Sharp Knee Pain



A Quick Guide to Sharp Knee Pain

There are many conditions that can cause sharp knee pain symptoms, and because of the complexity of the knee any number of factors can be involved.  Sometimes sharp knee pain is temporary-too much exercise, a slight twist, fell asleep on the couch with your leg in the wrong position, etc., and goes away quickly. Some is the result of a lifetime of excessive use or abuse (prolonged abnormal posture or repeated injury to the same area), but other sharp knee pain is persistent for long periods of time, and in some cases worsens.  This pain is the result of an underlying problem and should not be ignored.


Of all joints, the knee joint seems to routinely cause people the most problems.  In 2006, approximately 30% of all adults reported having joint pain during the 30 days prior to the survey. Sharp knee pain was the number one joint targeted by 18%-or over half of those surveyed. An estimated 9 in 10 people have suffered sharp knee pain for more than a few days at some point in their lives

Sharp knee pain can range from the very slight, annoying type to irregular intervals of stabbing to constant pain, or a persistent pinching sensation. This pain can occur in all areas of the knee-the joint, the outside part, the front, the inside part, or the back. Location, duration and intensity can all reveal clues as to why one experiences pain.

Injuries resulting in sharp knee pain can affect the tendons or bursae (fluid-filled sac surrounding knee joint), or they can be affecting the bone, or cartilage that forms the joint. Ligaments are another prime candidate-they not only help form the joint but work with tendons as support for the knee.


Sharp knee pains are sometimes hard to pinpoint due to the inconsistency of the pain. Arthritis is at the top of the list for many of the symptoms.  It can develop from an old injury or as a result of diet and lifestyle.  It often begins gradually-affecting the mobility of the knee intermittently until one day, left unchecked, becomes debilitating.

Some of the more common reasons for sharp knee pain are bits of bone/cartilage that have broken away within the knee.  As the shifting of these pieces interfere with the working of the knee harp pain is experienced.  Another condition is chondromalacia which occurs when the cartilage under the knee cap becomes too soft to offer proper cushioning.  When the patella (kneecap) is out of place it puts stress on the muscles and ligaments around the knee. This problem is common and caused by things such as bad posture or improper gait; also leading to sharp knee pain.

Bursitis and tendonitis are both notorious for sharp knee pain.  This happens when the bursae or tendons of the knee become inflamed.  Meniscal injuries are associated with a tear of the main or supporting ligaments of the knee. Although X-rays cannot detect injuries such as meniscal, they can rule out arthritis, osteoarthritis, loose bone fragments, or, even a broken bone-all of which result in sharp knee pain.

Care should be taken with diagnosis, especially with arthritis.  Meaning inflammation of the joints it can easily become a catch all for sharp knee pain. For this reason, it is important to have your symptoms reviewed by a professional (rather than listening to others and diagnosing yourself) in order to determine their root.  Aside from rest, knee elevation, pain relievers, ice and/or heat packs there is little that can be done, although some find relief with the use of a knee brace.