When pain or inflammation occurs in your knee, the fastest way to reduce pain and swelling is by relieving pressure from the knee, followed by heat or cold therapy. Other treatments include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy, which can build strength in muscles surrounding your knee to prevent future swelling and pain. If pain continues after four or five days of treatment, it is important to contact your physician in case your swelling is a symptom of a different medical condition.
"Protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation" is a pain relief treatment commonly used by athletes, and it can reduce inflammation and knee pain when used shortly after the injury occurs. The key is to stay off the injured knee for at least 48 hours, followed by applying heat or ice to the knee to reduce inflammation. It is important to create a barrier between the heating/cooling pack and your skin, as direct contact can cause skin irritation or burning. Do not leave the ice pack on for longer than 20 minutes. Wrap the knee with a bandage to decrease swelling, and elevate the leg to promote blood flow. Bandages can be found at most drugstores. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should raise your leg above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be used temporarily to ease pain and lower inflammation when used daily, according to Anthony B. Carey, author of "The Pain-Free Program." Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories include naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen. Avoid using medication for longer than seven days, as liver or kidney damage can occur, as well as bleeding because of the medication's blood-thinning ability. Contact your doctor if knee pain persists more than four days. Use the medication as directed on the label to reduce the possibility of side effects that include nausea, headache, rash, dizziness and loss of appetite.
Reducing your knee swelling can be accomplished with limited physical exercise to prevent loss of your range of motion in your knee and to strengthen your muscles, according to "The Pain-Free Program." Therapy involves several repetitions of leg lifts and other strenuous exercises that focus on your quads, hamstrings, hip, calf and ankle, according to the Mayo Clinic. Alternative exercises include water walking, which helps strengthen your muscles because of the resistance of the water. Water walking is commonly used for arthritis patients, as it reduces stress on joints and builds muscle, according to the Arthritis Foundation.