This Is Why You Have Knee Pain When Bending It – Free guide

By Last Updated: November 7th, 202314.8 min readViews: 2228

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About the Author: Daryl Stubbs
Daryl Stubbs
Daryl Stubbs is a multi-disciplinary health professional, combining his roles as an award-winning athletic therapist, registered massage therapist, and certified holistic nutritionist to offer a comprehensive approach to wellness. Graduating in 2013, Daryl has been recognized as the best massage therapy clinic in Victoria for 2022 and 2023 and has received national athletic therapy awards. He is known for his holistic approach to health, focusing on treating the body as a whole. Clients appreciate his focus on the science of probiotics, supplements, gut health, and the human body, ensuring a well-informed and evidence-based approach to their wellness journey.

Knee pain when bending is a common complaint that affects people of all ages and lifestyles. Knee pain, whether brought on by an accident or a long-term illness, can significantly hinder daily activities, making it difficult to walk, climb stairs, or simply sit down. In this article, we’ll explore these topics in detail and tell you why you have knee pain when bending.

People of all ages frequently complain of knee pain, which can result from a number of different things, including injuries, illnesses, or repetitive stress on the knee. One specific type of knee pain is when it hurts to bend the leg. This movement is necessary for daily activities like climbing stairs and sitting in a chair, as well as exercises like squats and lunges. Depending on the underlying cause, knee pain when bending can range in location and intensity.

There are several possible causes of knee pain when bending, including patellofemoral pain syndrome, patellar tendonitis, meniscus tears, arthritis, and more. The best treatment for knee pain while bending depends on the cause. A doctor might recommend physical therapy to improve strength, mobility, and flexibility in the knee. Mild knee pain while bending usually isn’t a cause for concern, but if it persists or worsens over time, it’s important to find the right doctor for knee pain.

Key Takeway: Knee pain when bending is a common issue and can have numerous underlying causes. Some of the most common causes include osteoarthritis, meniscus tears, bursitis, ligament strain, tendonitis, bone fractures, or infections in the joint. The specific location and nature of the pain can provide clues as to the cause:

  • Pain in front of the kneecap: patellar fracture, knee bursitis, or patellar tendonitis.
  • Sharp pain: torn ligament, meniscus, patellar or knee fracture, patellar tendonitis, IT band syndrome or osteoarthritis.
  • Pain behind the knee: Baker’s cyst, hamstring tendonitis, or a knee injury.
  • Pain at the top of the kneecap: knee bursitis, osteoarthritis, or quadriceps tendonitis.
  • To help alleviate knee pain, you can try over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, and the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).Physical therapy and strengthening exercises may also help by stabilizing the knee joint. Acupuncture has been found to provide relief for knee pain caused by osteoarthritis
  • This is the best knee brace overall to reduce knee pain

Causes of knee pain when bending

A sudden traumatic knee injury, aging-related wear and tear, or damage to specific joint components can all be the root of knee pain when bending. The knee is a hinge joint responsible for mobility and flexibility.

It is constantly moving from sitting, walking, bending, and high-impact physical activities such as running, sports, or work-related duties.

Knee pain can feel dull and achy, cause a burning sensation, or create shooting pains. It can also feel like your knee will give way when you try to bend it.

Some common causes of knee pain when bending include patellofemoral syndrome, which causes a dull ache in front of your knee; patellartendonitis, which causes burning and pain in or at the base of your kneecap; iliotibial (IT band) syndrome, which causes inflammation on the outside of your knee; loose body; ACL injury; fractures; bursitis; and osteoarthritis, among others.

Mild knee pain while bending usually isn’t a cause for concern. However, if you have severe knee pain or chronic symptoms that do not improve with home remedies such as rest, ice packs, compression bandages, or over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen within 2-4 weeks, then you should see a doctor.

Additionally, if you cannot bear weight on your knee or feel as if your knee is unstable or gives out, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

  • Knee Osteoarthritis: A degenerative joint disease that occurs when the cartilage that cushions the knee joint wears down over time, causing pain and stiffness.
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: A condition that affects the kneecap and the surrounding tissues, causing pain when bending or straightening the knee.
  • Meniscus Tear: A tear in the meniscus, which is a rubbery piece of cartilage that provides cushioning between the bones in the knee joint.
  • Ligament Injuries: A tear or knee sprain in one of the ligaments in the knee, such as the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) or the MCL (medial collateral ligament).
  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa, which is a fluid-filled sac that helps reduce friction between the bones, tendons, and muscles in the knee joint.

These are the main causes of knee pain when bending, and the article will go into more detail about each one, including symptoms and treatment options.

Symptoms of knee pain when bending

Medial knee pain is a common condition that can be caused by various factors. The most common cause of medial knee pain is an MCL tear, which occurs when there is damage to some or all of the fibers of the medial collateral ligament on the inner side of the knee.

Symptoms include pain on the inside of the knee, particularly when bending the knee, walking, going up and down stairs or playing sports.

