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Knee Injuries and pain

Parts of this were taken with permission from Essential Oils Overview and Reference Guide, published by: The Family Tree, 2008


see also Joint Pain or Muscle Pain

The knee joins the bones of the upper leg, the femur, and the bones of the lower leg, the tibia and fibula in the largest joint of the body.  It includes the patella (knee cap), tendons connecting to major muscles, and a number of ligaments that provide stability and Knee jointstrength to the joint.  To facilitate smooth movement in the knee the bone surfaces of the femur and tibia in the joint area are covered with a layer of cartilage.  The movement is further enhanced with two “shock absorbers” between the femur and tibia known as the medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus.  The menisci are also made of cartilage and are sometimes referred to as the cartilage. A membrane encapsulates the knee and maintains the synovial fluid that adds lubrication to the rubbing surfaces. Finally at strategic points in the knee are bursae, small fluid filled sac like structures, which lie between tendons and bone and other locations to lubricate and protect during motion.

With the complexity of the knee it is understandable that there are a number of different injuries and aches and pains associated with these joints.  Some injuries come with athletic or similar physical activity.  Common are tears and strains of the major stabilizing ligaments of the knee.  Injury, continual wear, and time can also take its toll on the menisci resulting in what is commonly called a torn cartilage.  Beyond this there are a number of conditions that can cause pain and discomfort.  The following list from MedicineNet.com is a comprehensive summary of knee disorders:

  Baker’s cyst – this commonly is a result of another knee problem such as arthritis or a torn meniscus.  It is swelling in the knee as excess synovial fluid (the lubricant of the knee) builds up in the back of the knee.

  Bursitis – any of the bursa in the knee may become inflamed causing this painful condition. See also Bursitis

  Gout – excess uric acid form small crystals that can be deposited in the synovial fluid of the knee and other joints.  See also Gout.

  Iliotibial band syndrome – this is a band that runs from the outside of the leg from the hip to the tibia.  It can become inflamed and be painful especially on the outside of the knee joint as the iliotibial band joins the tibia.

  Infection – infection in any area of the knee and the associated inflammation can result in a great deal of pain.

  Lupus - and other connective tissue disorders can be associated with knee pain. see Autoimmune diseases.

  Osgood-Schlatter condition – a painful condition affecting primarily teens in a growth spurt period and active in athletics.  The condition is caused by microfractures in the lump on the tibia just below the knee cap.

  Osteoarthritis – Usually with age cartilage wears away and bone on bone pain results. see Arthritis.

  Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune disorder (that more commonly affects smaller joints) causing inflammation and can result in bone loss.  see Arthritis.

  Tendonitis – when connective tissue that connects bones to the muscles becomes inflamed this type of pain results.  See also Tendonitis.


[search helps: menisci, medial, lateral collateral ligament. anterior cruciate ligament, ACL, posterior cruciate ligament, PCL, chondromalacia patella, popliteal space]

Oils, blends & products recommended:

Oils & Blends:

General: Massage Blend, Soothing Blend, Lavender, Lemongrass, Frankincense, Marjoram, Peppermint, Wintergreen

Circulation & warming: Cinnamon, Clove, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Oregano, Peppermint

Pain: Birch, Soothing Blend, Tension Blend, White Fir, Wintergreen

Tissue repair: Frankincense, Helichrysum, Lemongrass

Essential oils based products: Soothing Blend Rub, Basic Vitality Supplements (LLV)

Also consider: Grounding Blend, Cypress, Ginger, Grapefruit, Rosemary

Suggested protocols:

For a mild injury Soothing Blend Rub is a prepared ointment with a great blend of essential oils. 

For more severe injury use a blend of oils to limit pain, increases circulation and repair tissue. Consider Soothing Blend®, Cypress, Lemongrass or other combinations. Ttypically applied 2 -3 times daily directly to the affected areas using light massage. Use a hot compress after massage application for deeper penetration and relief.

See Sprains for more detailed day by day suggestions.

