Kick the knee pain with home remedies and get your questions answered
Written by Babylon Team
, 9 min read
When you can't use or bend your knee without pain, it can cause a lot of problems in your day to day life. Daily activities such as walking, turning, or even just sitting can become painful.
Knee Pain Causes
There are lots of questions regarding the causes of knee pain. Can sciatica cause knee pain? Can plantar fasciitis cause knee pain? Can varicose veins cause knee pain?
Unfortunately, knee pain can be complicated. There are a lot of things that can bring pain to our often-used knee joints. Everything from knee osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis to knee injuries including ligament or meniscus tears can be causes of knee pain. The cause of pain might not be from your knees at all, but as an effect of pain or injury in other parts of your body.
Some activities or lifestyles may put extra strain on your knees, making you more likely to experience knee pain. Obesity puts you at higher risk for knee pain. Repetitive stress from high- impact activities like running, jogging, or sports like basketball can also cause pain. Even an old sports injury or dislocated kneecap can come back to haunt you in your later years.
Treating your pain and getting pain relief depends on the cause of your knee pain. Some injuries or surgeries require physical therapy. Others only require rest and elevation. A host of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents are available for arthritis pain. Even hot water or ice packs can ease pain.
So let's touch on some of the most common cause questions.
What causes pain years after knee replacement?
If your knee replacement surgery felt fine at first, but begins to feel painful years later, this can be from the implant loosening or wearing out. You'll need to contact your orthopedic surgeon who may order further imaging to assess the cause of increased pain. A loosened implant or infection may require additional surgery for correction or removal of the hardware. You can help prolong the life of you knee joint, and help prevent other joint problems by maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly, to strengthen the supporting joint structures.
Can back problems/lower back pain cause knee pain? Can hip problems cause knee pain? Can tight hamstrings cause knee pain? Can quadriceps cause knee pain? Can tight calves cause knee pain? Can ankle pain cause knee pain? Can flat feet cause knee pain?
It may seem odd to group all of these questions together, but in the end, their answers are the same: yes. Anything that changes the way you walk can contribute to knee pain. As you change your gait to reduce pain on the affected area, you can end up putting more strain on your knee joints. Even if you don’t experience pain with movement, you may have tight or weak muscles or tendons in your hips, legs, or feet that affect your gait and can cause knee pain over time.
Does sciatica cause knee pain?
Yes. Sciatica is nerve pain from compression of the sciatic nerve root which sits towards the base of your spine. It causes mild to severe sharp, shooting pain radiating down from your lower back to your legs. It can cause knee pain, if that particular nerve root is affected. Like other pain, it can also cause you to change the way you move during physical activity, and put more strain on your knees, contributing to knee pain.
What causes burning knee pain at night?
Burning in the knee can occur in the front, back, or sides of the knees. It is usually a sign of a bigger problem, rather than general strain. It can be caused by:
- ligament or cartilage tear
- injury from overuse
- osteoarthritis of the knee
- Compression of nerves or aggravation of injuries due to sleep position
This is a situation where it's a good idea to speak to your doctor for their recommended treatments.
Can bunions cause knee pain?
Yes. Like other conditions, bunions can change your gait and put pressure on your knees and hips.
Can hallux rigidus cause knee pain?
Yes. Hallux rigidus is a fancy way of saying you have a big toe that won't bend. As you may have guessed, this can change the way you walk, increasing the likelihood for knee pain.
Can wearing flip flops/high heels/worn out shoes cause knee pain?
The shoes you wear can definitely cause pain and even damage to your legs and knees. Flip flops and worn out shoes are less likely to provide the support and impact cushioning your feet and knees need. You may change your stride to compensate for walking in shoes like flip flops and high heels. You also have to work your legs a lot harder when wearing high heels. The way your foot tips forward puts more strain on your quads to hold your knee straight.
Can you get knee pain from inactivity?
Even simply not doing anything at all can cause knee and joint pain. If you sit for too long every day and don't get enough exercise, the muscles around your knees and hips can weaken and become less flexible. That's less support for your knees, making them less able to bear your weight. Additionally, if you are overweight, this further strains the knees to bear that weight daily.
Home Remedies and Pain Management
There are a few different lifestyle changes and natural remedies you can use to manage knee pain without heading into the doctor's office.
If you're at risk for knee pain due to obesity, weight loss is a good way to reduce your risk. If you're experiencing knee pain from tight muscles, a combination of daily stretching, massage therapy, and exercise from a physical therapy program to strengthen surrounding joint structures can help you maintain a healthier gait. People with osteoarthritis may find that low-impact exercise like cycling or tai chi helps improve range of motion and manage pain.
