Stiff Knee Pain When Bending

What could be causing a stiff knee that’s painful when bent?

The knee joint is made up of many parts. It has three articulating bones, which are the thighbone, shinbone and kneecap. This joint also contains cartilage, ligaments and other soft tissue. Any of these structures could be injured or damaged and be a source of knee stiffness and pain, especially when doing activities that require bending of this joint. 

People living with these knee symptoms are at greater risk of other serious health problems. For instance, the desire to reduce pain by not moving can lead to obesity, and this weight issue could actually lead to an increase in your symptoms. Physical therapists can help you find ways to treat many of the causes of knee pain and stiffness. However, understanding the root cause of your symptoms is vital to effectively treating them. 

Three issues that could cause a stiff knee or pain when bending the knee

Physical therapists see many issues that can lead to stiffness or pain when bending a knee. Sports injuries are a common source of these symptoms, and car accidents can lead to a knee injury as well. However, these three issues are some of the most common causes of symptoms like knee stiffness and pain: 

  1. Patellar tracking disorder — This disorder happens with the kneecap doesn’t stay in its normal groove when the knee is moved. It’s common for the kneecap to shift too far toward the outside of your knee with this issue. Also, patellar tracking disorder can lead to knee pain, stiffness and instability. This issue is common in athletes and older people with osteoarthritis. 
  1. Osteoarthritis — Normal wear and tear on the knee joint can lead to a condition called osteoarthritis. This is when the cartilage in the joint wears away over time, and it can lead to joint inflammation. Knee osteoarthritis can also cause stiffness, pain and issues like patellar tracking disorder. 
  1. Meniscus tear — A meniscus tear is when the C-shaped piece of cartilage in the knee called the meniscus is torn. This piece of cartilage cushions the ends of the thighbone and shinbone during knee movement. A tear in the meniscus can make it harder to move your knee. It could also lead to pain and odd popping or grinding sounds during certain movements. 

SOL Physical Therapy can help treat knees that are stiff and painful when bent

Do you feel stiffness or pain when bending your knee? Our SOL Physical Therapy team in Oakland, California, can help. Our clinic offers free screenings that can make it easier for you to begin your treatment. We also provide each patient with an individualized treatment plan, and the plan we build for you could draw benefits from therapy methods like: 


Contact our team today for more information about knee problems we can help treat or to schedule an initial appointment. 

About the author

Sports + Orthopedic Leaders Physical Therapy & Performance Training serves the communities of Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, Orinda, San Francisco and beyond. SOLPT’s award winning team of Physical Therapists, Performance Coaches and movement experts has helped thousands reach their rehabilitation and performance goals to move beyond pain. We're committed to helping anyone of any fitness level move effectively and more powerfully for a lifetime. We offer rehabilitation and performance services to all populations, with specialties in Sports Rehabilitation, Active Release Techniques, and Manual Therapy Techniques plus Personal and Small Group Training, Sport Clinics and Wellness Services.