Another cause of medial knee pain is a medial meniscus injury (torn cartilage), which can occur suddenly or develop gradually over time due to wear and tear or degeneration. Symptoms include pain on the inside of the knee when fully bending your knee or squatting down.

Other causes of medial knee pain include osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), pes anserine bursitis, plica syndrome, and iliotibial band syndrome. OA is a deterioration of cartilage that can follow a sports injury or other type of trauma to your knee.

Symptoms include inner knee pain while putting pressure on your joint, such as when walking up and down stairs or sitting down in a chair. Pes anserine bursitis occurs when the bursa gets squashed between bones when straightening the leg.

Symptoms include inner knee pain with flexion, especially when weight-bearing through the leg.

Plica syndrome occurs due to small folds in the joint lining becoming stuck between bones.

Overuse can irritate these folds causing them to thicken and become stuck between bones resulting in dull inner knee pain, locking knees and possibly a cracking sound.

If you are experiencing symptoms such as swelling, bruising, difficulty walking, instability in your knees or locking knees along with inner-knee pain it’s important to seek medical attention from a doctor who will diagnose your condition accurately

  • Pain: The most common symptom of knee pain when bending is a sharp or dull ache in the knee joint. The pain may be mild or severe and can be felt at the front, back, or sides of the knee.
  • Swelling: Swelling around the knee joint is another common symptom of knee pain when bending. The knee may appear puffy or swollen and may feel warm to the touch.
  • Stiffness: Stiffness in the knee joint is another symptom of knee pain when bending. You may find it difficult to straighten your leg or move your knee through its full range of motion.
  • Reduced range of motion: If you have knee pain when bending, you may notice that you’re unable to move your knee as freely as you used to. This can make it difficult to perform everyday activities, such as walking or climbing stairs.
  • Clicking or popping sounds: Some people with knee pain when bending may hear clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when they move their knee. These sounds can be a sign of cartilage damage or other issues in the knee joint.

These symptoms can vary depending on the underlying cause of knee pain when bending.

inner knee pain when bending

Inner knee pain when bending can be caused by various conditions, including ligament injuries, cartilage damage, osteoarthritis, and overuse of the knee. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is a band of tissue that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone, helping to stabilize the knee.

A tear in the MCL can happen if there is a blow to the outside of the knee, which pushes the knee inwards. A meniscus tear can also cause inner knee pain, which is often accompanied by swelling, locking, instability, and difficulty straightening the leg.

Osteoarthritis of the knee is a common condition that can cause inner knee pain, especially in people over 45 years old.

In osteoarthritis, there are structural changes to the joints, and over time, the cartilage becomes damaged and painful.

Pes anserine bursitis is another common cause of inner knee pain when straightening the leg. The bursa can easily get squashed when straightening the knee, causing pain

knee crackles when bending

If your knee crackles when bending, it could be a sign of knee crepitus, which is caused by cartilage rubbing on the knee joint during movement.

This can be a sign of patellofemoral dysfunction and the beginning of osteoarthritis behind the kneecap. However, knee crepitus by itself is generally not a cause for concern.

The knee crackling or popping sounds can be caused by various factors such as cartilage rubbing on the knee joint during movement, air bubbles in the synovial fluid, and rough spots on the cartilage at the back of the knee cap due to repetitive activities like running.

If the noise is accompanied by pain, swelling, difficulty walking, or knee instability, it may indicate an underlying problem such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, patellar dysfunction, or patellofemoral pain syndrome

knee pain when bending or squatting

Knee pain when bending or squatting can be caused by various factors such as a torn ligament or meniscus, fracture of one of the bones of the knee joint, osteoarthritis, patellar tendonitis, bursitis, and overuse.

Knee pain due to overuse occurs gradually over time and not from a specific injury. Other types of arthritis pain such as rheumatoid arthritis can also cause cartilage loss and knee pain when bending.

The exact cause of knee pain when bending or squatting depends on the individual’s condition and should be diagnosed by a healthcare professional.

Treatment options may include rest, ice, compression, elevation, physical therapy, medication, or surgery depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition.

knee feels tight when bending

A knee feeling tight when bending can be caused by various factors such as injuries, arthritis, muscle imbalances, and physical pressures on the knees.

Knee stiffness and accompanying symptoms are often experienced by people who are highly active or play sports and older adults. A lack of strength or flexibility may also be partly responsible when the knee feels tight when bending.

Additionally, knee tightness can be caused by internal bleeding, fluid buildup, and irritation due to knee injuries. Osteoarthritis and meniscal tear are two serious conditions that can cause knee tightness when bending.

If you are experiencing knee tightness when bending that lasts longer than a few days to a week, it is recommended to seek professional attention to determine the cause and recommend proper treatment

Sharp pain on the outside of the knee when bending

Sharp pain on the outside of the knee when bending can be caused by various factors such as iliotibial band syndrome, lateral meniscus injury, inflammation, or knee arthritis.

