You probably never realized how much you rely on your knees until they started to hurt. Chronic knee pain is so difficult to manage precisely because your knees are engaged whether you are standing or sitting, walking or biking, climbing stairs or trying to find a comfortable position in bed. Yep, when your knees hurt, it can take over your entire day.
Whether caused by arthritis, bursitis, or injury, there are many remedies for pain and inflammation that can help get you moving again. Unfortunately, many OTC and prescription drugs come with hefty side effects that can eclipse the original complaint. Acetaminophen, for example, is the leading cause of liver failure worldwide.
You may be surprised to learn just how much your diet can affect pain levels, especially when it comes to inflammation. We have collected 11 foods that do wonders for knee pain. Incorporating more of them into your daily diet can reduce your dependence on pain medication and keep you healthier overall.
We think you’ll love #11 enough to eat it every day, but be careful with #7 – it’s only edible in certain forms!
Eating carrots to relieve knee pain is actually an ancient Chinese remedy. It works because the orange veggie is packed with beta-carotene and vitamin A, both powerful anti-inflammatory compounds.
The secret to enjoying the max strength of carrots is to eat them cooked, but if you hate cooked carrots, eating them raw is still good. Try for two servings each day to reduce your knee pain.
Curry-lovers, rejoice! You are already doing wonders for your achy knees. Curry contains turmeric – that’s what makes it orange – and turmeric has a lot of something called curcumin.
Curcumin has actually been used for centuries in herbal medicine because of its anti-inflammatory ability. Eating a lot of it can reduce your risk of developing painful joint conditions in the first place, and also nearly matches ibuprofen in its capacity for pain relief.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is good for way more than salad dressing. You can get relief from your knee pain by both drinking it and applying it topically. When you drink it (2 tablespoons per day), apple cider vinegar can dissolve toxins within the knee that tend to spark inflammation.
The same effect occurs when you mix ACV with olive oil and massage it into your painful knees once a day for a week.
Ginger is another food that can be both eaten and rubbed on tender knees. Both are great, because it tastes and smells really good. The active ingredient in ginger is called gingerol and it is a strong anti-inflammatory substance.
In fact, in studies of arthritis sufferers, adding ginger to a medication regimen was found to reduce pain further than with medicine alone. Enjoy ginger grated into all sorts of sweet and savory meals, or make a tea. Premade ginger oil is fantastic to rub directly on those swollen knees.
Walnuts are king among nuts in terms of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, which makes them ideal for soothing knee pain.
Some studies also suggest that despite their high calorie count, eating walnuts regularly can reduce junk food cravings and therefore help you lose weight. Shedding a few pounds is another good strategy to reduce stress on painful knees.
6. Whole Grains
Eating a ton of whole grains can reduce the inflammation that causes pain in your knees, especially as a result of exercise. Eating refined grains, on the other hand, causes more inflammation.
Skip the white bread in favor of products that retain all three parts of the original grain – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Great choices include brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, barley, and breads made with whole grain flour.
7. Mustard Oil
Be careful when you buy mustard oil. It’s not safe to eat unless the label reads mustard essential oil. Straight mustard oil can be mixed with olive or coconut oil and massaged on painful knees, but don’t consume it.
Mustard essential oil is a spicy addition to meals that can promote a healthy blood flow to the affected area, while at the same time reducing inflammation. Get even more benefits when you sauté a little onion and garlic with your mustard oil. Both of these contain allicin, which also has anti-inflammatory abilities.
Avocados owe their creamy texture to the presence of lots of healthy unsaturated fat. Most of it is in the form of oleic acid, which studies show can lower particular biomarkers of inflammation. Whatever the cause of your knee pain, your pain will decrease as inflammation abates. Avocado is one of the only foods that can also minimize the ability of other foods to generate inflammation, which makes it very helpful to add to almost any meal.
9. Tart Cherries
Tart cherries, or their juice, can be a real boon to people with chronic knee pain. Cherries get their vibrant red color from plant chemicals called anthocyanins, which can settle down that agonizing inflammation.
Tart cherries have also been found in studies to reduce flare-ups in people with gout, a type of arthritis that causes knee pain due to hard crystals that form in the joints.
10. Red Peppers
Red peppers are especially good for knee pain because they contain a high amount of vitamin C. This crucial nutrient supports the production of collagen, which provides structure to joints and connects muscle to bone.
That reduces pain by supporting the tendons, cartilage, and ligaments that cushion the knee joints and keep them in proper alignment. Rather than a direct pain reliever, eating foods high in vitamin C actually improves the condition of your knees.
11. Pineapple, Cinnamon and Oat Smoothie
And finally, when you’re looking for a knee-friendly way to start your day, try this pineapple, cinnamon, and oat smoothie. You’ll get whole grains, vitamin C, and a powerful anti-inflammatory called bromelain, found in pineapple.
Cinnamon reduces joint swelling and pain, as well as adds a flavorful kick. To make it, gather together: 1 cup cooked oats, 1 cup orange juice, 3 cups chopped pineapple, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 cup water, and 1 teaspoon honey. Add all ingredients except the oats into your blender. Turn it on low and after 20 seconds or so, carefully add in the cooked oatmeal. Blend until smooth and enjoy!
Each of these foods can help to reduce inflammation, the primary source of pain when it comes to your joints. Your body uses inflammation as a defense mechanism to keep an injury or illness contained to one location, and that’s good. But often there is no risk of spread yet inflammation occurs anyway. In this case, there is no reason to suffer.
Eating a balanced diet full of the foods on our list can go a long way toward quelling inflammation and pain. A better diet will alleviate your pain, but also keep you feeling great overall and reduce your dependence on pain medication.