What can I do about knee pain?

Relieving knee pain and regaining mobility 

There are many things you can do to help relieve your knee pain and keep you active and mobile. The best thing to do is talk to your doctor about which options will benefit you most. To help you discuss treatments, here are some of the options your doctor may discuss with you, depending on your condition and pain levels: 

Treatment options

Are you experiencing knee pain and restricted activity? What treatment options are best for you? 

This short video gives you some useful information about knee treatment options. Contact your GP for more information.

Weight management and exercise

Weight management and exercise

When you speak to your doctor about treatment for joint pain, he or she may recommend a balanced diet to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Additional pressure on weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips can aggravate any joint problems you may have, so by reducing your weight, you can reduce this pressure and the pain it causes. It will also reduce the risks of surgery if this is necessary.  

Exercise is also an important part of treatment for arthritis or other joint issues. Not only is it good for you, it will also help you maintain mobility in affected joints. Your doctor may discuss an exercise program for you, or refer you to a physiotherapist.   

Rest and joint care

Rest and joint care

Often, the most effective way to improve your condition is simple rest and rehabilitation.

For example:

Rest – short-term bed rest helps reduce joint inflammation and pain, and is especially useful when several joints are affected by arthritic conditions and fatigue is part of the problem. Resting individual joints is most effective when arthritis affects one or two specific joints.

Heat and cold therapy – depending on the type of arthritis you’re experiencing, and which joints it affects, heating pads or ice packs can help relieve swelling, maintain mobility and reduce pain.

Assistive devices -  using canes, walkers, raised toilet seats and other assistive devices can help preserve your joints and make everyday tasks much easier.



Your doctor may recommend or refer you to a physiotherapist to help you manage osteoarthritis (OA) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Your GP can provide guidance on applying for funded visits to a private physiotherapist or you can refer yourself directly if you have private physiotherapy health cover / extras. Check with your health fund for information on your coverage.

A physiotherapist will discuss and assess your condition, and suggest simple exercises that will preserve the strength of muscles around affected joints and help maintain your mobility.For example, they will suggest the best ways to move positions, such as from sitting to standing – and if you have been recommended a walking aid, like a stick or frame, they will show you the best way to use it. A physiotherapist will teach you appropriate exercises which may include activities such as exercising in warm water pools. The buoyancy takes the pressure off the joint which may mean you can exercise with less pain and do walking in the pool. A physiotherapist will teach you appropriate exercises.



There are many different medications used to treat arthritis, depending upon the type and severity of your condition. Common arthritis medications include:

  • Analgesics and pain relievers – these can offer temporary relief from arthritis pain, and may include Paracetamol, Aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. These may be useful to you if your arthritis is only in one or a few joints, or if your pain is unwelcome but not severe.

  • Corticosteroid medicines or injections – if your arthritis pain is more severe, these offer more effective relief.  Injections can provide fast and very effective pain relief, but should only be administered a few times in each year, as they can weaken bone and cartilage.

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin – these are nutritional supplements that relieve joint pain for many, but not all, patients.

Knee surgery procedures

Knee surgery procedures

Restoring your mobility for the long term

If arthritis or knee injury is limiting your everyday activities, such as walking and bending, and you still experience pain when resting, your doctor may recommend knee replacement surgery. It can also overcome the stiffness in your knee that limits your ability to move or lift your leg.

Knee replacement surgery is considered after careful diagnosis of your joint problem. If anti-inflammatory drugs or if other treatments, such as physiotherapy, are providing little pain and mobility relief, you may wish to discuss this option with your doctor.

Next Steps

Contact your GP or health professional to discuss your options