Experiences and Testimonials of others

Debbie - Are any of you runners?  There seem to be many oils that address "sore muscles."  Anyone have any good experience with the typical sore muscles after you run?  Also, after I ran my first marathon, I injured my knee two years ago- IT band and meniscus.   Any suggestions to get it completely healed and strengthened?

Monica - I'm not a runner, but as a body worker, I help them.  I'd suggest White Fir as an excellent choice for sore muscles, Wintergreen and Frankincense are both awesome for inflammation - I personally prefer to use both of those together.  Also, if you can find someone in your area that does Sports Massage or Deep Tissue Therapeutic Massage, in order to address that IT band, you'll likely be pleased with the results.  I believe that you are absolutely on track to use Helichrysum on the knee.  I'd suggest adding a drop of Frankincense to that area as well.

I'm a Licensed Massage Therapist.  In my experience, it's that super-tight IT band (longest tendon in the body) that is definitely the root of many a knee issue.  It is usually already a super-strong tendon, so strengthening it isn't the issue so much as stretching it is.  The way I work on it is - with the client on the table (I do this in both prone and supine positions), using either the heel of my hand or the back of my fist (or both, depending upon the body), apply pressure on the band just above the knee, working deeply but VERY slowly, then glide toward the greater trocanter (aka the direction of the hip joint).  It is VERY important to work SLOWLY on most bodies, as this is INTENSE work and can be quite painful if rushed (it's not comfortable even done slowly, but can be tolerated  by most).  Athletes - in particular - benefit from work in this area.  If you have a willing partner, you can encourage 'maintenance' work at home. 

Again, follow up with a nice rub of Wintergreen and/or Frankincense (or Massage Blend) or whatever draws your attention in the moment.  And I agree with others that the Wellness Trio supplements are vital. 

Marti - I would say the supplements are a must, then add Soothing Blend and Massage Blend to your daily routine.  My husband ran the Ragnar (204 mile relay) a couple of months ago and did fine with just these two oils. 

Dana - I went skiing last weekend and felt pain in my knees, so I used the Tension Blend roll-on.  Worked like a charm!


Marti - What do you think for knee pain.  The pain is coming from swelling due to fluid on the knee.  It was infected, the doctor gave an antibiotic for that, but the pain and swelling are still there and she wants to try something new.

Samara - Lemongrass, Soothing Blend and Frankincense work really well for knee pain. You might want to try Grounding Blend or Grapefruit for the swelling.  

Pat - Adding Helichrysum for the inflammation will help a lot.

Rob – My friend Jon is an ex basketball player that has dealt with knee pain for much of his life.  He is now pain free after consistent use of the Basic Vitality Supplements (LLV).  

Daniel - I will recommend the EOmega supplement, you need to make the Omega3 fatty oils part of your life. Various conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, are rooted in the body's inflammatory response. And since omega-3 fats help curb inflammation, these fats show promise in the treatment of arthritis and Knee issues. Several studies have shown that regularly consuming 2 to 3 grams of omega-3 fats helps decrease joint tenderness and swelling in those with rheumatoid arthritis.


Denise - I know a gentleman who a couple years ago tore the meniscus in his knee. He had surgery to repair it. He is a very active person and has recently started trying to roller blade and surf again. But the pain is extreme and his knee is stiff and swollen. Any suggestions? Can oil "heal" the meniscus after it's been damaged?

Rob - I would consider 3 drops of Wintergreen and 3 drops of Cypress, 3 times daily, rubbed topically on the knee (either neat or with a carrier). Other oils that may be helpful include Marjoram and Soothing Blend.

I would also HIGHLY recommend the Basic Vitality Supplements (LLV).  I have heard numerous stories of people with back, neck and knee issues that have been resolved after only a few short weeks with the LLV.


David - I had my right knee scoped about 18 months ago, and was doing really well until I took a rough hike while seeing some of the Nez Perce battle sites. Since then (six weeks ago), my knee has been swollen and painful. My orthopedist wanted to give me a cortisone shot, but I declined; he left, saying I'd be back when the pain got bad enough.  I've tried Wintergreen, and Wintergreen and Lavender, but am not getting much help. Maybe some of you have some suggestions?

