggested by physiotherapist and they need patience. Your tips seem to be very helpful.

        Thanks for sharing!

      • techygran profile image
        Author

        Cynthia 20 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        Hi there Roberta-- Thank you for dropping by and leaving comments. Hope you rarely have to apply any of these tips!

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 20 months ago from the short journey

        Taking care of our knees is rather important business at any age but as we weaken with age it's crucial to know how to prevent and treat injuries. Thanks for these useful tips on helping to heal a bummed up knee.

      • techygran profile image
        Author

        Cynthia 2 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        Besarien, thank you as always for your valuable feedback and the suggestions that you bring with you as a runner whose knees have taken a beating I'm sure. I admire your forethought, a plan for what to do when you do actually have knee pain. Since I wrote this article I have heard very good things about having the painful area 'taped' with a special kinesiology 'rock tape' (actually, cotton tape) and using creams with DMSO in them to alleviate the pain-- in British Columbia we have a cream made with DMSO and cannabinoids called "BC Bud Rub" that is somewhat controversial, but also effective for many.

      • Besarien profile image

        Besarien 2 years ago

        Have been a runner for fitness and pleasure since I can remember. Now at 49 I do not have any persistent knee problems yet, but certainly expect them later. I take glucosamine to try to stave off joint problems. I do get aches sometimes when I overdo, fall, or take a wrong step, particularly easy to do when running trails in the mountains here. Cold always seems to do me the most good even though I much prefer soaking the rest of me in a warm tub while applying an ice pack. I found this gel pack that you put in the freezer. It gets cold as ice but stays flexible. I also have found a lot of relief with Topricin. I have never gone for professional reflexology nor tried to self-use it. I am going to try these videos- or probably get my husband to do it for me- next time I have an ache in my knee. It makes perfect sense to me how pressure in one area can relieve pain in another. It is sort of the opposite of referred pain- where your brain tells you one area is hurting when the problem exists elsewhere. Thanks for a fascinating hub with lots of good advice about combatting knee pain and having a more healthy and pain free existence in general. I wish you and your knees many, many pleasant miles of trouble-free cooperation.

      • techygran profile image
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        Cynthia 3 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        Thank you Millionaire Tips for stopping by and I hope very much that you have some good results by making some changes in your diet! Sore knees are no fun! All the best, Cynthia

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

        My knees are sore from time to time, so I am eager to try your ideas to see if they work for me. I have tried ice and heat, but will have to try to change my diet to see if that helps.

      • Faith Reaper profile image

        Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

        Phenomenal hub here! I have recently been having trouble with my right knee due to my lower back being out of whack and then I was trying to adjust how I walked, which made the knee start hurting. I have been praying and I woke up just yesterday and it all just went away. Knee pain is no joke and so painful.

        Bless you for sharing these wonderful natural remedies to help many, I am sure! I will keep all of these in mind if it flares up again.

        Up and away

        Blessings

      • techygran profile image
        Author

        Cynthia 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        Hey Insightful Tiger-- I hope that any of these tips work for you to erase the discomfort of the old knee injury! Thank you for your kind comments and support-- on my way over to look at your articles!

      • Insightful Tiger profile image

        Insightful Tiger 5 years ago

        I have an old injury in my left knee and my right knee has problems from overcompensating. Every once in a while the left knee pops out of place. My knees are fine right now, but if they act up; I'd like to use all of the tips in this hub. I'm bookmarking, up voting and pinning. Thanks for sharing!

      • profile image

        Wearmanyhats 5 years ago

        I don't know about coming from bone marrow. I don't think so. I think it's a shellfish based thing because of the people who are allergic to seafood that can't take it. Good luck!

      • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

        Emmanuel Kariuki 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

        Great,will try the glucosamin just to aid the repair. I am certain it is not arthritis, otherwise many more joints would be causing trouble. And since my last jog a week ago I have not problem (yet), I am willing to go slow and add some stretching exercises for a firm healing. I last ran a marathon six years ago, and its about time I reclaimed my glory on the track (before the biological clock says no). Can I get glucosamin naturally, say from soups made with bone-marrow?

      • profile image

        Wearmanyhats 5 years ago

        As as explained to me by a pharmacist, glucosomine is what strengthens and rebuilds the cartiledge. Chondroitin is for inflammation, which isn't a bad idea when you have an injury. There are no conclusive research studies that show that you need one for the other to work, and that pharmacist recommended glucosomine alone for simple maintenance. I want to add here is that the nice part about getting a medical assessment is to address the proper problem. If you have arthritis, then running a marathon might worsen the condition. And no amount of glucomine will help. Sometimes they can use a minimally invasive technique to get out much of that arthritis that is causing the issue. The good news is that there are homeopathic remedies for arthritic conditions, too, to supplement whatever the doctors do. But they got the big guns to do assessment, and we are lucky to be able to have them here in the states. Good luck with your run.

      • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

        Emmanuel Kariuki 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

        Do I choose one or take both? I have seen Glucosomine in shop display windows but had the impression it was for arthritis.

      • profile image

        Wearmanyhats 5 years ago

        And Emmanuel, don't forget that Ostiflex or glucosomine to build up that cartiledge!

      • techygran profile image
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        Cynthia 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        Hey Emmanuel, I hope that it all works out so you don't have to give up your wheat! My hubby is preparing for a half-marathon in June... it's killing him that he can't be out there training like a Trojan. He went for a long bike ride tonight... I believe that resting an injured or gimpy knee is a good idea along with the other ideas above. All the best!

      • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

        Emmanuel Kariuki 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

        Thanks Wearmanyhats.

