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Why Does My Knee Hurt When I Bend It? Common Causes of Knee Pain

Foothills Region / 05 Mar 2024

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by EmergeOrtho
Why Does My Knee Hurt When I Bend It? Common Causes of Knee Pain

Knee pain when bending and straightening at the joint is a symptom of many common conditions and injuries. “My knee hurts when I bend it” is something the joint specialists at EmergeOrtho—Foothills Region hear often. These are some of the common causes and explanations for your pain and how to know when it is time to see an orthopedist for solutions.

Why Does My Knee Hurt When I Bend It?

There are a lot of potential causes of knee pain when bending at the joint. Arthritis and knee injuries are the most common explanations.

Arthritis causes swelling, stiffness, redness, and pain when you move the joint. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which results from the breakdown of joint tissue after years of wear and tear.

The culprit could also be rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an inflammatory autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack joints. If you have RA, you probably feel more prolonged joint stiffness in the morning, and you might have other symptoms like fatigue or weakness.

Injuries to the knee are the other common source of pain when bending or straightening. Injuries can damage the knee, but many people develop milder injuries over time and as a result of sports and other activities.

Why Do I Have Pain in the Front of the Knee?

Pain in front of or just below the kneecap (patella) on the front of the knee can indicate a few different knee injury types:

  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. Also known as runner’s knee, this is a common sports injury. The pain is around the front of the knee and kneecap, and it is often worse with repeated bending at the joint. Overuse is a typical cause of runner’s knee, but it can also result from poor alignment of the kneecap.
  • Patellar Tendinitis. The patellar tendon runs in front of the knee from the kneecap to the tibia (shinbone). Sports and traumatic injuries can cause overstretching or tears that lead to pain when bending at the joint.
  • Quadriceps Tendinitis. This tendon, which runs up from the kneecap to the femur, can be strained or torn during sports activities, especially those that involve jumping. The injury causes pain above the kneecap when bending.
  • Patellar Fracture. Traumatic injuries, such as falls, can fracture the kneecap, which causes significant pain. You may not even be able to straighten your leg at all with this injury.

Why Does My Inner Knee Hurt When I Bend It?

Inner knee pain might indicate an injury in the medial collateral ligament (MCL). The MCL runs along the inside of the joint and can be stretched or torn during physical activity or when a force is applied to the outside of the knee.

The medial meniscus is a cushioning wedge of cartilage that sits on the inside of the joint. It can tear or overstretch during twisting, pivoting, or being struck during sports activities.

Why Does My Outer Knee Hurt When I Bend It?

Outer knee pain might involve the opposite of the inner knee ligaments and tendons: the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and the lateral meniscus. An LCL injury often occurs when it is overstretched or torn during a blow to the inside of the knee.

The lateral meniscus commonly overstretches or tears during sports activities that involve pivoting and twisting motions with the foot planted on the ground.

Another common source of pain on the outside of the knee is iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome, an irritation in the connective tissue that runs from the hip to the knee. A single cause is not always obvious. ITB syndrome is more common in athletes who engage in repetitive motions involving bending at the knee, like running and cycling.

When Should I See a Doctor for Knee Pain?

An orthopedic doctor examines a patient’s knee.Bending at the knee is necessary for normal daily functioning, not to mention sports and exercise. When this kind of pain becomes significant and inhibits your ability to function or engage in activities you enjoy, it is time to see a doctor.

A skilled orthopedic physician and knee specialist can evaluate your knee and provide treatment solutions as described by EmergeOrtho’s Dr. Chris Daley:

“I see many patients who suffer from knee pain. The first step we take is to conduct a thorough evaluation to check their range of motion and overall function. If necessary, we may recommend imaging tests to get a better understanding of the structural issues causing the pain. Based on our findings, we work together with the patient to create the best possible treatment plan, which could include physical therapy, medications, injections, or surgery. Our ultimate goal is to help the patient become pain-free, and we are committed to working closely with them throughout the entire process to ensure the best possible outcome.”

Learn more about common causes of knee pain and relevant treatments. Contact EmergeOrtho—Foothills Region to make an appointment with one of our joint specialists, who can evaluate your symptoms, make a diagnosis, and offer treatment options.

A New Level Of Orthopedic Care Has Emerged

EmergeOrtho-Foothills Region patients benefit from a full range of orthopedic services, including diagnostics, imaging, treatment, physical and occupational therapy, and pain management. From conservative care to surgical interventions, our team of specialists provides expert care and real results. Call (828) 672-1299 or click below to schedule your appointment today.