Knee Pain When Twisting? 4 Effective Strategies for Relief

Do You Get Knee Pain When Twisting?

Watch the video to learn what causes knee pain when twisting and how to tell if it's serious. Plus learn 4 ways to stop knee pain when twisting.

Knee Pain Guide by Knee Pain Specialist Dr. Dave Candy. More 4 Life, St. Louis, Manchester, Ballwin, Chesterfield, Des Peres, Ellisville, MO Learn to relieve: knee pain when going up and down stairs, knee pain when sitting, knee pain when walking, and more!

What Causes Knee Pain When Twisting?

Common times when people get knee pain when twisting include changing directions when walking, swinging a golf club, or cutting to when playing a sport.

Knee pain when twisting can be a sign of a serious problem, but often it's just a warning signal telling you to stop before you cause serious damage.

The knee joint isn't designed to twist very much, but it can twist a few degrees in each direction.

Your ligaments restrain your knee from twisting too much.

Cruciate Ligaments of the Knee

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) prevent excessive internal rotation of your lower leg (tibia) on your thigh (femur).

Conversely, the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) prevent your tibia from twisting too far into external rotation.

When you twist too far, it puts tension on your ligaments.  Your ligaments then in turn send a warning signal to your brain as feedback to stop the motion before you cause damage.  This warning signal is often perceived as pain.

Is My Knee Pain From Twisting Serious?

Your ligaments are very strong, so it takes a lot of force to actually tear them. However, excessive twisting forces can cause damage to ligaments.

If you feel like your knee is giving out and won't support your bodyweight, then there's a chance you may have injured a ligament. In that case, it's worth getting your knee further examined by your doctor or physical therapist to make sure that the knee is structurally stable.

However, if you're just having pain but no instability in your knee, your ligaments may just be sending warning signals. In that case, it's still worth getting your knee checked out to find out what you can do to fix your knee problem before it causes a serious injury.

Other Causes of Knee Pain When Twisting

Meniscus Tears

Additionally, the meniscus – the two fibrocartilage discs that line the inner side of the knee and the outer side of the knee – can also cause knee pain when you're twisting.

A meniscus tear can cause knee pain when twisting

The menisci help make the knee joint surface deeper. They function for improving knee stability and shock absorption.

When you twist excessively on your knee, it an grind on the menisci. If you do that excessively over time, the menisci can start to wear down or even tear.

Knee Arthritis

Excessive twisting can also wear down the cartilage that lines your joint - the articular cartilage or hyaline cartilage.

Knee Arthritis can cause knee pain when twisting

This can lead to the development of knee arthritis.

And if you already have arthritis, where you have some knee cartilage loss, you may experience knee pain when twisting.

Your knee cartilage normally lubricates the joint surfaces and allows them to glide more smoothly on each other.

However if you have knee arthritis, that grinding can cause inflammation and pain.

Regardless of the cause, if you have knee pain when twisting, the following tips may help.

4 Ways To Stop Knee Pain When Twisting

1. Avoid Twisting On A Planted Foot

The first tip is to avoid twisting on a planted foot in the first place. If you're changing directions, pick your feet up and take smaller steps as you're turning.

In situations where you have to pivot, move your first foot and then pivot on your toes.

2. Hip Swivel Exercise

Secondly, another tip is to learn how to pivot from your hips.

Since the hip is a ball and socket joint, it's well suited to do twisting movements.

However, when you have stiff hips, you transfer some of that twisting to your knees.

Therefore, second tip is to do a hip swivel exercise.

This exercise is to help you learn how to properly twist at the hip joints.

You can practice by shifting your weight back and forth from the outside of one foot and to the inside of the other as you turn your pelvis from side to side.

hip swivel exercise to stop knee pain when twisting hip swivel exercise to stop knee pain when twisting

This hip movement is important if you swing a golf club, tennis racket, or a pickleball paddle.

These sports require a lot of hip rotational-type movement.

Even if you don't participate in such sports, everyday activities such as moving around in the kitchen or moving clothes from the washer to the dryer, also requires some amount of twisting.

By practicing the hip swivel exercise, you can do this motion your hips and avoid knee pain when twisting

3. Single Leg Pelvic Twist Exercise

The third tip is to learn to pivot your pelvis while standing on one leg.

If you don't have good balance, hold on to something for safety when doing this exercise

To do this exercise, twist your pelvis right and left while balancing on one leg.

single leg pelvic twist exercise

Make sure that your pelvis stays level from the floor and that movement is occurring at the hip joint, not the knee.

Additionally, you want to make sure that your knee isn't buckling inwards.

Rotate your pelvis back and forth on a fixed leg while avoiding twisting at the knee.

4. Knee Internal Rotation Self-Mobilization

What is the treatment if you already have knee pain that was caused by twisting?

The most common twisted knee position is where your thigh bone (femur) rotates inward and your lower leg bone (tibia) rotates outward.

Your knee joint can get stuck in this rotated position and places significant strain on your knee ligaments.

Consequently, it can cause pain on the inside or outside parts of the knee.

For the last tip, cross your leg in a seated position.

Then you're going to wrap one hand around the lower leg bone (tibia) just below the knee and rotate it towards you.

At the same time, press outwards on the thigh bone (femur) just above the knee to rotate it away from you.

Medial tibial glide and rotation

As a result, this internally rotates the tibia, while externally rotating the femur.

This self-mobilization technique rotates the knee joint back into a more optimal positioning.

Often, this can relieve your knee pain very quickly if you have knee pain from twisting.

Need Help For A Twisted Knee?

If you've tried these tips and you still have knee pain when you're twisting, it's time to see a healthcare professional so that you can:

  1. Make sure you didn't injure a ligament or meniscus.
  2. Find out how to get your knee feeling better.

If you're in the St Louis area and you need help for knee pain when twisting, we'd be happy to help you at More 4 Life.

Just tap the button below to request an appointment with one of our specialist physical therapists.

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