Knee arthritis pain is a common problem.
Approximately 11% of people over the age of 64 have arthritis.
Osteoarthritis of the knee is when there is wear and tear of the bones and cartilage of the knee.
In knee arthritis, the cartilage that lines the knee joint thins, while the bone underneath thickens. This produces bony spurs known as osteophytes, which makes the joint surface all bumpy rather than being nice and smooth and flat. This often results in knee pain and stiffness
Here are the top 10 things you can do to reduce arthritis knee pain and improve how the knee moves.
Studies have shown that one of the best ways to combat arthritis pain is exercises. By strengthening up the muscles that surround the knee, less force goes through the arthritic bones which reduces pain.
Some places run knee arthritis classes that you can attend, or you can see a physiotherapist for guidance. There are also loads of great exercises that you can do at home, without needing any special equipment. LEARN MORE >
Heat is a great natural way to reduce knee arthritis pain. The heat sensation dampens pain signals and helps to increase blood flow to the area, which brings fresh oxygen and nutrients to the knee joint, all of which help to reduce pain.
A microwavable wheat bag or hot water bottle with a cover are two of the easiest, safest ways to use heat whilst ensuring that you don’t burn yourself. Apply for approximately 20 minutes.
NB Don’t use heat if you have circulatory problems.
Placing an ice pack on your knee for 10-15 minutes can really help to reduce arthritis knee pain. Ice packs help reduce swelling which can decrease pressure in the knee joint. You can get special knee ice wraps to apply or use ice cubes/crushed ice or frozen veg wrapped in a towel. Do not use for more than 15 minutes at a time and leave 2 hours before reapplying. NB Don’t use ice if you have circulatory problems or high blood pressure, and don’t place ice directly on your skin – use a thin cloth to prevent an ice burn. LEARN MORE >
Knee braces help to stabilise and support the knee and reduce the pressure going through the joint. Arthritis knee braces can really help if the knee is feeling weak and wobbly.
There are a wide variety of knee braces on the market. You can get special arthritis braces which can work well if the arthritis only affects one side of your knee by taking the pressure off that part of the knee, however they are quite expensive. Simpler knee braces often provide enough support. LEARN MORE >
Avoid staying still! Joints need movement or else they start to seize up. When you move, even simply bending and straightening your knee a few times when you are sitting, your joint becomes more lubricated and moves easier. It’s a bit like putting oil into your car.
So any time you are sitting down for more than 15-20 minutes, either get up and have a little walk around or do some gentle knee exercises in the chair to loosen up the knee joint – you’ll be amazed how much difference it makes! LEARN MORE >
Studies have shown acupuncture can help to reduce the pain associated with knee arthritis, but it should only ever be carried out by a trained professional.
Acupuncture helps to block the pain signals going from the knee to the brain, like shutting a gate, and also increases blood flow to the area which helps promote healing and healthy joint function.
Both are found in normal cartilage so the theory is that by taking supplements, you help the knee cartilage to stay healthy. The effectiveness of these natural supplements is however still being debated.
Some people find they work wonders, other people don’t get any benefit. But with minimal side effects, they may be worth a try – just check with your doctor first. LEARN MORE >
If you are overweight, then research shows that a 5-10% drop in body weight can drastically reduce knee arthritis pain and improve your activity levels.
You should always consult your doctor before commencing on any weight loss programmes.
People with knee arthritis pain often have difficulty kneeling down which can limit activities such as gardening. But don’t let knee arthritis pain stop you from doing what you love.
Wearing gel knee pads helps reduce the pressure through the knee and provides a soft, cushioned surface for your knee which can make all the difference. LEARN MORE >
Whilst it is really important to keep active, it is also important not to overdo things if you have knee arthritis. Pace yourself during the day.
Spread out your physical activities throughout the day rather than trying to do it all at once e.g. housework – tackle one room or one activity and then take a break and do something less physical, then after an hour or two, move on to the next room/activity and then take another break.
You cannot undo the changes in the bone and cartilage associated with knee arthritis, but by using these top tips, you can help reduce the impact arthritis has on your life.
You can get more active, get back to doing the things you love, and reduce or maybe even abolish your knee arthritis pain altogether. Start today!
Page Last Updated: 20 March, 2020
Next Review Due: 20 March, 2022