The Connection Between Knee Pain and Muscle Weakness

Knee Pain

When there are problems that affect joints, or the areas where bones meet together, you may experience pain along with other symptoms like swelling and stiffness. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider or physical therapist before starting any exercise program to ensure that it is right for you. The movement and stability of your hips and knees work together and share several muscles.

Many individuals experience knee pain at some point in their lives, and one common cause is muscle weakness. When the muscles around the knee are weak, they are unable to properly support and stabilize the joint, leading to increased stress on the knee and potential injury.

Analyses were knee-based and utilized generalized estimating equations to adjust for correlations between knees within participants. To avoid selection bias, analyses were repeated using imputed data for participants missing baseline and follow-up WOMAC pain scores not due to total knee replacement. These data were estimated with a multiple imputation model using the Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method. Several strengths of the current study contributed to advancing understanding of the relationship between muscle function and worsening of knee pain. Though an MCID for worsening WOMAC pain has been reported in the literature, it was not utilized because MCID\’s may vary depending on the population under study as well as the method used for determining it29–33. However, the MDC90 cut-off for worsening in this study represented at least a 15% change from the maximal possible score of the baseline pain WOMAC subscale.

Mostly affecting people born female over the age of 50, osteoporosis is an age-related bone disease that can lead to weakness and fractures. It may affect any part of the body, though the wrists, spine, and hips are more common. A gout flare-up may cause severe pain, swelling, and stiffness that may last 1 to 2 weeks at a time. Bursitis is a type of inflammation of a bursa, which is a small sac that cushions your bones, tendons, and muscles. It can cause pain, swelling, and redness along the infected joint.

Understanding the Role of Muscles in Knee Health

If it\’s particularly big, the cyst may cause some stiffness or discomfort. Overuse pain tends to be in the front of the knee or deep in the knee behind the kneecap. The pain can worsen with going down stairs or sitting for a long time.

The muscles surrounding the knee joint play a crucial role in providing support and stability to the knee. These muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles, help to absorb shock, control movement, and protect the knee from excessive strain.

As with the inside of your knee, the outside (lateral) portion of the knee joint is a crossroads of many different structures. Because of the complexity of the knee joint, these structures are vulnerable to both long- and short-term injury. Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee occurs when the slippery cartilage that covers the end of your thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia) starts to deteriorate. OA frequently affects the medial portion of the knee, known as the medial tibiofemoral compartment. The inside (medial) portion of the knee contains an array of bones, ligaments, and soft tissues, all contained within a relatively small area.

Unlike arthritis, bursitis tends to have a sudden and severe onset. You might also feel pain that extends beyond the affected joint. The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of tough, rubbery cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between the shinbone and the thighbone. It can be torn if you suddenly twist your knee while bearing weight on it.

Patellar tendonitis, also called \”jumper\’s knee,\” results in pain at the base of your kneecap, while quadriceps tendonitis results in pain at the top of your kneecap. \”High-impact weight-bearing exercises aren\’t recommended for people whose knee pain is due to arthritis,\” says Dr. Brooks. Your knee is a complex joint, and pain can occur as a result of problems in the knee itself, as well as tightness or weakness in the muscles or inflammation in the tendons surrounding it. Your knees are two of the largest, most heavily used joints in your body. It\’s no wonder, then, that knee pain is both pretty common and pretty hard to ignore. Dr. Paul says for chronic inside knee pain, a warm shower or heat pack can help the knee feel less stiff as it improves blood circulation to the knee.

When these muscles are weak, the knee becomes more susceptible to injury and pain. Weak muscles can lead to poor alignment of the knee joint, increased pressure on the surrounding ligaments and tendons, and decreased overall stability.

Common Causes of Muscle Weakness

There are several factors that can contribute to muscle weakness around the knee. These include lack of exercise, poor posture, overuse injuries, and underlying medical conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis.

Additionally, aging can also play a role in muscle weakness, as muscle mass naturally decreases with age. This loss of muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, can impact the strength and function of the muscles surrounding the knee.

Addressing Knee Pain Due to Muscle Weakness

Fortunately, knee pain caused by muscle weakness can often be alleviated through targeted exercises and physical therapy. Strengthening the muscles around the knee, particularly the quadriceps and hamstrings, can help to improve stability and reduce pain.

Incorporating activities such as squats, lunges, and leg lifts into your exercise routine can help to build strength in the muscles supporting the knee joint. Additionally, working with a physical therapist can provide personalized guidance and support in addressing muscle weakness and improving knee health.


Overall, muscle weakness can have a significant impact on knee health and contribute to pain and discomfort. By understanding the relationship between muscle strength and knee function, individuals can take proactive steps to address muscle weakness and improve the health of their knees.

Scroll to Top