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How Do I Treat Knee Soreness?

Pain killers or anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to help with pain and swelling.
Physical therapy may be helpful when the knee heals.
A person with knee soreness.
Pain medication can help with knee pain.
A person wearing a knee brace.
A person with knee soreness.
A heating pad can help provide knee pain relief by encouraging blood flow to the area.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2014
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Knee pain and soreness can occur for several reasons. Often, the problem is due to a simple injury, such as a sprain, while engaged in sports or exercising. At other times, the soreness and pain is the result of an operation. Some type of ongoing health issues, such as osteoporosis or arthritis, can also cause knee problems. Knowing the origin of the discomfort makes it easier to determine how to treat the pain and achieve some degree of relief.

With sprains, ligament tears, or knee strains, knee swelling often begins to occur immediately. In order to reduce the swelling and minimize the chances of developing knee soreness, it is a good idea to rest the leg in an upraised position. While the leg is resting, apply ice directly to the area of the swelling. Once the swelling subsides, wrapping the knee with athletic bandages can also minimize the soreness. The bandage should be secure enough to support the knee as the sprain or strain heals, but not so tight that it interferes with circulation.

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In situations where the pain is the result of a surgical procedure, the most effective approach is to keep the leg elevated, and use compression bandages to help the knee stay in place. Painkillers may be administered, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs to ease the possibility of swelling. There is also the possibility of physical therapy as the knee heals. When the therapy is conducted under the watchful eye of a trained physical therapist, the efforts help to strengthen the knee and make it possible to regain a full range of use over time.

Conditions such as bursitis, arthritis, and osteoporosis can all lead to knee soreness and pain. If there is no inflammation present, the use of heat can often bring some relief from the soreness. A heating pad works very well, or you can place table salt in an old sock and heat it for a short time in a microwave. Make sure to not leave the heat applied to the area for long periods, as this could irritate the skin.

In some cases, self-treatment for the sore knee is not the best approach. When home remedies and resting the knee does not seem to be working, see a medical professional immediately, as there may be underlying health issues that have not yet been diagnosed and treated. The healthcare professional can examine the knee, tendons, and surrounding tissue to determine the origin of the soreness, and advise you on what needs to be done. Depending on the origin, you may require prescription medication to kill an infection, physical therapy, or surgery to correct the underlying problem and eventually eliminate the pain.

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anon325538
Post 10

Don't rely on x-rays! I had several x-rays done two months hago on my knee. It had been double its size for about a month. The doctor didn't see anything on the x-rays. But I had a tear to my meniscus 15 years prior that I only went to PT for.

Because of my insistence, and that pre-existing condition, my doctor ordered an MRI. Yup, meniscus tear. And it got worse. And now I had a Bakers cyst behind my knee. I'm now recovering from surgery.

When he went in, he found I also had cartilage pushing on the back of my kneecap and early arthritis, both of which should have shown up on the x-rays. I'm only 32, and he didn't expect to find that he said. I'm sure glad I pushed for that MRI.

SarahSon
Post 9

I had a sore, bruised knee for about a month after my knee was slammed into a tree when I was riding a horse. We were riding along on a wooded trail and I was enjoying the ride, but wasn't paying that much attention. There was a tight spot in the trail, large enough for the horse to get through, but my knees were sticking out too far and one of them hit the tree pretty hard.

I knew my knee soreness was not from arthritis, but from an injury, and it needed time to heal. I put an ice pack on my knee after I got home, but other than that I just tried to not put as much weight on it until the swelling went down and the soreness went away.

John57
Post 8

I used to be a runner and enjoyed starting my day running with my dogs. When my knees started to hurt me, I had to find another way to get my exercise. When I quit running, my knees were no longer sore. If I tried to start running again, I would have soreness in my knees again. I finally quite running for good and have now started to swim which is much easier on my knees.

golf07
Post 7

One year when we were skiing I fell down and twisted my right knee. I was glad this happened on the last day of the ski trip instead of the first because I spent the rest of the day in the lodge while everyone else was skiing and having a great time.

My knee was swollen, stiff and sore for a few weeks, but I didn't have to have any kind of surgery. When I got back home and had the doctor take an x-ray he said I was just going to have to take it easy and let it heal. That was several years ago, and I can tell I am going to have arthritis in that knee as I get older. When there are changes in the weather, my right knee is the one that is sore while my left knee feels just fine.

LisaLou
Post 6

My husband is scheduled to have both of his knees replaced. He has done a lot of physical work his whole life and there is no cartilage left in either of his knees. He has a lot of pain and soreness in both of his knees. If he stands for long periods of time or climbs up and down stairs or a ladder, his knees are really sore.

Even if he isn't doing a lot of physical work, his knees are sore and ache at night as well. He knows having the surgery will be painful, but hopefully that pain will be short lived and he won't have to deal with the constant aching and soreness he has now.

He has tried over-the-counter pain relievers and steroid injections, but they don't work very well anymore. He knew taking medications were just temporary solutions because having his knees replaced is probably the only thing that is going to bring him long term relief.

Belted
Post 5
I started running after years of inactivity a few weeks ago. It is going OK, but I have been having horribly sore knee caps. Do you think this is just a symptom of being out of shape and sedentary for so long or is it something more serious that i should ask my doctor about? If it persists or gets much worse I might have to stop running.
anon155456
Post 4

Ive had a sore knee for about a year and a half now, went to several doctors, had xrays the whole nine yards. No sign of any damage but the pain persists.

naturesgurl3
Post 3

There are also several really good herbal remedies for joint soreness in general that work well as a sore knee treatment.

One that I've used before that works really well is a cup of papaya tea, taken six or seven times a day in conjunction with warm baths.

You can also try taking two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with two teaspoons of honey, and taking it twice a day. That's good for your joints, and also for health in general.

If you want to take a more active approach, you can try rubbing the joint with a mixture of camphor, menthol, and eucalyptus oils -- that also works well to work out any kinks.

Of course, if you are having serious pain or swelling, then see a doctor -- there's no sense trying to treat yourself without proper information -- but these are all good home remedies for occasional, incidental knee soreness.

Namaste!

musicshaman
Post 2

@earlyforest -- It sounds like you need to go get that checked out. I used to get sore knee tendons a lot which caused a lot of pain in my knee, and when I went to get it checked out my doctor said that any time you have redness or swelling around a joint, especially the knee, you should go in for an X-Ray.

He said that a lot of people just try the regular sore knee remedies and try to "walk it off" but that can actually really damage your knee and leave you with permanent injury.

So although I'm not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV :) ) I really think that you should get it checked out. Hey, better safe than sorry, right, especially when it comes to your health.

Hope you feel better soon.

EarlyForest
Post 1

Hi -- I wanted to ask a question. I have been having a sore, stiff knee for a few days now, and I'm really not sure about what I should do.

I fell a few days ago, and since then the knee has been swollen and sore. Regular sore knee remedies don't seem to be working -- I've kept it iced and elevated, and I haven't been walking on it, but it's still not getting better.

Also, there seems to be some redness around the joint too, and it's hot to the touch. Does this fit into any sore knee symptoms, and do you know what to do for a sore knee like this?

Thank you for the information.

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