Knee pain when bending is a common problem affecting people across age groups. The knees are integral to most of our daily activities, and the pain can be debilitating. From making it hard to walk, stand up, or even sit down, it can turn simple tasks into daunting challenges. At KCM Clinic, we encounter numerous patients with these symptoms, and our aim is always to provide a clear understanding and actionable solutions.
Causes of Knee Pain When Bending
Understanding the cause of your knee pain when bending is the first step to addressing it effectively. There are numerous causes, but here are the most common ones:
Often called the ‘runner’s knee’, it causes a dull ache behind or around the kneecap, especially during activities like squatting, running, or using stairs. Notably, overuse, weak hip muscles, or muscle imbalances in the lower legs can be contributing factors.
With age, the protective cartilage can wear down. This wear leads to stiffness and pain in the knee, especially when climbing stairs or walking.
Many people experience tears in the menisci – the shock absorbers between the thigh and shin bone. Whether due to a sports injury or age-related wear and tear, symptoms often include a sensation of the knee catching, accompanied by stiffness and swelling.
Patellar Tendon Issues
This tendon is crucial for leg straightening. Inflammation or tears here can lead to severe discomfort or even misalignment of the kneecap.
Iliotibial (IT band) Syndrome
If your pain is on the outside of your knee, an inflamed IT band might be the cause. Repetitive movements strain this fibrous tissue, causing pain and sometimes even a popping sensation.
Continuous kneeling can irritate the fluid-filled sac in front of the kneecap, causing swelling and pain behind the knee when bending.
Typically forming due to another knee issue like osteoarthritis or a meniscus tear, this cyst causes discomfort at the back of the knee.
The ACL is one of the primary ligaments that can be injured, causing severe pain and loss of motion. Other ligaments like the MCL, LCL, and PCL also play crucial roles and can be sources of pain if injured.
Lastly, conditions like Osgood-Schlatter disease common in growing adolescents and severe incidents like bone fractures or dislocations can also be the reason your knee hurts when bending.
At KCM Clinic, our team often sees these causes manifesting in different ways for different patients. Each case is unique, which is why a personalised approach to diagnosis and treatment is crucial.
Steps To Prevent Knee Pain When Bending
Prevention is always better than cure. With a few careful measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing knee pain or further aggravating existing issues:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight puts undue pressure on your knees.
- Exercise regularly to strengthen the muscles around the knee. Focus on exercises that improve flexibility and strength, such as low-impact aerobics, swimming, and strength training.
- Always ensure you warm up adequately before indulging in any strenuous activities. This preps the knee and reduces the risk of injuries that lead to knee pain when bending.
- Wear shoes that support your arches and cushion your feet to reduce the stress on your knees.
- If you find yourself performing an action that repeatedly strains the knee, take regular breaks. This could be anything from kneeling to squatting or even jogging.
- If you are engaged in activities where there is a risk of a knee injury, like certain sports, consider wearing knee guards or braces for protection.
- Drink enough water to keep the cartilage in your knees hydrated and lubricated, reducing the risk of wear and tear.
At KCM Clinic, we emphasise the importance of prevention. Following these steps diligently can help you keep knee pain at bay and enjoy a more active and pain-free life.
Treatment for Knee Pain When Bending
A proper diagnosis is the cornerstone of effective treatment. The following treatments cater to a broad range of causes from mild discomfort to severe pain behind the knee when bending:
A cornerstone for treating minor knee injuries is the RICE method. The acronym stands for:
- Rest: Give your knee a break. Steer clear of activities that exacerbate the pain and refrain from putting excessive weight on it.
- Ice: Counteract swelling and pain with ice. Ensure it’s wrapped in cloth or a plastic bag and apply it for 20-minutes multiple times a day.
- Compress: An elastic bandage around the knee can help with swelling. Remember, it should be snug, not tight.
- Elevate: Lift your knee above heart level whenever you can, which will help reduce swelling.
For those with arthritis or persistent stiffness, applying heat can be beneficial. The warmth enhances circulation, which can be soothing.
Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be instrumental in managing pain and inflammation.
A skilled massage therapist can alleviate pain by targeting muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Depending on the cause of your pain, you may benefit from sports massage, Swedish massage, trigger point massage, or deep tissue massage.
Strengthening exercises focused on muscles supporting the knee can be incredibly beneficial. A well-rounded regimen, including stretching to ease muscle tension, can alleviate knee pain. Remember, if any exercise intensifies your pain, stop immediately. A physical therapist can tailor exercises to your specific needs.
These are shoe inserts that help stabilise the foot and ankle. They can make a significant difference by reducing undue pressure on the knee.
In some cases, a brace or cast might be necessary, especially if an injury is at play. This approach protects the knee and fosters healing.
For persistent pain, cortisone steroid injections can be a game-changer. Administered directly into the knee, these shots can dramatically reduce pain and inflammation.
In situations where nonsurgical treatments aren’t cutting it, surgery may be the next step. Procedures range from ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair to total knee replacements and more, depending on the severity and nature of the issue.
At KCM Clinic, our first approach is always conservative treatments, reserving surgical options only when absolutely necessary. Each patient is unique, and so is their path to recovery.
Exercises To Improve Flexibility And Range Of Motion
To mitigate knee pain when bending and prevent future occurrences, integrating certain exercises into your routine can be beneficial:
- Hamstring Stretch: Sit on the floor with one leg extended and the other bent. Lean forward gently until you feel a stretch at the back of your thigh.
- Quadriceps Stretch: While standing, pull one foot towards your buttock, holding the ankle.
- Calf Stretch: With one leg forward and the other extended behind, push the back heel down and lean forward, feeling the stretch in your calf.
- Straight Leg Raise: Lie flat and lift one straight leg at a time, to strengthen the muscles supporting the knee.
- Knee-to-chest Stretch: While lying down, pull your knee towards your chest, holding it with both hands.
Regularly practising these exercises not only helps with existing knee pain bending issues but also strengthens the knee, preventing future ailments. At KCM Clinic, we often prescribe a combination of these exercises tailored to individual needs.
When You Should See a Doctor
While mild discomfort may not be alarming, certain symptoms warrant immediate attention:
- Severe and persistent pain
- Unexplained swelling
- Reduced range of motion
- Popping noise, accompanied by pain
- Instability while walking or standing
At KCM Clinic, our doors are always open to those in need. Our team specialises in diagnosing and treating various knee ailments, ensuring that you return to your daily routine pain-free and with confidence.
How do I know if my knee pain is serious?
If your knee pain when bending is severe, you may experience swelling, reduced range of motion, or instability. Persistent pain or sounds from the knee during movement also warrant urgent medical attention.
How do I stop my knees from hurting when I bend?
To alleviate painful knees when bending, consider regular exercises to enhance flexibility. Also, maintain a healthy weight and take breaks if you are performing repetitive knee-straining activities.
Should I squat with knee pain?
If you experience knee pain bending or squatting, it’s advisable to avoid or modify the squatting activity. Ensure your form is correct, and if pain persists or worsens, consult professionals for personalised advice.
Why does my knee hurt when I bend it or squat?
The knee hurts when bent due to various reasons like patellofemoral syndrome, osteoarthritis, meniscus tears, or other knee conditions. To understand the cause of your knee pain, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional.