Is Ice or Heat Better for Knee Pain?

Knee pain can be caused by ligament or tendon strains, bursitis and even arthritis. Whatever the case, it is always best to rest the knee after an injury and use both ice and heat at the appropriate time.


It is crucial to get ice on the knee during the first 48 hours after an injury. Blood vessels usually rupture after an injury and the blood can increase the swelling and inflammation in the knee. Ice temporarily restricts blood flow and limits the flow of blood, according to

Time Frame For Using Ice

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Ice should be used for 15 to 20 minutes every two to four hours. After the first couple days, you should also use ice after physical activity.

Effects of Heat

Heat should be used after several days. Heat promotes blood flow to the knee area, which carries oxygen and nutrients that are needed for healing.

Other Benefits of Heat

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Heat can help control swelling once the ice treatment has been completed. Heat can also help relax ligaments, tendons and nerves in the knee.


Sometimes, varying ice and heat treatments can help control inflammation and pain. For example, if knee pain flares up, ice can be used to reduce inflammation and pain. Subsequently, heat treatment can follow when the inflammation is under control.


Ice is better for knee pain during the first 48 hours after an injury. Heat is only recommended after the ice treatment is complete.