Pain on the outside of the knee when bending often indicates a problem in the hamstrings as they are responsible for knee flexion. Iliotibial band syndrome is one of the most common causes of pain on the outside of the knee and is caused by inflammation.

A dislocated knee cap can also cause pain on the outside of the knee when bending or squatting. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment if you experience sharp pain on the outside of your knee when bending.


Knee pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including injury, arthritis, and overuse. To diagnose knee pain, a medical examination is necessary.

During the physical exam, the doctor will inspect the knee for swelling, pain, tenderness, warmth, and visible bruising. They will also check how far the lower leg can move in different directions and push or pull the joint to evaluate its integrity.

Imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans or arthroscopy may be used to diagnose knee injuries or problems.

Treatment options for knee pain depend on the type of pain and severity of the condition. Non-operative treatments include medication and physical therapy.

Over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen are often helpful in reducing pain and swelling following a mild knee injury.

RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) is also often recommended. Physical therapy exercises can help strengthen muscles around the knee joint to reduce stress on it.

Surgical treatment options are available for more severe cases of knee pain. Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to see inside the knee joint.

Knee surgery may also be necessary depending on the source of your knee pain. These are performed by an orthopaedic surgeon but is uncommon and not suggested.

If you’re experiencing knee pain when bending, it’s important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, medical history, and any previous injuries or surgeries. They may also perform a physical examination to assess the range of motion in your knee and check for swelling, tenderness, or other signs of inflammation.

In addition to a physical examination, your doctor may recommend imaging tests to help diagnose the cause of your knee pain when bending. These may include:

  • X-rays: These can help your doctor assess the condition of your bones and look for signs of knee osteoarthritis or other degenerative conditions.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): This test uses powerful magnets and radio waves to produce detailed images of the soft tissues in your knee, such as the cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.
  • CT (computed tomography) scan: This test combines X-rays with computer technology to produce cross-sectional images of your knee joint.

In some cases, your doctor may recommend an arthroscopy, which is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that allows them to examine the inside of your knee joint using a small camera. This can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis and determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

Prevention Tips

Knee pain can be prevented by following some simple tips. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things to do to prevent knee pain. Wearing the right shoes that fit well is also important.

Stretching regularly, especially before exercising, can help prevent knee pain. Low-impact exercises such as swimming, walking on level ground, using a stationary bike or elliptical machine are good for people with structural knee problems. Weight training can also help strengthen the muscles around the knees and reduce the risk of injury.

If you experience knee pain, it is not advisable to decrease your activity level as this may lead to weakness and increase your risk of injury. Instead, opt for low-impact exercises that will have less impact on your knees.

If you’re beginning to experience knee pain, consider consulting with an orthopedic knee specialist or physical therapist who can help you establish an exercise regimen that won’t exacerbate your condition.

Other tips for preventing knee injuries include wearing protection like knee guards during activities where falls happen frequently such as rollerblading and biking, warming up before exercising, and avoiding activities that put extra stress on the knees such as jumping or running on hard surfaces. It’s also important to become familiar with your own body and recognize signs that something’s not right so you can take action early on if needed.

In summary, maintaining a healthy weight, wearing proper shoes, stretching regularly, doing low-impact exercises like swimming or walking on level ground, weight training and consulting with an orthopedic specialist or physical therapist if experiencing knee pain are all effective ways to prevent knee injuries.

  • Consider Knee Supplements: There are specific supplements that can help reduce pain in your knee that work.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight can put extra pressure on your knee joints, which can lead to knee pain when bending. Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your risk of knee pain.
  • Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help strengthen the muscles around your knee joint and improve your range of motion. It’s important to choose low-impact exercises, such as swimming or cycling, to reduce the risk of injury.
  • Stretch regularly: Regular stretching can help increase hip range of motion and ankle mobility, which can help reduce knee pain when bending. Focus on stretches that target the muscles around your hips and ankles.
  • Wear proper footwear: Wearing shoes with good support and cushioning can help reduce the impact on your knee joints when walking or running.
  • Use proper form: When participating in sports or exercising, use proper form to reduce the risk of injury to your knees. This includes using the correct technique for movements such as squatting or lunging.
  • Take breaks: If you’re performing an activity that requires you to be on your feet for an extended period of time, take breaks to rest and stretch your legs.


Knee pain when bending can be a frustrating and debilitating condition, but it’s important to remember that there are many treatment options available. By seeing a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and following a comprehensive treatment plan, you can reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.

In addition to treatment, it’s also important to take steps to prevent knee pain from occurring in the first place. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, stretching, wearing proper footwear, using proper form, and taking breaks can all help reduce your risk of knee pain when bending.

If you’re experiencing knee pain when bending, don’t hesitate to seek help. With the right diagnosis and treatment plan, you can get back to doing the activities you love without pain or discomfort.

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