If you have arthritis in your knee, you know the pain can be unrelenting. Fortunately, there are several lifestyle changes and at-home treatments that can provide you comfort and relief. Learn how to ease arthritis-related pain in your knee.
- Lose Weight
Losing just one pound of body weight can take 3 to 4 pounds of pressure off your knees. Less pressure means less pain. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly can help you lose weight, gain strength, and improve your overall health—which will help you feel better all over.
- Go Hot and Cold
Many people find that applying heat, then ice, then heat again at regular intervals to their inflamed knee provides relief. There are several types of hot and cold pads made specifically to treat joint discomfort. Also consider over-the-counter pain-relieving creams and ointments.
- Live on One Level
Climbing stairs can be particularly painful when you have knee arthritis. Plan your day so that you can minimize the number of times you go up and down steps. You can also rearrange your living space. It’s common for people with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions to keep their frequently used items on one floor.
- Go Low-Impact
It’s important that you stay active to maintain your knee function and overall good health. However, high-impact activities like running and playing tennis put a high amount of stress on your knees. Switch to aerobic exercises that are low-impact. Bicycling and swimming are two great examples.
- See a Physical Therapist
A PT can show you exercises that will help you maintain your range of motion and knee flexibility. They design exercises to help you strengthen the muscles in your legs to better support your knees. Work with a PT to develop a plan that’s right for you. Then, do your best to consistently follow the routine as often as your PT suggests.
- Use Assistive Devices
Wearing a brace on your knee can help with stability and function. An “unloader” brace shifts weight away from the area of your knee that’s affected. A “supporter” brace will support your entire knee. Try both to see which you prefer. Other assistive devices that can help include a cane for balance and support, and an elastic bandage for extra support around the knee itself.
- Check into Special Footwear
Talk with your doctor about shoes and insoles that provide support and reduce pain when you walk. Choose shoes that are flat and flexible. Try to avoid wearing high heels, which bear pressure down on your knees..
- Try OTC Pain Relievers
You may be able to ease knee pain with over-the-counter medicines. Start with acetaminophen (Tylenol). Studies have shown that it’s effective against arthritis pain. Other choices include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil). Talk with your doctor about the OTC medications you’re taking and the dosage that’s safest for you. If you don’t find relief, ask about stronger medications that your doctor can prescribe.
- Consider Supplements
Two supplements, glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin, may slow or halt the breakdown of your cartilage when you have knee osteoarthritis. Be sure to discuss all supplements with your doctor before starting them—some can interfere with prescription treatments.
- Stay Positive
Your knee pain can hurt so much that it’s difficult to focus on anything else. Intense as that pain might be, your attitude can help you take control. When you stay positive and do things you love as best you can, you can distract yourself and help lessen the pain.
When to Call Your Doctor
If, despite all the steps you take, your knee arthritis pain gets worse or affects your quality of life, call your doctor. Your doctor may be able to suggest other ways for you to cope with the pain. Ask your doctor if it’s time for more in-depth treatments like steroid injections or surgery to repair the joint.