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Pain In Muscle Above Knee

What Are The Causes Of Quadriceps Muscle Pain

Is This Small Muscle Behind Your Knee Causing Pain?
  • Contusion/bruise
  • The most common cause of the quadriceps muscle is a contusion/bruise, which is a direct blow to the anterior thigh, which is the cause of some blood vessels within the muscle being damaged & bleed.
  • This condition is produced by pain due to inflammation of the surrounding muscle.
  • Since the rectus femoris muscle which is part of the quadriceps muscle lies closest to the surface of the anterior thigh, it is the muscle most often contused.
  • Compartment syndrome
  • When the do significant bleeding into the quadriceps muscle, this occurs due to the compartment syndrome in this condition apply pressure in the compartment so that pressure rises the quadriceps muscle higher than blood pressure, preventing form condition of muscle tissue from being supplied with the oxygen-rich blood is pumped from the heart.

Quadriceps muscle strain

  • The quadriceps muscle is strained due to overuse/overstretching.
  • This strain involves tendon fibers, muscle fibers & sometimes both.
  • These Muscle strains are categorized depending on the severity of the injury.
  • There are present of three different grades of muscle strains.
  • Grade 1 strains = Involve muscle fibers that are only stretched not torn.
  • Grade 2 strains = Involve a whole muscle that is partially torn with the more extensive damage.
  • Grade 3 strains = Occurs when a muscle is completely torn.

Inflammatory Upper Leg Pain Causes

Upper leg pain may result due to inflammatory processes, such as the following.

  • Autoimmune: Diseases that affect nerves, particularly in the lower back can deliver pain to the upper leg. Spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease are examples that can impact the upper leg.
  • Infections:Infections of the bones and tissues of the upper leg can result in swelling, redness, and pain.

This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

What Is Quadriceps Tendinopathy

Quadriceps tendonitis is inflammation of the quadriceps tendon where it attaches to the top of the kneecap.

In the early stages of quadriceps tendonitis, strain and overuse results in small tears in the tendon.

The body attempts to heal itself by increasing the blood flow to the area to bring in the oxygen, chemicals and nutrients needed for healing.

But unless there is sufficient period of rest, further tears develop and the tendon gradually breaks down and thickens in response to the ongoing wear and tear, known as quadriceps tendinosis.

The terms tendonitis and tendinosis are often used interchangeably, but they do refer to different things:

  • Quadriceps Tendonitis: early period after an injury where the main feature is inflammation. AKA quadriceps tendinitis
  • Quadriceps Tendinosis: longer-term, ongoing injury where the main feature is degeneration and scarring, not inflammation. AKA quadriceps tendonosis

The collective term for these is Quadriceps Tendinopathy, which can refer to either condition, and also encompasses damage to the patellar tendon below the kneecap.

Quadriceps tendinopathy can develop at the:

  • Patellar Tendon Origin: 65% of cases are at the bottom of the kneecap
  • Quadriceps Tendon Insertion: 25% of cases are at the top of the kneecap
  • Patellar Tendon Insertion: 10% of cases are at the tibial tuberosity on the shin bone

Read Also: How Long To Recover From Knee Replacement

Is Anything Strange Happening

Or really, Is anything strange happening beyond your knee pain?

For example, can you still flex your knee all the way? Most people get frightened when their knee locks and cant straighten anymore. Often the culprit is called Bakers cyst, a fluid-filled sac behind the knee caused by inflammation.

A also triggers concern for many people. Nobody wants to hear a click with every step. Sometimes, its harmless, but if that clicking comes with pain, you might have a mechanical problem such as a torn meniscus, Dr. Burg says.

These are just a few examples among many. The knee is a complicated andcritical part of your everyday life. So when you have pain that comes withserious symptoms or lasts for more than a week or two, seek the right diagnosisby getting a physical exam and any necessary imaging that comes with it.

