Why Your Knee Feels Tight When Bending It

knee feels tight when bending
Table of Contents

Wondering why your knee feels tight when bending it? Knee tightness and knee pain when bending are common complaints our Dallas knee specialists hear.

A common complaint about the knees is tightness and stiffness. Injury, mechanical difficulties, or physical pressures on your knees, such as extra weight, can all create tightness in your knee. In addition, a lack of strength or flexibility may be partly responsible for your knee feeling tight when bending.

If you’ve had a knee injury or have a medical condition like gout, arthritis, or an infection, you’re more prone to have knee tightness. Physical therapy is a crucial part of the recovery process for any musculoskeletal injury or discomfort.

At SPORT Orthopedics + Physical Therapy, our physical therapists can determine the best course to treat knee stiffness, which may include surgery or therapeutic exercises. A qualified sports medicine doctor in Dallas will ensure that you receive the treatment you need to get back in the game.

Knee Pain When Bending

Your body sends out pain signals to keep you from aggravating an injury. Pain, like any other persistent ailment, can create knee stiffness because it restricts movement.

Excess fluid builds up inside the knee due to an accident, overuse, or a medical issue. Stiffness and pain can result from this. You may not notice swelling unless you’ve had a serious injury because it can be subtle. While you may not visibly see a swollen knee, you may feel it as stiffness.

Because the knee has less space due to the swelling, movement is limited. Irritation, internal bleeding, and knee injuries can all lead to fluid buildup. This causes your knee to feel tight when bending.

My Knee Hurts When I Bend It and Straighten It – Why?

If your knee hurts when you bend it and straighten it, several factors could be contributing to this pain. You may have suffered an injury, such as a sprain or strain. Or, it could result from repetitive stress on your knee joint.

Additionally, conditions like osteoarthritis, tendonitis, or meniscus tears can lead to pain during knee movement. Issues with ligaments or cartilage can also lead to pain in the knee joint. The best way to understand why your knee hurts when bending and straightening it is to speak with the orthopedic professionals at SPORT.

My Knee Hurts When I Straighten It and Put Pressure on It – Why?

Pain when straightening the knee and applying pressure could be indicative of various underlying issues, such as a strained ligament, stiff knee syndrome, meniscus tear, patellar tendonitis, or even arthritis. These conditions can cause discomfort due to inflammation, tissue damage, or misalignment of the knee joint.

Seeking medical attention is essential to determine the exact cause of your pain and to receive appropriate treatment. Treatments may include rest, physical therapy, medication, or in severe cases, surgical intervention.

Causes of Knee Tightness

knee feels tight when bending

Knee stiffness and knee instability commonly occur in older adults and individuals who exercise vigorously. This can be caused by a lack of flexibility or muscular imbalances in the legs. Knee stiffness can also be caused by injury or arthritis.

To gain a better understanding of what may be causing your knee pain, take a look at our Knee Pain Location Chart.

Some of the most prevalent causes of a stiff knee are listed below. Our knee specialists also offer knee instability treatment in Dallas.

Injured Ligaments Can Cause Tightness Behind Knee

Injuries to the knee ligaments can result from trauma or hyperextension. These are common in people who are very active or who participate in sports. There may be internal bleeding if you sprain, rupture, or tear one of the knee ligaments. Swelling, stiffness, and restricted movement result from ligament injuries. Our hyperextended knee treatment in Dallas is an option.

Injured Meniscus Can Cause Sharp Pain in Knee When Bending

knee pain when bending

The cartilage between the bones of the knee joint becoming damaged or torn causes a meniscus injury. Applying pressure to or rotating your knee, typical in sports requiring quick spins and stops, can be the culprit of cartilage damage. Something as simple as standing up too quickly from a squat or taking the stairs may also create meniscal tears.

They can also be caused by degenerative disorders like osteoarthritis. We offer cartilage injury treatment in Dallas, such as cartilage transplants for more severe osteoarthritis injuries.

Pain and swelling are a symptom of a meniscus tear. Moving your knee through its complete range of motion may be hard, making it feel stuck in one position. These movement constraints cause your knee to feel tight when bending. Dallas meniscus tear treatment may be an option for those with these types of knee injuries.

Tightness in Knee After Knee Surgery

After surgery, it’s expected that your knee feels tight when bending. This can be improved with adequate treatment. After surgery, it’s critical to follow the right steps to thoroughly heal and avoid knee tightness. By practicing rehabilitation exercises, you can improve the strength, stability, and flexibility of your knee.

Some common surgical procedures for the knee that our Dallas orthopedic surgeons perform include:

Keep your knee brace on after surgery and use crutches. Be sure that the brace fits correctly. Two fingers should be able to fit beneath the strap. The brace is usually worn for two to six weeks.

Why Is My Knee So Tight After Meniscus Surgery?

After meniscus surgery, your knee might feel tight due to inflammation, swelling, and scar tissue formation around the surgical site. The body’s natural response to surgery is to initiate a healing process, which can lead to temporary stiffness and tightness in the knee joint.

Post-operative rehabilitation and physical therapy focuses on restoring strength and flexibility, as well as alleviating stiff knee pain. It’s very important to follow all rehabilitation guidelines after surgery to promote property healing and regain mobility in your knee.

