Using RICE Treatment to Help Knee Pain

Posted on Nov 20, 2019, by

Whether it’s caused by an injury, arthritis or different medical condition, minor knee pain may be treated by simple self-care measures and precautions taken at home. The exact symptoms of knee pain are different for everyone, but they often present as a constant ache, sharp pain when in use, dull discomfort or even swelling.

RICE is often recommended as the first step to alleviate knee pain. Read on to learn more about the RICE knee treatment and when you should  see a doctor.

What exactly is the RICE knee treatment?

In a nutshell, RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Combined, these fours steps can help reduce pain, minimize swelling and help heal your injury. However, if the pain and swelling continue to get worse, it’s time to see a doctor.

The RICE treatment Is a first step for many types of joint pain, from shoulders to knees to ankles.


The saying, “no pain, no gain,” does not apply to a knee injury. If you’ve injured your knee, rest is essential. Reduce activity level and avoid any activities that are causing the knee pain. If you have rested your knee and followed the RICE treatment for a week or two, and the pain still persists, it is time to visit your doctor. 

Listening to your body is important. If an activity is causing you pain, continue to avoid it until your knee feels better. If the pain continues, feels worse or even different than usual, call your doctor. The longer you wait the more you risk the injury getting worse.


To heal knee pain, ice is the next important step in the RICE treatment. Place a bag of ice, cold pack or even a bag of frozen peas on the knee four to eight times a day, 20 minutes at a time. If the ice is too cold, place a towel between the cold pack and the knee.


The C in RICE for knee pain stands for compression. Use an elastic medical bandage around the injured knee to help with swelling. The bandage should be wrapped snugly, but not so tightly that it interferes with blood flow. Warning signs that the bandage is too tight are:   if the skin below the knee starts to feel tingly or numb or the skin starts to turn blue. If either of these occur, loosen the bandage immediately.


Last, but certainly not least, is elevation in RICE for knee treatment. Keep the injured knee raised above the heart as often as you can. This can help reduce the throbbing, swelling and even pain. 

It might seem difficult to get your knee above your heart, but it’s not as tricky as it sounds. One way is to sit or lay down on the couch and prop the hurt leg up with pillows.  For those who practice yoga, lay on the floor and put your knees up on a chair or ottoman.

When is it time to see a doctor for knee pain?

Unfortunately, some knee injuries require more than just the at-home RICE knee treatment. If you experience any of these more severe symptoms then it’s  time to call a doctor.

  • The pain is severe and you can’t put any weight on your knee.
  • You can’t bend or move the knee.
  • Taking more than four steps causes severe pain.
  • There is numbness in or around the knee.
  • There is pain in a previously-injured knee.
  • The knee buckles when in use.
  • There are lumps or bumps other than general swelling.
  • The knee looks crooked.
  • If after you’ve tried the RICE method for more than a week and the pain or swelling continues, it’s time to call an orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation.

Questions about the the RICE treatment or the other options for treating knee pain? Contact our team at The Kennedy Center, click here. 




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