Common Conditions That Cause Pain When Bending Or Straightening Knee
Pain when bending or straightening the knee can sideline you for the weekend or for months at a time. There are many different causes of knee pain. It is important that you identify the specific cause of your pain so that a specific treatment plan can be created. There are 5 major conditions that can affect how the functions like difficulties in bending or straightening the knee:
What Causes Knee Pain
Knee pain can have many different causes. Common causes of knee pain include:
- Overuse injury
How The Knee Works
To understand how jumpers knee happens, it helps to understand how the knee works. The knee, which is the largest joint in the body, provides stability to the leg and allows it to bend, swivel, and straighten. Several parts of the body interact to allow the knee to function properly:
- Bones like the femur , the tibia , and the patella give the knee the strength needed to support the weight of the body. The bones that meet at the knee allow it to bend smoothly.
- Muscles provide the tug on the bones needed to bend, straighten, and support joints. The muscles around the knee include the quadriceps and the hamstring . The quadriceps muscle helps straighten and extend the leg, and the hamstring helps bend the knee.
- Tendons are strong bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones. The tendons in the front of the knee are the quadriceps tendon and the patellar tendon. The quadriceps tendon connects to the top of the patella and allows the leg to extend. The patellar tendon connects to the bottom of the kneecap and attaches to the top of the tibia.
- Similar to tendons, ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to other bones.
Read Also: When Was The First Knee Replacement
Knee Injury: 6 Things To Do For The Pain
Your plan will depend on your specific injury. Mild to moderate issues will often get better on their own. To speed the healing, you can:
Some people with knee pain need more help. For instance, if you have bursitis, your doctor may need to draw out extra fluid from the bursa in your knee. If you have arthritis, you may need an occasional corticosteroid shot to settle down inflammation. And if you have a torn ligament or certain knee injuries, you may need surgery.
Knee Hurts When Straightened
With every action you take, your knees not only flex and align however also bear the weight of your body. The knees usually accomplish these jobs without symptoms however this is not constantly the case. Pain provoked by correcting your knee can arise from acute injuries or chronic disorders impacting many structures in and around the joint, consisting of cartilage, tendons, ligaments, bursae, muscles, bones or the synovial membrane.
Recommended Reading: What To Do For Sore Knees From Working Out
Why Do I Have Pain Behind My Knee
If youre under 50 and your pain is in the crease at the back of your leg behind theknee, it may be the result of an injury, such as a hamstring or other knee-relatedissue.
If youre over 50 and you have a creaking, squeaking pain behind the kneecap, or acyst on the crease at the back of your leg behind the knee, it may be arthritis. Again,your doctor can help identify arthritis by excluding other issues.
Knee Popping By Activity
Knee Popping and Pain When Bending: If you get knee popping and pain when bending your knee e.g. squatting down, it is most likely due to a problem with the knee cartilage such as a meniscus tear or chondromalacia patella.
Knee Popping When Extending And Bending: If you get knee pain and popping with both knee flexion and extension, it is likely that there is damage to the joint surface such as cartilage damage or knee arthritis. If there is no pain, it is likely to be gas bubbles popping.
Knee Popping With Twisting: Sudden knee pain and popping when you twist is usually doe to a knee ligament injury, most often an ACL injury and/or MCL tear. If the knee swells up or feels unstable after hearing a pop as you twisted, seek medical attention immediately.
Knee Popping When Walking: Almost all the possible causes of knee popping that we’ve looked at here can cause knee pain and popping when walking, be it arthritis, runners knee, cartilage tear or ligament injury. There will usually be other symptoms associated here that will lead to a clearer knee pain diagnosis.
Recommended Reading: How Much Does An Artificial Knee Weigh
Damage To The Ligaments Of The Knee
Ligaments are strong, flexible, fibrous and elastic connective tissue which connect one bone to another, provide stability and support joints. They do not connect muscles to joints, that is done by the tendons.
