5 Natural Ways to Make a Sore Knee Feel Better
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
- Cryotherapy (Intermittent and Overnight)
- Aromatherapeutic Baths
- Acupressure and Reflexology
- Non-Inflammation Diet
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.
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.
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!
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