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers and Supplements
Not everything needs a prescription-strength painkiller. Many people can manage their pain with painkillers like ibuprofen or aspirin. Both are called NSAIDs and have anti-inflammatory properties that help with a lot of different causes of knee pain.
Adding certain over-the-counter supplements to your diet may also help. Supplements are sometimes controversial for healthcare providers to advise. This is because OTC supplements are not regulated by the FDA, which means there is no overseeing group confirming the safety and efficacy of the supplement ingredients. However, there are some over the counter supplements that have helped some people with joint pain in some research studies. Chondroitin is a supplement that may help prevent cartilage breakdown. It's often combined with glucosamine, which also supports cartilage to cushion the joint. Curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric, is also available as a supplement. It's an antioxidant, which means it can help reduce pain from inflammation. You can speak to your healthcare provider about the risks verses benefits of trying supplements.
Homemade topical ointments can provide as much relief as some OTC methods. Cinnamon, ginger, mastic, and sesame oil are other homemade ingredients that have been tried on joint pain.
Antioxidants can also be added into your diet, in everything from ginger tea to spinach.
RICE for Knee Pain
RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It's commonly used as an at-home treatment for strains and sprains. First, rest and get off your feet. Put a cold compress, ice, or a bag of frozen vegetables (wrapped in a towel) on the affected area. Wrap your knee in a compression bandage, being careful to allow blood flow. Elevate your knee with a pillow or some other stable surface.
When to See a Doctor for Knee Pain
If your knee pain is severe, or prevents you from living your life, it's time to check in with a healthcare professional. Don't know who to see for knee pain? Our Babylon healthcare providers can point you in the right direction or help create a treatment plan for you. Schedule an appointment if you have any of the following:
- severe pain or swelling
- severe bruising or a deformed knee
- you can't support your weight on your knee, or it feels weak or ready to give out
- you can't fully bend or unbend your knee
- also have a fever or other signs of infection
- your knee pain started with an injury
What doctor do you see for knee pain?
You can see different healthcare providers for knee pain, depending on what's causing it. Schedule an appointment with a Babylon provider and we can create a treatment plan for you or refer you to a specialist.
Can a knee brace cause more pain?
A brace can help provide support and stability to your knee, but it's important to follow instructions. Don't leave the brace on for longer than recommended or wear one if your doctor says not to. Ask your doctor before wearing a brace if you're unsure whether it will help or hurt.
Compression braces are particularly helpful for light sprains, as part of the RICE method.
Is ice or heat better for knee pain?
Heat and ice can both be used to manage different parts of knee pain. Ice helps reduce swelling and inflammation and is best with injuries. Heat can help with pain management, especially on stiff joints. It can also help mobility. It can be helpful to apply heat prior to activity, to help ‘warm up’ the joints for activity.
Can knee pain cause foot pain?
Much like other kinds of pain can contribute to knee pain, knee pain can also cause issues in other parts of your body. If you're changing the way you walk because of pain in your knee, you may feel the results in your feet, legs, hips, or back.
Can acupuncture help knee pain?
There is some evidence that acupuncture (inserting thin needles into specific pressure points on the body) can help with knee pain. Acupuncture should ALWAYS be done by a professional. Do not try acupuncture at home.
Do orthotics work for knee pain?
There are some mixed reviews on orthotic shoe inserts for knee pain. However, if your knee pain is caused by foot pain or lack of support or cushion for your feet, there's a decent chance orthotics could help you. They can help correct your gait, relieving pressure on your knees that may be causing pain. Your insurance may cover orthotics. You can call your insurance to check this, and consult with a healthcare provider if needed. There are professional orthotic services available, to ensure you get the correct type of orthotic based on your feet and health needs.
How to avoid knee pain while dancing/squatting/using stairs/etc.?
The most important thing to remember while moving is proper form. If you see a physical therapist, they can help coach you through how to move and exercise in ways that won't hurt you. For more info on how to move properly during a workout, check out our physiotherapist's guide to exercising at home on your YouTube channel.
How to get a prescription for knee braces?
Some knee braces are available over-the-counter, but you can also get a prescription for special or custom knee braces for conditions like osteoarthritis. Schedule an appointment to talk with a Babylon healthcare provider and we can help you acquire a prescription knee brace, if appropriate.
- Knee pain - Mayo Clinic
- Knee Pain - Medicine Plus
- Fourteen home remedies for knee pain - Medical News Today
- 8 Natural Home Remedies for Knee Pain - Healthline
- Pain After Knee Replacement Surgery - Very Well Health
- Sciatica - Cleveland Clinic
- Burning in Knee - Healthline
- Hallux Rigidus - Cedars-Sinai
- Chondroitin - Versus Arthritis
- Arthritis Pain Relief and Shoe Inserts - Arthritis Foundation
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.