The ligaments of the knee comprise the medial and lateral collateral ligaments, on the inside and outside of the knee respectively, which give sideways stability to the knee joint, and the anterior and posterior cruciate ligament at the front and back of the knee. There is also a patellar tendon, which is really a ligament, which attaches the bottom of the patella to the top of the tibia.
You Cant Straighten Your Knee Or Leg
If you have trouble straightening your leg or it hurts to do so, you probably have a serious knee injury.
To test this, start in a seated position and try to lift your lower leg using your own leg muscles. You may still be able to bear weight and walk slowly and carefully without assistance, but will probably require assistance to lift your lower leg and fully extend your injured knee, says Dr. Brown.
Patella fractures, quadriceps tendon tears, and patellar tendon tears all tend to be associated with an inability to straighten the leg.
Use a knee immobilizer to hold the knee in a straight position and help with pain relief. This also makes it easier to move about until your appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, he adds.
Another test is to lie down and try to straighten your leg. The goal is to get your knee to lie flat. This might be difficult or impossible to do due to the pain, but what you should watch out for is a total inability to straighten your knee.
Some of the problems that could cause a locked knee include meniscus tears or a torn ACL. The key is to determine whether you cant straighten your knee due to sheer pain or physical blockage. If you feel blocked, then we recommend getting in touch with a doctor sooner rather than later.
On the flip side, you might have trouble bending your knee. If your knee feels stuck in any way, and the feeling doesnt go away within a few hours, you could be experiencing something more severe.
Don’t Miss: How Long Do Artificial Knees Last
I Only Have Pain Behind My Knee When Walking Up Or Down The Stairs What Should I Do
The act of walking up and down stairs involves straightening the knee whilst it is bearing weight, and the the most common cause of pain in this case is chondromalacia patella. This condition is brought about by the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap deteriorating and softening. Some people can ignore the condition, but in the end it will probably need to be surgically addressed. It may be that a flap of cartilage has become unstable, in which case it can be treated by a chondroplasty, repairing the damaged cartilage using keyhole surgery.
How Can I Prevent Knee Pain
Although you canât prevent all injuries, you can take these steps to make them less likely.
- Stop exercising if you feel pain in your knee.
- If you want to make your workout more intense, always do it gradually.
- Stretch your legs before and after physical activity.
- Use kneepads to prevent bursitis, especially if you have to kneel a lot.
- Wear shoes that fit well and offer enough support.
- Keep your thigh muscles strong with regular stretching and strengthening.
- If youâre overweight, work to drop some pounds so thereâs less stress on all of your joints, including your knees.
Don’t Miss: How To Reduce Knee Pain At Home
If You Cant Straighten Your Knee You Probably Have A Severe Knee Injury
After an injury, there are a few different reasons why you might not be able to straighten your knee. Often you cant straighten the knee simply because of pain and swelling. In cases where you can not straighten the knee because of swelling, you will notice that your ability to move the knee improves as the swelling goes down. Besides, when you have lost the ability to straighten your knee because of swelling, you do not usually feel as if something is stuck inside the knee and blocking your movement. In serious knee injuries, you will often feel as if something is blocking your ability to straighten your leg or your knee feels locked and it is not able to move freely.
Here is a list of knee injuries that can make it difficult to straighten your knee.
Visit Border Therapy Services Today For Knee Pain Treatment
Are you suffering from pain when straightening your knee but not when bending it? Our physical therapists at Border can help. Our team specializes in personalized treatments that can help you manage and prevent knee pain from conditions like runners knee and jumpers knee. Contact our team today for more information about knee pain or to schedule an initial appointment.
Don’t Miss: Does Arthritis In The Knee Cause Swelling
Rare And Unusual Knee Instability Causes
Causes of knee instability that occur even less frequently include the following.
- Partial dislocation: If you do something strenuous enough to damage the ligaments, it is likely that you will have damage to the cartilage around the knee bone as well. The patella, or kneecap, can become partially or completely dislocated. A partial dislocation is called a subluxation. Dislocation can occur if the ligaments are damaged and are not holding the kneecap firmly in place as usual.
