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Non-medical Treatment and Management

Treatment choices will depend on several things including the severity of your knee pain and the availability of the various options. Talk with your healthcare professionals to make sure your treatment and management options are right for you.


Hot and cold packs can provide some relief for painful joints

When the pain is greater than usual, sometimes referred to as a ‘flare’, cold packs can help to reduce inflammation and, in this way, reduce the associated pain. A few days after the worst of your flare, wrapping a heating pad or warm, damp towel around your knee may also help relieve aches and pains. Heat relaxes the muscles and increases blood circulation.


Supports or aids

A walking aid may help to reduce knee pain by lightening the load on the painful joint. Aids that your physiotherapist may suggest to reduce knee pain includes walking stick, taping the kneecap (patella), knee braces, orthoses (small wedges placed in your shoe to improve the allignment (position) of your knee when standing and walking). See a physiotherapist or occupational therapist for advice about any of these aids or supports.


Weight control or weight loss1

Increased body weight places extra burden on weight-bearing joints such as knees, hips and the back. In this way, being overweight or obese can worsen the condition and the associated knee pain.


Be active1

The body is designed for movement. Increasing physical activity can reduce symptoms and alleviate pain. By contrast, sitting still or lying still for long periods is often associated with joint pain. Inactivity can contribute to the degeneration of the joint.

Research shows that regular physical activity can help, specifically to:

  • Improve joint mobility and flexibility
  • Increase muscle strength
  • Improve balance and posture
  • Decrease pain
  • Decrease fatigue (tiredness)
  • Decrease stress and muscle tension


What exercise can I do?

For people with damaged joints, the exercise needs to be low impact and appropriate to each person’s individual physical condition, your health and your lifestyle. For this reason, talking with a healthcare professional, such as your physiotherapist, is recommended.

Every little bit of activity helps, including walking, light housework, dancing and taking the stairs. You can start in patches of 10 minutes and gradually build up. Warm-up and cool down with gentle stretches and movements.

Make sure your pain management is sufficient to allow you to stay as active as possible. Never exercise through unusual or increasing pain. If the pain gets worse, consult your healthcare professional.

Other non-medical treatment and management that may help to relieve pain and make you feel better includes massage, acupuncture, other alternative/complementary medicines and mind techniques such as relaxation and distraction.



  1. 1. My Joint Pain Fact Sheets, An initiative of Arthritis Australia, launched February 2013. www.myjointpain.org.au*. Accessed 15 April 2013.
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