Sharp Knee Pain

By: Dan Brady PT, DPT  

What Could Cause Sharp Knee Pain When Walking?

Sharp pain in the knee is usually a sign that you have a knee injury. The injury may have occurred over a period of time, or it could have occurred from one specific incident. The quick answer is their are several structures in the knee that can lead to sharp pain.  These include:

  • Tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Cartilage on the Joint Surfaces
  • Meniscus
  • Bursae
  • Knee Cap

Sharp Knee Pain While Walking. JOI RehabSharp Knee Pain While Walking.

Whether you are a competitive athlete, weekend warrior, or someone who frequents the couch; you may experience pain in the knee joint at some point during your life. If you want to learn more about the anatomy of the knee, please watch this VIDEO.

Some common injuries of the knee that can cause pain in the knee joint or sharp pain may include:

Osteoarthritis Can Cause Sharp Pains in Knee

Osteoarthritis is a condition where the cartilage that lines our bone becomes worn or damaged. This can cause significant pain in the joint. The condition can cause stiffness about the joint as well as occasional sharp pain with walking, stair climbing, and standing up from a seated position. This type of issue typically occurs over a period of time.

Meniscus Tears

A meniscus tear can cause sharp knee painMeniscus Tears can cause pain in the knee joint

The Meniscus is soft tissue fibrocartilage. It acts as a cushion and lies between the long bones that make up the knee joint. If this soft tissue is damaged or torn it can cause sharp knee pain with increased activities. This type of injury can occur from one specific incident or from repetitive stress over time.  A medial meniscus tear can cause sharp pain on the inside of the knee.  A lateral meniscus tear can cause sharp pain or an ache type of pain on the outside of the knee joint. 

Chondromalacia Patella

The patella (also known as the kneecap) is an important bone structure that allows the knee to move properly. The backside of the patella is lined with smooth cartilage. If this cartilage becomes worn, it can become a source of pain in the patello-femoral knee joint. This type of injury can occur over time. To learn more, read this article on Chondromalacia Patella.

Bursitis of the Knee

There are several bursae in the knee that can lead to sharp pain.Knee Bursae

A bursa is a lubricated, fluid-filled sac that sits between areas of bone and soft tissue (muscle and skin) where friction can occur. If this bursa becomes irritated or inflamed it can cause pain, which at times, may be sharp. There are several bursae that are around the knee.

Tendinitis of the Knee 

Knee Tendons can become inflamed or torn.  This can cause sharp pain in the knee. Knee Tendons

A tendon is a soft tissue structure that connects muscle to bone. Repetitive use, such as running or higher level sporting activities can put a lot of force and stress through our tendons which in turn can cause inflammation. Tendinitis issues are usually overuse injuries and happen over a period of time.  This type of knee pain can really limit your activities in sport or in your daily life.  The RICE technique is valuable tool for the healing process.

Ligament Sprain or Tear

Knee ligament injuries can cause sharp pain in the knee.Knee ligaments

Ligaments are soft tissue structures that help to stabilize the joint. A complete tear of any of the ligaments can cause stability issues along with pain and significant swelling. Partial tears (sprain) of the ligament can cause sharp pain with movement along with some swelling.

Listed above are only some of the problems that may arise at the knee joint. It is important to be evaluated properly if you are having sharp knee pain. Many of these conditions can be managed conservatively and respond well to physical therapy. Stretching, strengthening and manual therapy can aid in recovery.

JOI is an expert with sharp knee pain. If you suspect that you may have one of these injuries, you should consider seeing a specialist. Be smart about your health. Get assessed, don’t guess!

To learn more about a swollen knee, please go to: what does it mean if my knee swollen?

Knee Pain When Running

If you suffer knee pain when running, a knee brace can help. Read this ARTICLE about knee braces with running. JOI can help diagnose knee pain. Watch this VIDEO why knee pain can't wait for treatment.

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