Other Forms Of Tendonitis

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Other inflamed tendons around the knee may also lead to pain in the front of the knee. The quadriceps and hamstring tendons, if involved, may also result in knee pain.

The quadriceps tendon connects the muscles on the front of the thigh to the top of the kneecap, whereas the hamstring tendons connect the muscles of the back of the thigh to the top of the tibia.

Damage to and inflammation of any of these tendons can also cause pain in the front of the knee.

Recommended Reading: My Knees Hurt When I Walk

Understanding Knee Pain Diagnosis

Understanding what is causing your knee pain is the first, crucial step to overcoming knee pain. The knee pain diagnosis chart options here are very useful visual tools to help you work out what is wrong.

You can find out loads more about these conditions, the causes, symptoms and treatment options, by using the links above. Alternatively, if you want some more guidance, visit the knee pain diagnosis section.

Some useful articles that go alongside our knee pain diagnosis charts are:

There are lots of other causes of knee pain that dont appear on either of these knee pain diagnosis charts e.g. gout knee. They tend to cause more general, widespread knee pain, rather than pain in a specific locations so havent been included here on these knee pain diagnosis chart. You can find out more about them in the common knee conditions section.

Read Also: Does Heat Help Knee Pain

Where Is The Quadriceps Tendon

The quadriceps is a group of four muscles found on the anterior thigh. They work together to straighten the knee, and control knee flexion when you are on your feet. They play an important role in activities such as running, standing up from a chair, climbing stairs, jumping, squatting and kicking.

They combine together to form a common tendon in the lower thigh which wraps around the knee cap and extends down to the top of the shin bone, the tibia.

Whilst it is one continuous tendon, it is often referred to as two parts:

  • Quadriceps Tendon: the portion above the knee cap between the quads muscles and the patella
  • Patellar Tendon: portion below the kneecap between the patella and the tibia

Here, we will be focusing on the area above the kneecap and the area below the kneecap is covered in the patellar tendonitis section.

Read Also: How To Remove Knee Fat

How Is Iliotibial Band Syndrome Diagnosed

Your healthcare provider will begin with a health history. They will also ask about your other health problems as well as your current symptoms. The provider will do a physical exam, including a thorough exam of your knee. This will include tests of your range of motion, strength, and sore areas of your knee. Your provider will need to distinguish between iliotibial band syndrome and other possible causes of your knee pain. These can include osteoarthritis or a meniscal tear.

Usually, your healthcare provider won’t need any additional tests to diagnose iliotibial band syndrome. If the diagnosis is unclear, you might need imaging tests, like an X-ray or MRI, to rule out other possible causes.

Which Are The Complications That Occur During The Quadriceps Pain

STOP Knee pain in 5 minutes!! | Physiotherapy | Quad tendinopathy | PhysioEvangelist
  • When the large muscle of the quadriceps is injured, the body is laying down to excess calcium as part of the healing stage. This condition is called myositis ossificans, which is produce pain & decreased range of motion = ROM in the affected leg.
  • This complication needs to surgery remove the excess bone.
  • Compartment syndrome occurs with the complication of trauma on the anterior compartment of the thigh, where the quadriceps muscle group is located.
  • Mostly occur to Crush injuries & fracture of the femur is often the cause.
  • It is a surgical emergency & needs to be opened to relieve the pressure which prevents permanent muscle & nerve damage.

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Medical History And Physical Examination

Doctors use the knee extension test to help diagnose a quadriceps tendon tear.

Reproduced from JF Sarwark, ed: Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, ed 4. Rosemont, IL, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2010.

Your doctor will discuss your general health and the symptoms you are experiencing. They will also ask you about your medical history. Questions you might be asked include:

  • Have you had a previous injury to the front of your knee?
  • Have you ever injured a quadriceps muscle?
  • Do you have quadriceps tendinitis?
  • Do you have any medical conditions that might predispose you to a quadriceps injury?