        I will try the stretching first since that is something I definitely do not do. I think my case is not 'medical' yet because if I don't jogg for any length of time, I have no problem. I want to run a half marathon in October so I have to get over the knee issue soon. Then, Techygran, if pain persists, I'll stop the wheat!

      • techygran profile image
        Author

        Cynthia 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        oh dear Moonlake, my sympathies on your knee-popping experience today! As Wearsmanyhats suggests, you will likely want to get a proper medical diagnosis. In the meantime, you might get some relief from trying some of the suggestions above. All the best!

      • moonlake profile image

        moonlake 5 years ago from America

        My knees have just started to give me trouble. They popped all day today and they hurt. Will have to try some of your methods. Voted Up.

      • techygran profile image
        Author

        Cynthia 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        Good pointers again Wearmanyhats! Thank you for sharing them here!

      • techygran profile image
        Author

        Cynthia 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        Yes, Emmanuel, you get to choose what works for your own knee's rehabilitation, and what doesn't... when you feel really good you will know you have come across the right remedy... otherwise, you might want to experiment with lessening some of the popular problematic items (wheat, for example) to see if that makes a difference. Thank you for reading and rating, and best wishes for a full knee recovery (keep the jogging!).

      • profile image

        Wearmanyhats 5 years ago

        Although weight makes a huge difference, but even slim people can have knee issues. A persist pain probably needs medical diagnosis. If a knee is bugging you after jogging, make sure you are stretching enough to keep your calf muscles from tightening so much that it pulls on the knee and yanking it out. Stretching it out may really help.

      • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

        Emmanuel Kariuki 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

        Very good information, now that my right knee is beginning to complain, especially after jogging. About the diet, they tell us tomatoes are good to ward off prostrate trouble later, so that's a nightshade I'll want to keep. I love wheat products too so I will retain them too. From your list above, I have enough options to at least contain the knee challenge and still have a life. voted up.

      • techygran profile image
        Author

        Cynthia 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        Very good point Om Paramapoonya-- the extra burden of over-weight can cause a lot of issues, and the poor knees are not exempt. Thank you for your pointer!

      • Om Paramapoonya profile image

        Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

        Thanks for your helpful advice, techygran. My mom used to have knee pain almost all the time. After she lost about 20 lbs (Yeah, she was quite overweight) and underwent a few reflexology treatments, her knees haven't been bothering her as much anymore.

      • techygran profile image
        Author

        Cynthia 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        So welcome LivingFood! Knees are, it would seem, poorly engineered if they are creating problems from our childhood onwards-- that certainly was the case with our younger son. I hope that the acupuncture and foot massage are the only extra tools you will need in your knee-repair kit! Cheers!

      • LivingFood profile image

        LivingFood 5 years ago

        This is a really good article! I've had knee problems all my life and have no idea why. For me a clean diet and hot baths work well, but now I have a few others to add to my list...the acupuncture and the foot massage. Thank you so much for the info!!

      • profile image

        wearmanyhats 5 years ago

        Also, if you need to do some long term rehab on that knee, I started a client with bad knees for six months on Supple, then graduated off to Osteoflex, then down to glucosomine for three days a week. Now she uses nothing because she's pain free. Good luck and let us know how you tackle this.

      • techygran profile image
        Author

        Cynthia 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        Wearmanyhats, thank you my friend, for adding some 'professional' pointers about getting a 'realignment' and back massage for the reflexology to be effective! I'm getting my husband to book some appointments right now since he has been talking about going to the chiropractor since we moved here (6 years ago)and it now seems to be "the time". Thanks again!

      • techygran profile image
        Author

        Cynthia 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        Hi Vinaya, nice to have you here to comment but I am sorry to hear about your mother's long-standing problem with a sore knee! I hope the acupressure and acupuncture do the trick! My husband is finding a lot of relief with the little reflexology treatment in the video-- it's simply done-- and if you look under your comment you will see where fellow Hubber Wearmanyhats suggests that a good "alignment" and massage are crucial to do before the reflexology... just some possibilities for your Mom too! All the best to your Mom!

      • techygran profile image
        Author

        Cynthia 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

        Clara Mae, thank you for stopping by! Yes, for sure a regular bounce on the rebounder would probably jar his knee, but he does the "health bounce" which is just a sort of bouncing gesture without actually lifting his feet off the rebounder. I appreciate your pointing out the possible misunderstanding that this might create-- I will go in and edit!

      • profile image

        Wearmanyhats 5 years ago

        Interesting thoughts here. The reflexology will help, but as a long time reflexologist, I encourage a complete massage, back adjustment, then a reflexology treatment to finalize the adjustment (to help save time) and then glucosomine (as long as a person isn't allergic to shellfish.) All the rest will help with pain and swelling, as will hot/cold packs, but without a body frame lineup, the knee may take forever to heal. This complete regimen is more likely to help that knee heal faster and more completely. Good ideas, but I would get more aggressive with an injury. Knees take FOREVER to heal, but heal they can with the proper treatment. Also, there's a new "jogger in a jug" recipie on the internet that really seems to help people loosen up if they have arthritis. Good luck.

      • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

        Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

        My mother has this problem, for long time she massaged with herbal oils, but the pain did not pass away. Recently she started acupressure and acupuncture.

        I believe, some of your tips will really help her.

      • profile image

        Clara Mae 5 years ago

        Very informative. I would choose the prayer, ice, warm bath and juicing. I wonder about jarring the knee on the trampoline. I know when my back is out and paining, to jump on the trampoline would hurt, even just the gentle floating up and down. Dandy little juice recipe you have there.

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