What Causes A Sharp, Stabbing Pain In Knee?

Do You Get A Sharp, Stabbing Pain In Your Knee?

Watch the video to learn what can cause a sharp, stabbing pain in the knee and how to relieve it...

What Causes A Sharp, Stabbing Pain In The Knee?

There are many things that can cause a sharp, stabbing pain in the knee.  To decide the most likely cause and the best course of treatment, you first have to know the location of the pain.

Causes Of Sharp, Stabbing Pain In Front Of The Knee

Sharp, stabbing pain in the front of the knee can be caused by:

  1. Kneecap arthritis
  2. Patellar tendintis / tendinopathy
  3. Chondromalacia patella

Kneecap (patellofemoral) arthritis

This refers to arthritis (wearing down of the cartilage) on the back side of the kneecap.  The cartilage  normally lubricates joint, but when it wears down, the back of the kneecap rubs against the thigh bone as you bend and straighten your knee, which can cause inflammation.

This is compounded if the thigh (quadriceps) muscles are too stiff, creating further compression of the kneecap on the thigh bone.

Patellar tendinitis / tendinopathy

Patellar tendinitis means inflammation of the tendon below the kneecap.  Tendinopathy means an abnormal condition of the tendon in which there is no inflammation. Both of these problems can still hurt, and the pain is usually felt on the front of the knee just below the kneecap.

This type of pain is caused from too much load on the quadriceps muscles, for example when squatting or going up and down stairs.

Flexibility of the quadriceps muscles can play a role in this type of pain, but more often it comes from the muscle overworking because the glute (a.k.a. butt) muscles aren't doing their fair share.

What about those patellar tendon straps?  Do they work?

Patellar tendon straps can help take the edge off the pain if you have patellar tendonitis.  They relieve stretch on the attachment point of the patellar tendon below the knee, and thus they help temporarily, but they don't fix the main problem. If the quadriceps muscles are still stiff, the pain will eventually come back. Keep reading to learn how to relieve pain on the front of the knee.

Chondromalacia patella

Technically this means "softening" of the cartilage behind the kneecap, but really it's kind of like a precursor to arthritis.  The same things as mentioned above apply - proper flexibility of the quadriceps muscles is needed.

If you have chondromalacia patella, you might also have pain when sitting for long periods of time with your knee bent or knee pain when standing up after sitting.

Pain On The Inside Of The Knee

This can be caused by overpronation (flattening) of the foot when walking, causing abnormal strain on the tendons that attach to the inside of the knee.

Read our post "Pain On The Inside Of The Knee?" to learn more.

Pain On The Outside Of The Knee

Sharp, stabbing pain on the outside of the knee is commonly due to irritation of the IT band.  Tis pain can also be caused by overpronation (flattening) of the foot when walking. much the same as above. Weakness of the hip rotator muscles and stiffness of the ankle joint can be at fault.

Read our post "Pain On The Outside Of The Knee?" to learn more.

How To Relieve Sharp, Stabbing Pain In The Knee?

How To Relieve Sharp, Stabbing Pain In Front Of The Knee

  1. Improve quadriceps flexibility.  The quadriceps are a muscle group in the front of the thigh that straightens the knee. Quadriceps means in Latin "four heads," but the one that most often causes trouble is a 2-joint muscle that also flexes the hip. Watch this video to learn how to stretch your quadriceps and hip flexors.
  2. Use your glute (butt) muscles more, so that the quadricep muscles don't get overworked. One easy way to do this is to keep your weight more on your heels than on your toes when doing things like squatting and going up and down stairs.

How To Relieve Sharp, Stabbing Pain On The Inside Or Outside Of The Knee

  1. Improve ankle & calve flexibility. When your knee can't move straight over your foot (such as when squatting or taking a step while walking), your leg has to twist in order to allow you to do so.  This can cause abnormal strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that attach on both the inside and outside of the knee.  Although stretching your calves is a commonly prescribed exercise for knee pain, most people don't stretch their calves correctly.  Read our post "Calf Stretches: Right or Wrong?" to learn how to stretch your calves correctly.
  2. Strengthen the hip muscles.  The hip abductor and hip external rotator muscles are largely responsible for keeping the knee from going inward too much. Here are some exercises that can help:
    1. Clamshell Exercises
    2. Balancing on One Leg
    3. Single leg mini-squats (as shown in video above)

Want More Useful Tips To Stop Knee Pain?

Download our FREE Guide called "5 Ways To Stop Annoying, Irritating Knee Pain"

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!

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