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How to Heal a Bad Knee

Your knee is the largest joint in your body and can be easily injured. Knee pain and injuries can strike individuals of all ages and activity levels. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that knee-related ailments are the most common reason for visiting an orthopedic surgeon's office. In 2003, nearly 19.4 million individuals visited a doctor complaining of knee problems. Knee problems can include torn cartilage, damaged ligaments, fractures, dislocations, sprains, bursitis and tendinitis. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to heal a bad knee.

RICE Method

Step 1

Use the R.I.C.E. method for mild knee injuries. R.I.C.E. stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Rest your knee by staying off it as much as possible; if necessary, use crutches to walk. 

Step 2

Apply ice to the injured knee. Ice your leg for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, every three to four hours, to help reduce swelling. 

Step 3

Apply a compression bandage -- or light elastic bandage -- to help ease pain and swelling. Lightly wrap the bandage around your knee. Avoid wrapping the bandage too tightly so that you do not cut off your circulation.

Step 4

Use pillows to elevate your knee above heart level for the first day or two following your injury. Elevation can help ease potential swelling associated with a knee injury. 

Other Considerations

Step 1

Ease the pain of your injury by taking over-the-counter pain medication as indicated on the bottle. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help reduce pain and inflammation in your knee.

Step 2

Complete home exercises to help ease pain and increase the function of your knee. Complete exercises in one set of 10 repetitions. Perform quadriceps stretches, hamstring stretches, wall squats and straight leg raises.

Step 3

Ride a stationary bike or participate in other low-impact exercises, such as swimming. Aim to participate in 20 to 30 minutes of low-impact exercise daily to help strengthen your knees gently. 


Visit with a doctor if pain does not subside after three days. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible if you have severe pain, hear a popping noise at the time of your injury, cannot move your knee, are limping and have severe swelling at the site of your injury.

Weigh your treatment options. If you visit with a physician, your doctor may provide you with treatment options depending on the type of knee pan or injury you are experiencing. Options may include prescription pain medication,physical therapy, bracing, the use of crutches, steroid injections or surgery.

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