Arthritis Causes Pain When Bending Knee

knee tightness

Knee pain without injury and stiffness can be caused by three different forms of arthritis:

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own tissues. It usually affects both knees.

Swelling of the synovial membrane, a thin membrane that covers the inside lining of the knee joint, is a common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. This swelling causes knee stiffness and joint inflammation.


The wear and tear of the cartilage between the bones causes knee osteoarthritis. The bones within the knee rub against each other as the cartilage within the knee deteriorates. The friction of the bones can result in spurs, which are bony growths. These cause stiffness and joint inflammation.

Post-Traumatic Arthritis

Injuries such as meniscal and ligament tears can raise the risk of subsequent injury to the knee joint. This can eventually lead to post-traumatic arthritis. This type of arthritis develops years after a person suffers a knee injury.

Knee symptoms of post-traumatic arthritis include:

  • Edema in the knee joint
  • Pain in the knee
  • Weak knees
  • Symptoms become worse after physical activity
  • Wet weather worsens symptoms

Weak Muscles Can Cause Pain When Bending Knee

Knee tightness can be prevented by maintaining flexibility in the leg muscles around your knee. This helps keep them strong enough to support your body. Knee tightness is supposed to be reduced by strong legs, hips, and buttocks.

Stretches For Knee Tightness and Knee Stiffness

pain in back of knee when bending

Someone whose knee feels tight when bending should avoid exercising in some instances. That’s because some knee ailments require time to heal and may be better served by rest than exercise.

A stiff knee caused by arthritis, on the other hand, may benefit from exercising. According to the Arthritis Foundation, certain workouts and stretches can aid in various ways:

  • Strengthening exercises: Increasing muscular strength around the knee joint relieves joint tension. Leg lifts and hamstring curls are examples of these exercises.
  • Range-of-motion exercises: Stretches and exercises that expand the range of motion of the knee keep the joint moving, which helps to alleviate stiffness. Heel slides and stretching with a yoga strap are examples of these activities.
  • Aerobic exercises: Cardio exercises can increase a person’s energy levels and help them lose weight, which helps reduce strain on the knee. Cycling and swimming are examples of these exercises.
  • Balance exercises: The muscles surrounding the knee are strengthened, while also lowering the danger of falling and further damaging the joint. Single leg standing and standing on a foam pad are two examples of these workouts.

Before beginning any new fitness routines or programs, a person with arthritis should consult with their doctor.

Tips for Knee Joint Stretches and Knee Exercises

It’s critical to follow a few tips when conducting knee stretches and exercises in order to get the most out of them. Here are some pointers:

  • Warm up before stretching your muscles.
  • Don’t bounce in a stretch. Instead, slowly ease into it to avoid tearing a muscle.
  • Stretch for a minimum of ten minutes at least two to three times each week. Stretching frequently helps improve your range of motion and flexibility.
  • Be sure to use correct posture and proper form during stretching or exercise.
  • Equally stretch all sides of your body.
  • Don’t force tight muscles to stretch further than they’re comfortable with.
  • You know your body. Go to your limit, but don’t overdo it or cause yourself pain.

When you work with a Dallas physical therapist at SPORT, they will help you learn how to move and stretch your knees to help with pain. Physical therapy is a crucial part of recovery, regardless of whether you have surgery. Schedule an appointment with one of our compassionate physical therapists to learn more about how proper stretching and exercise techniques can help with your pain.

Knee Feels Tight When Bending Treatment

Treatment choices when a knee feels tight when bending are determined by the underlying cause.

If the damage is slight, the following home remedies may relieve pain and reduce swelling while the injury heals:

  • Rest your knee
  • Regularly apply an ice pack to the knee
  • Use over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Stabilize your knee and reduce the risk of further injury with a knee brace

Those with more serious injuries or recurrent knee pain should speak with their doctor. The doctor determines the reason for the knee stiffness and makes therapy recommendations.

These therapies can vary depending on the reason for the knee stiffness:

  • Utilizing corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
  • Improving knee function and total mobility with physical therapy
  • Pharmaceuticals for rheumatoid arthritis
  • Taking prescription pain medications

When to See a Doctor for Knee Pain When Bending

If a person suspects a torn or injured knee, they should consult a doctor as soon as possible. Immediate treatment helps to limit the danger of additional harm.

Additionally, if a person’s knee feels tight when bending and is accompanied by other symptoms like pain or edema, they should visit a doctor.

Knee Injury and Knee Pain Treatment in Dallas, Prosper, Wylie, and Frisco, TX

tightness in knee

Knee stiffness is a common issue. People who are highly active or play sports and older adults are most likely to experience it.

A knee feels tight when bending for a variety of factors, including accidents and arthritis. Knee stiffness and accompanying symptoms are often relieved with rest, ice packs, and over-the-counter drugs.

We at SPORT Orthopedics + Physical Therapy have extensive experience serving the Dallas, Frisco, Prosper, and Wylie communities. Whether you require surgery or physical therapy, we can help. Please call our office at 469-200-2832 or complete our online intake form today, for additional information or to make an appointment with us.