After discussing your symptoms and medical history, your doctor will conduct a thorough examination of your knee. To determine the exact cause of your symptoms, your doctor will test how well you can extend, or straighten, your knee. While this part of the examination can be painful, it is important to identify a quadriceps tendon tear.

How To Relieve Knee Pain Through Stretches And Exercises You Can Do At Home

Your knees are two of the largest, most heavily used joints in your body. It’s no wonder, then, that knee pain is both pretty common and pretty hard to ignore.

“In many cases, knee pain can be treated at home via stretching and strengthening exercises,” says Dr. Kenneth Brooks, orthopedic surgeon specializing in knee surgery at Houston Methodist. “However, some types of knee pain can also be the result of a serious injury that requires evaluation and treatment by a specialist.”

Whether your knee pain is due to aging, overuse, muscle tightness or muscle weakness, Dr. Brooks is here to help you understand how to alleviate your pain, as well as the signs indicating that it may be a sign of serious injury.

Recommended Reading: What Can You Do For Osteoarthritis In The Knee

Is It Possible To Prevent Quadriceps Muscle Pain

  • Yes, it is possible to prevent quadriceps muscle pain but take to some preventive things for the muscle pain.
  • Always take care during the sports activities for accident injury direct on the anterior thigh.
  • Prevent the tendon from damage by the overuse of activity.
  • For the prevention of the strain avoid stretching on the muscle of the quadriceps.
  • Always do the warm-up & cool down before & after the daily exercise.

What Are The Causes Of Pain Above The Knee

What Can Cause Swelling Above Knee &  What is its Treatment?

Soft tissue injury to the quadriceps and hamstring muscles are some of the most common causes of above knee pain. Joint problems such as arthritis and knee bursitis can also cause discomfort and pain above the knee joint. A recent Australian study on knee injury showed the rates are increasing and strategies are needed to reduce the incidence.

Read Also: What To Use For Knee Pain When Running

When Do You Feel Better Or Worse

For instance, does walking up or down a flight of stairs trigger pain behind your kneecap? That could be a sign of osteoarthritis. With osteoarthritis, pain also tends to get worse over the day as youre more active.

On the other hand, pain that starts strong in the morning and gets better as you move during the day sounds more like an inflammatory condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

If you are seeing a doctor, make note of all of this. The smallest details even the resting positions that bring you the most relief will help infinding the right diagnosis.

Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

The posterior cruciate ligament is the ACLs partner. Its another band of tissue that connects your thighbone to your shinbone and supports your knee. However, the PCL isnt as likely to get injured as the ACL.

You can injure the PCL if you take a hard blow to the front of your knee, such as in a car accident. Sometimes injuries occur from twisting the knee or missing a step while walking.

Stretching the ligament too far causes a strain. With enough pressure, the ligament can tear into two parts.

Along with pain, a PCL injury causes:

  • swelling of the knee
  • trouble walking
  • weakness of the knee

Rest, ice, and elevation can help a PCL injury heal faster. You might need surgery if youve injured more than one ligament in your knee, have symptoms of instability, or you also have cartilage damage.

Also Check: Why Do You Need Knee Surgery

Pain Above Knee Cap When Bending Knee

A lot of us have knee pain issues. Pain above knee cap when bending knee is also a common discomfort among many. We have a few facts on knee discomfort, in the following content.

A lot of us have knee pain issues. Pain above knee cap when bending knee is also a common discomfort among many. We have a few facts on knee discomfort, in the following content.

Knee Pain Above Knee CapQuad Tendonitis

Description: Quad Tendonitis is a condition where the quadriceps tendons suffer inflammation and irritation. A lot of stress and activity on the quadriceps muscles leads to this condition.

Symptoms: Pain above knee cap while bending knee and swelling are common symptoms, a burning or warm sensation on the knee area. Stiffness, specially when working out or in the morning and a tender feeling that gradually increases as you move your knee.

