Treating knee pains first hand is important to alleviate both pain and to control the worsening symptoms of a possible knee trauma. Just like treating a wound with some disinfectant, continued exposure of the joint to stressful conditions will only worsen the condition and will lead to several complications over all.
The initial step to take when treating knee conditions is to identify whether the area is inflamed, or not. Injury and related accidents, day by day stress and age can all cause weakening, irritation and discomfort. Inflammation is a falling spiral. Once it succeeds in affecting an area, it does not stop but continues to spread. What you should do is to contain the inflammation, remove the irritants, alleviate the surrounding pain and control the whole area. You'd need anti-inflammatory medication, to protect the local areas that have not yet been inflamed.
First and foremost is the localization of the injured or pained area. Identify where it is hurting and keep the damage to a minimum by preventing motion towards it and protecting the affected area with some sort of padding or shock absorbent material. Apply a cool material in the area to control the inflammation. Ice bags are a given, as they can be easily found almost anywhere with a refrigerator. Make sure to keep the area cool to prevent the occurrence of the inflammation from acting up.
When you are able to allow yourself time for bed rest, do so. A lot. Resting allows time for your body to assess the damage and start repairing itself. When you walk, you stress your knees, and when you do, you impede recovery. While resting, compress the ice, padding and the injured area to get maximum cooling effect. Keeping the swelling down aids in recovery. This also helps in terms of acute injuries like breaks and fractures in the knee cap and bone.
Raise the knee above head level to allow any fluid to drain away and go back into your body. Allowing fluid to accumulate into the irritated area will complicate matters later on. Using a chair, or the side of your bed is okay (if you can sleep in a sleeping bag or a futon). A recliner or binding your foot to hang above you while you sleep is also fine.