Why Does My Knee Hurt When I Kneel?

By: Raphael Patino, ATC, LAT

Why Does My Knee Hurt When I Kneel?

There are quite a few things you can do to help alleviate your knee pain. Firstly, using different positions will help you accomplish your tasks while reducing the chance of pain. Where possible, utilize a stool to sit on. 

If you are only experiencing pain in one knee, try a half-kneeling (lunge) position, with the unaffected knee being the one that is down. Incorporating a knee pad will also help disperse the pressure across the knee, helping decrease potential "hot spots" of pressure that could be causing discomfort. Lastly, make sure to take breaks from kneeling, get up and move around, allow blood flow back in the area, and decrease the joint's chance of becoming stiff or painful.

Sometimes doing yard work can hurt your knees when you kneel.  Knee pads can help in some people.Why does my knee hurt when I kneel

Do Knee Pads Work? 

Knee pads are a great addition in the attempt to decrease knee pain with kneeling. When used with compression or even by itself, you’ll likely find significant amounts of relief. Be sure not to overdo it! While the knee pads may relieve your pain, it is not a solution and may lead to similar or increased levels of pain and discomfort if used for extended periods. 

Why does my knee hurt when I kneel? Why am I experiencing this pain in my knee? Read this ARTICLE to learn more about knee pain.

What Makes Up the Knee?

The quick answer is that the knee joint is made up of 4 bones: the tibia (shin), femur (thigh bone), and patella (knee cap) and the fibula (smaller leg bone). The knee also comprises the meniscus, cartilage, bursas, and several ligaments and tendons that run through the knee joint.

Watch this VIDEO to Learn more about Knee Anatomy.

Femur, Tibia, Patella

The femur and the tibia are the main movers of the joint and allow for the hinge motion. This hinge is called the tibiofemoral joint. The patella (knee cap) sits on top of the tibiofemoral joint in a groove. The patella is a floating bone that acts as the center of a seesaw and allows the quadriceps muscles to move the lower leg.


The Meniscus is made up of 2 thick C-shaped cartilage pieces that sit on the tibia in the knee joint and act as shock absorbers for the joint. You can have tears or damage to the meniscus and be symptom-free for years, and change of activity like increasing getting up and down during gardening or new trauma can flare up potential issues.

Symptoms can include pain, swelling, popping, or locking of the knee. The meniscus can be treated several ways depending on severity, including surgical debridement or repair or conservative treatment such as strengthening and range of motion.

Learning about the anatomy of the knee can give you a better understanding to where your knee pain might be located.  Kneeling can cause pain by compressing the knee cap into the groove of the femur.Anatomy of the Knee

Articular Cartilage

Articular cartilage covers the ends of the bones and allows the bones to move on each other smoothly. Cartilage can wear away over the years from leading a normal active life or can be caused by bigger injuries. Physical rehabilitation can help by strengthening the surrounding muscles, decreasing instability between the bones. Physical rehabilitation can also help by increasing the range of motion, which helps alleviate discomfort.


Bursae are sacs that are strategically placed around the body that fill with fluid to reduce friction between tendons and bones. Bursas can become inflamed from repetitive movements or direct blows to an area like falling onto your knee while getting down to the garden. 

Once the bursae are inflamed, you can treat them in several ways. Firstly you can have them drained, have corticosteroids injected in the surrounding area and do rehabilitation to strengthen the surrounding muscles and increase range of motion. Other tools that can help decrease inflammation are modalities such as ultrasound, laser treatments, ice, and heat. 

Why does my knee hurt when I kneel? How do I know where my knee pain is located? Read this ARTICLE to learn more about the anatomy of the knee.

When Should You See an Orthopedic Doctor?

The quick answer, if your pain does not subside or even increases to the point of pain when not performing yard work or kneeling, you should seek care from your Orthopedic doctor to narrow in on what is causing your pain. What is unique about JOI is our team approach to treating your knee pain. Our physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, athletic trainers, and massage therapists all work together to provide you with the best care possible. JOI has knee-specific treatment protocols to provide the best outcomes.

Want to find more answers on "Why does my knee hurt when I kneel"? Check out our anatomy videos HERE. You can also read about other conservative treatment options for the knee.

Knee Doctors in Jacksonville - Why Does My Knee Hurt When I Kneel?

To schedule for physical therapy at a JOI Rehab Center, please call 904-858-7045.

Your question, "Why does my knee hurt when I kneel?" can be answered by a JOI knee doctor. To schedule an appointment with a JOI Orthopedic Knee Specialist, call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below.

See a Knee Specialist

Book Appointment

Skip to content