Treatment: Treatment includes home remedies like giving proper rest to the knee, that will repair the tendons and reduce inflammation. Using an ice pack over the swelling or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. In case of severe symptoms, it is best to see a doctor.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome


Symptoms: Symptoms include pain in and around the knee cap, increased pain when-in any activity or sitting in one position for a long time, mild swelling. A popping or snapping sound of the knee cap.

Chondromalacia Patellae


Kneecap Dislocation or Dislocated Patella


Fractured Patella


Exercises To Help Relieve Knee Arthritis Pain

STOP Knee Pain! 5 Best Exercises to Create Symmetry in Knee Muscles – Dr. Berg

The most common cause of knee arthritis is osteoarthritis, which becomes more common with increasing age. Over time, the cartilage in your knee joint wears away causing pain and tenderness while using your knee.

“The stronger your leg muscles are, the more they can help cushion your knee joint during impact and during exercise,” explains Dr. Brooks.

But, you’ve likely already noticed that some common leg-strengthening workouts, such as running or jumping, actually worsen your knee pain.

“High-impact weight-bearing exercises aren’t recommended for people whose knee pain is due to arthritis,” says Dr. Brooks.

Instead, Dr. Brooks recommends improving your knee mobility by stretching regularly especially your quadriceps, hamstring, and calf muscles and increasing your knee stability by performing low-impact leg strengthening exercises, such as:

  • Riding an exercise bike
  • Using an elliptical
  • Water-based workouts, such as walking, high-stepping, kickboarding or other exercises you can perform while holding on to the ledge of the pool

“Performing water-based exercise is a really good way for a person with arthritis in the knee to maintain his or her overall fitness,” explains Dr. Brooks. “The buoyancy effect of water can relieve the pressure on the joints, making conditioning and strengthening exercises much more comfortable.”

Also Check: How To Fight Knee Pain

Causes Why Sharp Stabbing Pain In Knee Comes And Goes

Sharp knee pain symptoms are often a sign of a serious knee injury. You have to learn about the causes of sharp stabbing pain in knee comes and goes to treat it. Most people, regardless of age, experience knee pain at some point in their lives. Older individuals may experience knee pain and discomfort due to multiple age-related conditions, and younger individuals may experience similar symptoms due to sports or other physical activities. However, to understand its cause you have to understand the anatomy of the knee first.

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Acupuncture And Massage Therapy

Some people benefit from acupuncture to relieve their thigh pain.

According to this ancient Chinese practice, all parts of the body are aligned with specific channels believed to facilitate the flow energy and blood. When flow in one or more is interrupted or blocked, illness is said to result.

During a session, a licensed acupuncturist will determine the affected meridian causing thigh pain. Then, they will place very thin needles into the top layer of your skin at specific points on the body to restore healthy flow once again.

Massage therapy can also help with thigh pain by improving circulation, smoothing out muscle knots, and relieving tension.

Whatever treatment you choose for your thigh pain, see a medical professional first. That way you can be sure your care is tailored to your specific condition and needs.

Read Also: How To Regrow Knee Cartilage

What Else Can Help

These knee pain diagnosis charts are a great place to start when it comes to working out what is wrong with your knee, but what do you then do about it? Youll find loads of great information about each of these knee problems, and more, using the links above.

Alternative, following multiple requests from our readers, we have recently published our second book, Beat Knee Pain: Take Back Control.

It tells you everything you need to know to help you work out what is wrong with your knee and gives you loads of great advice on how to get back to doing what you love. Youll find all the information from this site and loads more. We know many people prefer having the information is book form so they can navigate through easily, so do check it out.

Beat Knee Pain: Take Back Control has an average rating of 4.8/5 and is ranked the #2 Best Seller in Orthopedics on *.

*Ranked #2 Best Seller in Orthopedics on Amazon.com in October 2021

Knee pain location charts are just the start. Now that youve got a good idea what is going on, its time to start fixing it so you can get back to the things you love.

Page Last Updated: 12/02/21


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