- Cartilage tears: The cartilage at the ends of the upper and lower leg bones, which meet under the kneecap, can become torn. This often happens along with a ligament sprain.
- Cartilage wear: Cartilage can gradually wear away over time, causing pain and difficulty moving since there is no longer enough cushioning material between the bones.
- Birth deformity: You may have been born with knee structure that makes the joint vulnerable to slipping out of place.
This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.
How Is Pfp Syndrome Treated
Someone with patellofemoral pain syndrome needs to limit or completely avoid activities that cause pain. Sometimes a change in training is all that’s needed. For example, someone who usually runs hills to train can try running on a flat, soft surface instead.
A person who has severe pain or pain that interferes with activity needs to rest the knee until the pain is better.
- Put ice or a cold pack on the knee every 12 hours for 15 minutes at a time. Put a thin towel between the ice and your skin to protect it from the cold.
- You can take ibuprofen or naproxen . Follow the directions that come with the medicine for how much to take and how often. Do not take this medicine for longer than about 23 weeks.
An important part of the treatment for PFP syndrome is improving the strength and flexibility of the legs, hips, and core muscles. Health care providers usually recommend going to a physical therapist to make an exercise plan that will help. The plan may include stretching, squats, planks, lunges, and other exercises that improve strength and flexibility of the legs and hips.
The health care provider might also recommend:
- a knee brace
It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes surgery is needed for PFP syndrome.
Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Knee Joint Pain
My Knee Hurts When I Bend It And Straighten It
Your knees bend countless times throughout the day. Running up the stairs, down the hall after kids, and getting into the car. You straighten the knee as you walk, descend stairs or get into and out of the car. Bending and straightening the knee is necessary for daily activities. Knee pain with bending or straightening may be a mild, transient irritation or may indicate a more significant problem. Learn more below and avoid further injury and dysfunction.
How Is Knee Cartilage Damaged
Knee cartilage fails for many reasons. Accidents, injury, genetic deformities, overuse, and age are five common reasons for chondromalacia.
Fractured bones or lacerated muscles can cause an imbalance of strength in the leg and pull the kneecap to one side of the groove or another. The added stress can cause misalignment and pain.
Overuse injuries cause damage to the cartilage, especially in young athletes. Growing bones and excessive stress create a recipe for a chronic condition. If young athletes complain of knee pain at practice or during a competition, they should stop playing. Prolonged knee pain after activity indicates a more serious condition than normal muscle soreness from a strenuous workout. If you experience knee pain after practice or a game that does not diminish in 72 hours, you may need medical attention. Call your primary care provider, sports medicine physician or an orthopedic specialist.
Genetic deformities and age are risk factors you cannot change, but you there are some things you can do to avoid damaging the cartilage.
Also Check: Why Would My Knee Hurt
When I Straighten Or Stretch My Leg I Feel Pain Behind My Knee What Should I Do
Difficulty in stretching your leg may be due to a collection of synovial fluid. If you can also feel a swelling in the back of your leg it may be a Bakers cyst which makes the knee feel tight. This is not serious, but if it does not clear up you should see your doctor. Swelling in the calf may be a blood clot in the popliteal vein which is serious and should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible particularly if the swelling is accompanied by warm/red tender skin. Difficulty in straightening your leg may also be due to arthritis or a tear in a meniscus. You should see your doctor and get a proper diagnosis.
Is It Possible For Adults To Have Growing Pains
No one knows for certain what causes âgrowing pains.â They are defined as self-limited and recurrent pains in the extremities of children with no other explanation or clear musculoskeletal causes. These usually occur during sleep and may awaken the child. Some physicians believe they occur due to fatigue, overuse, and mild orthopedic abnormalities, but the cause is still unknown. No matter what causes growing pains, we know that adults do not have them â most growing pains occur between age 2 and 12. It is possible to have similar pains, however, due to very mild injuries or overuse of muscles.
Read Also: What Doctor Should I See For Knee Pain
Types Of Knee Popping
Knee clicking and popping noises in the knee usually fall into one of three categories: