The knee joins the large femoral bone (femur) to the bones of the lower leg (tibia and fibula), and the limb is protected in front by the kneecap (patella). Tendons connect the knee bones to muscles that allow the knee to move, and the ligaments hold the knee joint in place. Two pieces of cartilage (menisci), one medial (medial) and one lateral (lateral) of the knee act as shock absorbers between the femur and tibia, and several fluid-filled sacs (bursae) aid in movement.
Your doctor will ask you about the type of pain you are feeling, and also look at the size of your affected knee compared to your unaffected knee. Any color and temperature changes will be considered as well as the range of movements you can make. The doctor may need further examination through medical ‘imaging’ (x-ray, MRI scan, ultrasound) to detect fluid or possible fractures, and possibly a blood test to identify any cause of rheumatoid or nuclear antibodies. Fluid can also be released from the knee to test uric acid or bacteria if infection or inflammation is suspected.
Most people, regardless of age, experience knee pain at some point in their lives. Older people may experience knee pain and discomfort because of many age-related conditions, and younger people may experience similar symptoms because of sports or other physical activity. However, severe symptoms of knee pain are often a sign of serious knee injury, and you should see a doctor immediately.
What to know about sharp pain in my knee
Sharp knee pain can be very serious, often stopping people in their tracks. It usually indicates a problem in one of the knee bones, or adjacent nerve structures. Sharp knee pain can also occur when there is damage to the soft tissues in and around the knee. Sharp knee pain often lasts for a short time, comes suddenly with some movement and then quickly subsides when you stop the multiplication activity.
In some cases sharp knee pain in and around the knee will persist, but it is usually permanent, or reduced to permanent pain, type or pain. When sharp knee pain is tied to the knee joint, it usually indicates a problem in the knee joint itself as a soft tissue injury or inflammation of the joint. If it is accompanied by a shooting pain that goes down the leg, that usually indicates a nervous problem either in the knee itself, or in the lower back.
Symptoms of sharp knee pain
- Pain When Walking; If the knee pain is severe when you start to walk and then relax, it is probably due to arthritis. If your acute knee pain increases as you walk, it is more likely to be nervous. If it is easy to walk up or down slightly and worse when walking downhill or when standing, there is a possibility of spinal stenosis.
- Pain When Bending; If the pain in your knee becomes more severe when you bend your knee, it is probably a problem in the knee joint such as arthritis or cartilage tears. If it is bad when bending the spine e.g. reaching down to put on your shoes, it is possible because of the stress in your lower back.
- Pain When Standing; If the knee pain gets worse while standing but decreases with movement, it is possible from arthritis. If your knee pain is getting worse with activity there is likely to be a technical problem in the knee such as tears or pain mentioned from the lower back.
- Pain When Kneeling; A sharp injection such as a knee pain when kneeling usually indicates that something is sticking out, usually a burning bursa, known as knee bursitis. There are often obvious swelling and bursitis resembling squashy oranges.
- Pain During Climbing Levels; Severe knee pain going upwards usually indicates a problem with the knee joint (tibiofemoral joint) while if the pain is worse downward, trouble is possible in the kneecap. Find out more about knee pain at the level of the ladder.
Also Pain During Driving, this is very rare and usually indicates that something is interfering with each other. Knee pain during running becomes more painful, pain of the knee type rather than severe pain. Visit the knee pain from the running part to find out more. And Pain When Sitting Down, pain that is exacerbated by prolonged inactivity, such as sitting for more than 20-30 minutes is a common feature of arthritis. If your acute knee pain subsides after a few minutes of movement, arthritis is the most likely cause.
Causes of sharp pain in my knee
1. Joint Wear and Tear
Sharp knee pain in the knee can be a sign of wear and tear within the joint. Cartilage damage, through aging and thinning, or through a tear that causes tears, can lead to the formation of osteophytes, a small bone tumor that protrudes slightly. Knee arthritis causes sharp knee pain. These osteophytes reduce the space between the bones and without cartilage to protect and cover it, the bone marrow against the bone. This usually leads to arthritis.
When the knee is moving, there is friction and pressure on the osteophytes which causes severe knee pain. In this condition, severe pain comes quickly when the knee enters a position that puts pressure on the osteophytes, usually with activities in which there is weight passing through a bent or twisted knee.
Once you move the knee in a different position and reduce the pressure on the osteophytes, the sharp knee pain goes away, but it can stop the aching pain. Often, walking itself feels the same, but when you add extra pressure to the knee joint such as squatting, bending, running or climbing up and down, which causes sharp knee pain. If severe pain progresses to a higher level it usually indicates a problem with the tibiofemoral joint, while if your knee pain is worse descending the ladder is more likely to be a problem with the knee.
2. Loose Bodies
Sharp knee pain can also occur when an object gets stuck in the knee joint while it is moving. In most cases, it is a small piece of bone that gets stuck, usually an osteophyte that is broken. Alternatively, it may be a small piece of cartilage that has removed the meniscus.
One or more of these tiny pieces, known as loose bodies, can rotate inside a joint package. It can sometimes get stuck in the joint and cause sharp knee pain and can cause the knee to close. As soon as it is gone, the pain subsides and normal knee movements return. Pain from a free body is more likely to be intermittent than recurrent. It will not happen every time you do a certain activity, it is more likely to catch you unexpectedly. You can find out more about how cartilage tears cause sharp pain in the knee and how to treat them in the tear section of the meniscus.
3. Nerve Problems
Sharp pain in the knee can also be caused by a nervous breakdown, something bad and one of the most common nerves that travel from the spine to the legs. Our nerves are like electrical wires and travel throughout the body. The leg muscles extend from the lower part of the spinal cord to the different parts of the thigh, knee, calf and leg. They transmit messages from the brain and spinal cord to muscles to tell them what to do and carry signals about emotions such as pressure, pain and heat.
Pressure on the nerve usually produces intense, shooting pain. If the nerves are beaten or irritated, we usually get severe pain. This can be felt remotely when trapped, or it can also travel further along the nerve pathway, feeling more like a shooting pain. Sharp knee pain may also be accompanied by pins and needles or numbness or in the worst cases of muscle weakness.
Nervous pain may be due to nerve entrapment or seizures, for example with an osteophyte, a very stiff muscle or spinal cord. Arteries can also be irritated if they are surrounded by inflammatory chemicals found in the lungs.
4. Knee Fractures
If there is sharp pain in the knee, which does not last and starts because of the injury it may indicate a break in one of the knee bones. Bone fractures such as patella fractures usually cause sharp knee pain. With a broken bone, there is often severe swelling and there may be obvious deformities. Any movement of the bones, though small, is likely to produce sharp, sharp pain in the knee when the broken pieces of bone rub against each other.
It takes a lot of force to break one of the knee bones so you usually know right away that something is wrong. Rest may be in the tibia or femur, or if you have fallen in front of the knee, there may be a fracture of the patella.
5. Knee Cartilage Tear
Sharp pain in the knee is usually caused by something stuck in the knee joint. The loose flap of cartilage can get stuck in the knee as well as cause severe knee pain and stiffness. The surface of each knee bone is covered with a thick layer of carrot that allows for smooth, painless movement by acting as a joint between the joints so that as the knee moves, there is no friction in the bones. Knee cartilage also acts as a shock absorber to reduce force passing through the knee and activities such as running and jumping.
There are two possible ways:
- Cartilage Package: A small piece of cartilage can be completely removed from the main part of the meniscus and around the knee
- Bucket Handle: This is where the partial tear on the cartilage leaves the air that is only connected to the meniscus. This plate can rotate slightly and occasionally stick to the joint
When a weak part of the carrot is stuck in the joint, it usually causes sharp knee pain and often causes locks, where the knee joint is stuck and you cannot move your leg. Usually after a few seconds of rubbing the knee, the carrot moves a little and once the piece is no longer stuck, the pain subsides and the knee moves freely. You can find out more about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options in the Knee Cartilage Wounds section.
Prevention of sharp knee pain
There are many steps you can take in your daily life to prevent knee injury and severe pain, such as the following.
- Maintaining good weight; The knees carry all the weight of the body, so extra pounds can cause stress and strain, increasing the risk of injury.
- Be strong and flexible; The quadriceps muscles and the hamstring provide support to the knee joint, so keeping them strong, in good shape, and flexible will benefit the overall performance of the knee.
- Exercise technique; If you participate in competitive sports and exercises regularly, make sure that your techniques and movements do not cause unnecessary strain on your knees. Work with a coach to make sure that when you are running, jumping or moving sideways, your knee is in a good position to prevent injury.
- Listen to your body; If you find yourself experiencing mild or temporary knee pain after other activities, listen to your body and relax! Relax, ice and lift your knee as soon as you notice severe symptoms of knee pain and make an appointment with your doctor right away.
Treatment of sharp pain in my knee
Treatment of knee pain depends on the cause.
For fractures and broken bones
Broken bones in your knee will need to be evaluated by a health care provider. You may need a cast or bandage to soothe the knee as the bones recover. In case of more severe fractures, you may need surgery, followed by splint and physical therapy.
For tendinitis, runner’s knee, gout, and bursitis
Treatment of conditions that cause swelling, redness, and sedation, burning pain usually begins with joint relaxation. Ice your knee to control swelling. Lift and stay away together to promote healing. Your doctor may recommend or prescribe NSAIDs like ibuprofen. Lifestyle changes, such as wearing a knee brace and going for physical therapy, can help you control pain and get fewer symptoms. You may need to make changes in your diet, especially if you are treating gout.
For ligament, cartilage, and joint tears
Ligament, cartilage and joint tears in your knee will need to be addressed by your doctor. After visualization and clinical evaluation, your doctor will inform you if your treatment will include physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs, or if you will need surgery to repair a wound. Recovery from knee surgery can take time. It can take anywhere from 6 months to a year to start your normal activities.