How To Stop A Sharp, Stabbing Pain In Knee That Comes And Goes

Do You Get A Sharp, Stabbing Pain In Your Knee That Comes And Goes

Watch the video to learn what can cause a sharp, stabbing pain in the knee that comes and goes and how to stop your knee pain before it starts...

Sharp, stabbing pain in your knee that comes and goes for no reason can be scary.

You may worry that something is seriously wrong with your knee, and it can make you afraid to move.

In most cases though, sharp, stabbing pin in the knee isn't a serious problem.  Often just a few changes in the way that you move can relieve the pain.

Hopefully after reading this post, you'll better understand what's causing the sharp, stabbing pain in your knee so that it doesn't seem like it's coming and going for no reason.

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 A Sharp, Stabbing Pain In The Knee That Comes And Goes?

There are many things that can cause a sharp, stabbing pain in the knee.  The best treatment to stop your knee pain depends largely on where in your knee the pain is located.

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 tendinitis / tendinopathy
  3. Chondromalacia patella

Kneecap (patellofemoral) arthritis

The patellofemoral joint pain is one common cause of pain on the front of your knee.  Patellofemoral arthritis refers wearing down of the cartilage on the back of the kneecap.

patellofemoral joint pain can cause sharp stabbing pain in knee that comes and goes

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

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

This can cause a sharp, stabbing pain in the knee when going down stairs.

Patellar tendinitis / tendinopathy

Patellar tendinitis means inflammation of the tendon below the kneecap.

Patellar tendonitis can cause sharp stabbing pain in front of knee that comes and goes

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. Unfortunately, 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. This causes abnormal strain on the tendons that attach to the inside of the knee.

the pes anserine tendons can cause sharp stabbing in knee that comes and goes

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.  This 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)

Need Help For A Sharp, Stabbing Pain In Your Knee?

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