How To Treat Knee Pain From Basketball

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  • Common knee injuries from playing basketball include ACL injuries, meniscus tears, patella tendonitis, and more.
  • Treatment options for basketball knee pain include pain management strategies, physical therapy, and the RICE method. 
  • Knee replacement surgery is a last resort option that can provide long-term relief if other methods do not work.
  • Always consult an expert healthcare provider if you experience lasting joint pain that does not improve after a few days.

Many basketball players are unfortunately no strangers to knee pain. Knee pain can interfere with your ability to maintain your physical activity as well as your daily activities. Basketball players are especially at risk of an injury to the knee because of the speed and intensity of the sport and the amount of pressure it puts on the joints.

On the bright side, knowing how to care for your knee in the process can make a big difference in preventing and addressing knee pain. Understanding how to treat knee pain from basketball is important for staying on the top of your game—knowing the potential causes and treatment methods can help you stay on the court and minimize the risk of long-term injury.

Causes of Knee Pain in Basketball Players

Basketball is an intense, high-impact sport, which can make injuries and knee pain more likely. Elements of playing basketball, like running, jumping, and contact with other players, can take a toll on your joints over time, especially your knees.

Common basketball-related injuries that lead to knee pain include:

  • ACL Injuries – The ACL stabilizes the knee joint and limits rotational knee movement. A strain or tear can be painful and limiting.  
  • Meniscus tears – The meniscus is a ligament responsible for managing the load intensity on your knee. A meniscus tear can increase stress and pain in the joint.
  • Patella tendonitis – Also known as jumper’s knee, this condition occurs when the tendon at the front of the knee is inflamed due to trauma or injury.

If you’re a basketball player and experience consistent knee pain, it’s crucial to seek a proper diagnosis before you seek treatment. Receiving a proper diagnosis from a trained professional will ensure you receive appropriate treatment.

Ways To Treat Knee Pain

Although there are many different causes of knee pain, there are also several potential options for treating it when it does occur. From making simple changes while playing sports to trying more intensive options like surgery, those who experience knee pain can explore a variety of treatment interventions.

Utilizing the Proper Gear & Techniques

When knee pain is the result of having insufficient gear and poor technique, correcting these issues can go a long way toward offering relief and minimizing the risk of future issues.


For a sport that involves running back and forth down a court and jumping to grab rebounds, proper footwear is essential in basketball. Good shoes for the sport will provide cushion that takes stress off the knee and your other joints. Be sure to choose footwear that fits comfortably and is snug to your feet.


How you move when playing basketball also makes a significant difference on the impact on your knee. Proper mechanics are crucial for minimizing your risk of injury. Maintaining good technique means carefully jumping, landing, and pivoting.

If you play frequently, you should work with a coach to correct your form and help you master the proper mechanics. Using the proper technique will both reduce the amount of stress on your joints and improve your capabilities at the sport.

Advanced Methods for the Best Results

At The Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale, we combine compassionate care with state-of-the-art technology to provide you with the best possible outcome for total and partial knee replacements.

R.I.C.E Methods for Pain Relief

RICE is a common method used to care for an injured area. This method helps relieve pain and swelling, while it can also promote healing and flexibility. 

RICE consists of the following principles:

  • Rest – Rest your knee by staying off it and refraining from physical activity.
  • Ice – Ice helps minimize pain and swelling in the knee. You should ice the area for 10 minute intervals a few times a day.
  • Compression – Use a compression sleeve to wrap the injured knee and promote blood flow to the area for recovery.
  • Elevation – Lifting the knee above the height of the heart helps to reduce inflammation and pain. Place your leg on a pillow to raise it while resting.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a treatment method that uses exercise and movement to heal and cope with an injured joint—this makes it a helpful method for addressing knee pain. This approach uses exercises to strengthen the area around the joint, increase flexibility, and boost mobility.

Physical therapy incorporates these exercises to improve your knee’s condition:

  • Muscle strengthening exercises – These exercises help build up the supporting muscles in the knee to reduce the stress on the knee itself.
  • Flexibility exercises – Flexibility exercises include stretching to reduce tension in the knee and improve mobility of the joint.
  • Balance & stability exercises – These exercises will help improve your ability to function with the injured knee, allowing you to work through and cope with an injury.

Consult a doctor who can prescribe physical therapy if they determine it’s a good option for you.

Pain Management

Pain management strategies do not treat the direct source of knee pain, but they can help provide relief by reducing pain and inflammation in and around the joint.

Pain management options include:

  • Over-the-counter pain medications
  • If recommended by a medical provider, prescription medications
  • Heating pads
  • Topical treatments, like creams & gels

Keep in mind that these strategies are great for providing temporary relief as the knee heals. However, if the pain continues for an extended period of time, you should seek an alternative solution.

Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement surgery is an option for anyone who has found little to no relief from other holistic methods. That said, it is often a last-resort option and is often only recommended after exhausting all other approaches.

Knee replacement surgery involves replacing the diseased portion of a joint with a metal or plastic synthetic material. Surgery is a long-term option for addressing the root cause of pain, reducing pain, and improving mobility in the joint.

As you consider surgery, it’s important to discuss your options with a qualified surgeon to receive more guidance and support on the process. Start with a consultation to find out if knee surgery and the preparation surrounding it is a good idea for you.

Get Back to the Activities You Love

Basketball knee pain can prevent you from engaging in an activity you love and even affect your ability to navigate your day-to-day routine. Fortunately, knowing how to treat and prevent knee pain can go a long way toward keeping you on the court.

Whether you’re experiencing joint pain from basketball or other activities, the Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale can help you find a path to relief, whether that involves surgery or alternative therapies. Our caring and compassionate team will work with you to understand your condition and the origins of your pain. Then, we’ll develop a personalized treatment program to ensure you get the care you need to begin the path to joint relief and recovery.

If surgery is right for you, we’ll use the latest surgical methods and state-of-the-art technology to ensure a smooth procedure. Dr. Martin and our team of surgeons at JRCS have a track record of successful knee replacement surgeries that support patients with long-term joint pain relief.

Schedule a consultation with us today to get started on your journey to pain-free joints.