The knee is one of the most complex joints, although it is also one of the most exposed, so it becomes a very vulnerable point and prone to injury.
Fortunately, nature has a wide arsenal of herbs and foods with analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects that will help relieve discomfort in the area.
Many times, the knee can hurt due to blows or bad movements made during daily activity or exercise, although there are other risk factors:
- Being overweight or obese.
- Drinking alcohol and smoking excessively.
- Not stretching properly before or after doing physical activity.
- Suffering from degenerative disorders, such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis.
- Eating a bad diet.
Depending on the type of discomfort, such as swelling or stiffness, you can choose different options to find relief:
- Ice or heat application.
- Do water training, tai chi, or physical therapy.
- Practice bending exercises, such as lunges.
- Use cognitive behavioral therapy or acupuncture.
After consulting a healthcare professional, topical pain relievers or medications, braces such as neoprene sleeves or splints, and injections may be used.
While knee pain is common, you should see a doctor if:
- You cannot bear weight on your knee.
- You have severe pain, even when you are not bearing weight.
- The knee bends or locks.
- The knee is disfigured.
- You have redness or warmth around the knee area, or swelling, numbness, tingling, or blueness.
If the discomfort is mild, you can try the following natural options:
Food and infusions to take care of the knees
Recent research has found that many herbs, spices and foods that we normally have in the kitchen hide great pain-relieving potential, many times compared to common medications, such as ibuprofen.
In some cases there was already a long tradition of its use to relieve pain, as with turmeric and ginger.
These roots have been used for thousands of years to treat and prevent inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, and recent research has observed positive effects of their use to reduce knee pain in patients with arthritis, the muscular product of excessive efforts, and the general inflammation.
Although a simple way to incorporate its benefits is by using it as a condiment in your dishes, you can prepare infusions by boiling half a teaspoon of powder from each root in two cups of water, and add honey to enhance its effects.
Other options that are beneficial thanks to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects are:
- Cherries: for its richness of anthocyanins.
- Garlic: by the presence of capsaicin.
- Pineapple: for its antioxidant compounds.
- Fish oil: for its content of Omega 3 fatty acids that block the production of leukotrienes (mediators of inflammation) and cytokines (proteins released by immune cells in response to injury).
If you have a weakness for herbal teas, we also have good news for you, as many herbs have been linked to a decrease in knee pain:
- Horse tail.
- White willow.
Even your morning companion, coffee, is useful against pain, since caffeine has a general anesthetic effect, blocking the substances responsible for transmitting the sensation of pain from the muscles to the central nervous system.
Essential oils for knee pain
Other herbs can be used topically to relieve knee pain. Such is the case of eucalyptus essential oil or ointment, which is rich in cineole, a compound that relieves pain by reducing the response of the nerves in the area where it is applied.
Another is clove, which, although commonly used to treat toothaches, can be applied to the skin.
Comfrey oil has also been linked by many studies (and a long tradition of natural medicine) to a decrease in the intensity of pain, possibly thanks to a chemical called allantoin.
Other beneficial essential oils are juniper, ginger, peppermint, bay leaf, and basil.
Never ingest essential oils, and don’t use them directly on your skin, as they can cause irritation.
The correct thing is to dilute about 10 drops in a tablespoon of carrier oil (such as olive or almond), and then apply and massage. You should also store them in dark containers out of direct light.
Try covering the number of drops by combining different essential oils.
Until there is significant scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should exercise extreme caution.
Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, first talk to your doctor about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.
Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.
Scientific evidence shows that many herbs and foods have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects similar to those of common medications, making them especially useful for common pain relief, such as knee pain, without serious side effects.
Some, such as ginger, turmeric, garlic, or cherries can be eaten, others, such as white willow, coffee and sage can be drunk in infusions, while others such as bay leaf, eucalyptus or mint, can be used for their essential oils.
If the pain persists despite the use of these options or the application of other types of care, the knee becomes blocked, appears disfigured or irritated, you should consult a health professional as soon as possible.
Sources consulted: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.