Sharp Pain In Knee While Walking

  • The Mayo Clinic states that sharp pain in knee when walking comes and goes, especially when walking and moving around.
  • According to Johns Hopkins University, the knee structure’s general wear and tear, including the cartilage and kneecap, is the most common cause among adults dealing with a sharp needle like pain in knee when walking.
  • Cleveland Clinic states that sharp stabbing pain in knee when walking could be a sign of an injury while aching pain could be a sign of arthritis.

Seniors have been turning to articles on Health Report Live to get the information they need to manage sharp pain in the knee when walking. Here is what you should know about this condition.

What Could Cause Sharp Knee Pain When Walking?

Sharp pain in knee when walking that comes and goes has various causes, including aging, stress from repetitive tasks, and sports injuries. If you suffer from intense knee pain, it is best to see a doctor for a diagnosis of the cause and to create a treatment plan.

The Mayo Clinic lets us know the standard health care procedure for diagnosing knee problems. During the exam, your doctor will look at your knee, checking for swelling, pain, tenderness, and any visible signs of trauma. They will check the mobility of the knee, including how far the joint can bend and straighten.

Additionally, the doctor may offer medical advice and order an X-ray, CT scan, ultrasound scan, or MRI of the knee joint to better look at the structure. If there is a possibility of an infection, the doctor may request blood tests or an arthrocentesis, which pulls fluid from the knee to have it analyzed.

Your doctor will look for damage to the meniscus, ACL, and the general area around the patella. They will first check for common causes of knee pain before moving on to more serious damage to the front of the knee. They can also check for damage to the femur, shinbone, or conditions like Band Syndrome.

Accompanying Symptoms of Knee Pain When Walking?

People experience sharp needle like pain in knee when walking that may be accompanied by different symptoms including pain in the musculoskeletal system.

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease (NIAMS) says that damages to the musculoskeletal system include fractures, stress fractures, sprains, strains, ligament tears, dislocations, bursitis, and tendinitis. 

These injuries can cause temporary pain while the body heals, plus it may cause long-term pain, which can come and go or become aggravated when walking.

Aging also contributes to knee pain in the form of arthritis, which has several types, all causing various kinds of pain and discomfort. Different types of arthritis can cause knee pain. These include rheumatoid arthritis, knee arthritis, and conditions like gout that may make it hard to walk down stairs.

It is common for these types of pain to be caused by damage to the tibia, runner’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome. The knee is a complex joint and can be worn down leading to a torn meniscus, jumper’s knee, and other meniscal damage.

Besides a meniscus tear, damage to your thigh bone, anterior cruciate ligament, and collateral ligament may all cause this type of pain.

Risk Factors and Complications of Knee Pain While Walking?

It is not uncommon for patients to experience a sharp stabbing pain in knee when walking or even worsening knee pain when walking. Severe pain occurs when walking because the knee is moving, however the pressure is being applied to the joint from standing up and putting weight on the joint.

This adds strain to the iliotibial band and may aggravate conditions like Osgood-Schlatter disease, patellar damage, and other orthopaedic conditions. Walking can also strain the medial ligaments of the knee and can add stress to a bursa.

Over time, when walking, you may hear grinding or scraping noises coming from the knee. According to NIAMS, grinding noises from within the knee are common in those with knee osteoarthritis, when the cartilage and tissues within the knee joint break down from aging, being overweight, injury, overuse, and family history.

With osteoarthritis, the Cleveland Clinic states that it is not uncommon for pain to worsen if an individual’s body weight is at an unhealthy level. 

Most people with osteoarthritis experience worsening pain later in the day from walking all day or when they are more active. Some even experience a sharp needle like pain in knee when walking. 

When To See A Doctor

You should see a doctor for your knee pain for a variety of reasons. Here are the most important factors.

The Mayo Clinic states that a major reason to schedule an appointment with your doctor is that your knee pain is not going away. Even mild pain that does not go away can be a sign of underlying medical problems. 

If your knee pain is accompanied by swelling, redness, or is too extreme to continue your daily activities, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. 

Why Does The Pain Come And Go?

The Cleveland Clinic states that there are two major types of pain. Acute pain is temporary and is usually the result of an injury or illness. Chronic pain is long-term and may flare up, fade away, and persist even after an injury or illness fully heals.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, roughly 25% of American adults experience some type of chronic pain. This can be caused by conditions that affect the knee like muscle pain or arthritis.

Treatment and Remedies of Knee Pain While Walking

If you have sharp shooting knee pain, you have already identified a few things that help make the pain less intense. In addition, several at-home treatment options can help temporarily subside knee pain, which for some may go away when the knee heals, and others may start experiencing pain shortly after at-home treatments stop.

If over-the-counter medications are not working, doctors may prescribe stronger medications to help with inflammation and pain. The Mayo Clinic states that another option is to have the doctor administer injections, such as corticosteroids, platelet-rich plasma, or hyaluronic acid injections to provide pain relief at the knee. 

Finally, if all else fails, the doctor may recommend surgery, including arthroscopic surgery, osteotomy, partial knee replacement, or total knee replacement.

If surgery is not something you want, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic state that treatments like wearing a knee brace, modifying daily activities to reduce pain, and practicing gentle stretches can all help.

Prevention of Knee Pain When Walking

The Rush University Medical Center states that there are steps you can take to help prevent sharp pain in knee when walking. You can start preventing knee pain by limiting strain while walking. This includes walking slower, not carrying weight while walking, and walking on even, soft surfaces like grass.

You can also lower knee pain while walking by working with your doctor to treat underlying conditions that cause this type of pain. Arthritis, gout, and tendon damage can all be treated to prevent knee pain from getting worse.

One of the best things you can do for knee pain is to come up with an exercise plan that is right for your condition and helps strengthen your knees.

Exercises For Knee Pain Relief

A doctor may refer you to physical therapy for your knee pain; however, The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states that there are several at-home exercises you can do to help provide you with knee pain relief. These exercises can be conducted with or without going to physical therapy.

Before starting any form of exercise for your knee pain, speak with your physician to learn more about which exercises can help your knee and which ones may be too intense for your condition or injury.
Harvard Medical School recommends these knee exercises:

  • Side-leg rise
  • Single-leg lift
  • Hamstring stretch
  • Quadriceps stretch

Having a knee injury or arthritis can significantly affect your day-to-day life. Many experience pain so intensely that they avoid physical activity and often stay home to rest. Those suffering from sharp-shooting knee pain can find relief through various activities, including rest and gentle exercise.

However, if knee pain worsens or becomes completely unbearable, speak with your physician to see which options you have available to help you with your sharp shooting knee pain.

Seniors can take a look at more articles from Health Report Live to stay one step ahead of their knee pain.

Sean Byers, MD

Sean Byers, MD

Sean Byers is currently a Resident in the Internal Medicine program at UTMB. He studied at the University of Queensland School of Medicine as well as received his Master’s in Public Health with a focus in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Southern California. His background is in biology, computer science, public health, and internal medicine.

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