Why Does My Knee Hurt When I Bend Down

7 Reasons Your Knee Hurts When You Bend It

The knee is a hinge joint that enables mobility and flexibility. From sitting to walking, bending to high-impact physical activities like running, sports, or work-related duties, your knees are constantly in motion. Unfortunately, the knee is also prone to inflammation, making it the most common joint that can become inflamed. When your knee hurts when you bend it, it can disrupt your daily activities.

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Why Does It Hurt to Bend My Knee?

Knee pain is usually caused by sudden traumatic injuries, wear and tear due to aging, or damage to the joint. Knee pain can manifest as a dull ache, a burning sensation, or sharp shooting pains. It may also feel unstable or as if it’s about to give way when you try to bend it while standing or walking.

Let’s explore seven potential reasons why your knee hurts when you bend it, along with some tips for managing the discomfort and preventing knee pain.

1. Injury

Injuries can result in knee pain when you bend it. Whether you’ve hit it against a hard surface, fallen, or experienced an injury during exercise, sports, or work, the pain is usually immediate. Inflammation in the joints may cause your knee to swell within 24 hours of the injury. Bending your knee may be painful. To treat knee pain, you can follow the RICE method:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation
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RICE method

2. Overuse

Overuse can gradually lead to knee pain, rather than being caused by a specific incident. You may experience difficulty bending or straightening your leg. The pain can be felt in the front or back of the knee and worsen during activities such as climbing stairs, running, squatting, or prolonged sitting.

Weak leg muscles, tight thigh or hip muscles, misalignment of the legs, high foot arches, or overtraining can contribute to knee pain from overuse. Stretching properly before physical activities, strengthening the muscles around the knees, or wearing a brace can provide relief. In some cases, steroid injections may be recommended to reduce inflammation and pain.

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3. Bursitis

Bursitis occurs when the cushions surrounding the knee joints become inflamed. These cushions help the joints move smoothly against the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Symptoms of bursitis include knee pain when bending, swelling, and a warm feeling in the knee. Although the condition often improves with rest after a few weeks, flare-ups can occur, and the joints around the knees may become stiff.

4. Sprained Knee Ligaments

Knee pain when bending or squatting can be caused by sprained ligaments. Ligaments are tissues that hold bones together, providing stability. However, they can become overstretched or torn when the knee twists in one direction while the upper or lower leg turns in the opposite direction. Ligament damage can result from twisting or bending movements during physical activities.

Resting the stretched ligament will allow it to heal over time. In some cases, wearing a brace may be necessary to immobilize the joint during the healing process. Severe ligament tears may require surgery, and the best treatment option can be determined by a physician.

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5. Tendonitis

Inflammation of the tendons can lead to swelling and knee pain when bending. Tendons are tissues that connect muscles to bones, facilitating movement. Tendonitis occurs when tendons become inflamed due to overuse. Runners are particularly susceptible to this condition because of the repetitive motion that occurs during running.

Mild cases of tendonitis can improve with rest and avoiding the activity that caused it. However, tendonitis can weaken tendons over time, increasing the vulnerability of the knees to injury.

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6. Arthritis

Arthritis is a chronic inflammation of the knee joints. It can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness when bending the knee. There are several types of arthritis that can affect the knee:

  • Osteoarthritis: This degenerative condition is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the knee’s cartilage wears away over time. The pain worsens gradually, and it can affect both knees or only one.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that attacks the knee joints. It typically affects both knees.
  • Posttraumatic arthritis: This type of arthritis develops after an injury, such as a broken bone, which can lead to knee damage. Tears in the ligaments can weaken the knee’s stability and cause additional wear on the joint.

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can help alleviate symptoms of knee arthritis. Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss to reduce pressure on the knees, engaging in low-impact exercises like walking, and avoiding activities that aggravate the condition, can also provide relief.

7. Meniscus Tears

Damage to the meniscal cartilage in the knee can result in knee pain when bending. The meniscus cartilage, located between the shinbone and thigh bone, allows the knee joint to flex and move freely. However, it can become torn or damaged due to trauma or injury, such as deep squatting, kneeling, or excessive bending of the knee.

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Symptoms of a meniscus tear include pain, swelling, stiffness, and a popping sensation when bending or stretching the knee. Athletes are at a higher risk of experiencing meniscus tears. Treatment options depend on the severity of the tear and may include the RICE method mentioned earlier, steroid injections, or, in more serious cases, surgery.

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How to Prevent Knee Pain

As the largest joint in the body, the knees bear the brunt of our movements. However, you can take steps to prevent knee pain when bending and avoid further damage to the joints, ligaments, and tendons by implementing a few simple changes in your daily habits.

  • Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity helps maintain strong muscles that can support your joints.
  • Stretching: Incorporating stretching into your routine, even on days off from exercise, can increase flexibility.
  • Proper footwear: Wearing appropriate shoes helps keep your body properly aligned, reducing the risk of knee injuries.
  • Maintain weight: Managing your weight helps reduce stress on the knees.
  • Physical therapy: Chronic knee pain can benefit from professional guidance on exercises that address the underlying causes of knee pain.
  • Orthotics: Knee braces can stabilize the joints and aid in healing. Shoe inserts provide extra support for the feet and help maintain leg alignment.

When to See a Doctor

You don’t have to endure knee pain that arises from daily activities like bending. If at-home remedies haven’t provided relief, it’s time to make an appointment with a board-certified doctor at Healthcare Associates of Texas. Our team will work closely with you to determine the most effective treatment for your knee pain.

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