 Pat - Soothing Blend and Peppermint or Frankincense and Soothing Blend or Helichrysum and Peppermint, also Marjoram is great for the muscle around the knee. There are a plethora of oils you can use, be intuitive and you will use the one best for you.

 Debbie - Lemongrass is amazing.  What is nice is that it is so inexpensive for being such a potent oil.  Definitely you should have that in the mix.  I also have had good success with Helichrysum and Marjoram - also Frankincense.  (I have heard White Fir is poor man's Frankincense.)  I too was going to suggest Birch. 

 Pete - Did you have a meniscus tear? If not, what was the reason for the scope? Personally, I stay away from anything anti-inflammatory from the doctors/OTC and that includes staying away from ice if I can. The inflammation is part of your bodies natural healing process. Since white tissue has little or no blood flow, it's the inflammation that brings the building blocks (the material) to repair that tissue. They're called fibroblasts and this creates a "pea soup" around the injury to initiate the healing process.

  What has worked best for me is Lemongrass, Clove, Helichrysum, White Fir and Marjoram.  It has helped me from having to go through a complete knee reconstruction. You may also want to give Birch a try instead of Wintergreen.  Layering Peppermint last should help if the injury isn't too deep inside the  knee.

Anonymous - Try Soothing Blend and Lavender, it worked well for my sister.


FBW - Does anyone know of oils that a person would be doing before laproscopic surgery on her knee? I was thinking of before and after surgery. She is already taking the supplements.

Jan - If it were me, I'd start with Grounding Blend on my feet and then apply Birch if you have it, if not then Wintergreen and Cypress, Peppermint, Marjoram and Lavender. Other good choices are Soothing Blend, Basil, Lemongrass, and MJ Assist.

Rob - I agree with the oils already suggested completely.  I found this protocol in my collection from a long time ago, and adjusted it to include the (...) Massage Blend technique. Surgery protocol:


  Drink plenty of water with Lemon, pre and post op.  Hopefully she takes the supplements.

  The weeks prior do at least two Massage Blend techniques.  This will help clear the body of inflammation, increase the immune response of the body. And relax the body in preparation for the trauma.  You could do more if you wanted.

  The two days prior, I would apply Grounding Blend, Vetiver, and Frankincense with massage to my shoulders neck and brain stem this will additionally release stress and strengthen emotional response

  The two days prior, I would apply Protective Blend, Clary Sage, Frankincense and Basil to the region of the surgery (knee in this case)  You are reducing inflammation in the area, protecting against toxins and bacteria or MRSA.

  Daily, for the week prior, I would also apply Protective Blend to the bottom of the feet.  Toxic protection.

Post Op:

  As soon as possible after the surgery, apply Peppermint and Basil to the area of surgery. This will increase blood flow and circulation to the area, aiding healing.  If there is any excessive bleeding, you can apply Geranium or Helichrysum instead.

  Use Clary Sage and Birch or Massage Blend if there is any cramping of the muscles in the area of the surgery.

  Also apply Frankincense and Protective Blend and Oregano with carrier to the area as soon as possible to combat post op inflammation or MRSA.

  If the hospital will let you, diffuse Frankincense and Protective Blend in the room several times per day.  If they are hesitant, make a small sptitzer with a few drops of each and 2-3 tablespoons of water and spay your bed and area with the mixture several times per day.

  As soon as is possible after surgery, start the Massage Blend technique again doing it at least twice over the next week or more.  This will do wonders in bringing the body back into balance or homeostasis.  It will also balance your nervous system and reduce the physiological impact of surgery trauma. Do Not underestimate how powerful Massage Blend can be for surgery recovery. 

Protocols folks recommend for children



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NOTE: The advice shared in this site has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help. As members offer or look for answers, kindly understand that essential oils work to help to bring the body into balance - thus helping the body's natural defenses to restore homeostasis. Essential oils are not used to "treat" medical problems.