The WAITING ROOM > General knee questions and comments (good for new threads)

Pain only when kneeling

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fernfield:
Hello
I'm a 55 year old woman, extremely fit, work outdoors, plenty of energy - some of my tasks require kneeling [I use kneepads on hard or cold surfaces].  But recently if I put ANY weight on my left knee at all I get a really sharp pain - like a knitting needle or something.  It is instantly relieved when I take the weight off it.  I have no swelling and no pain unless kneeling.  Any ideas?
Thanks.

Heather M.:
You're gonna hit me, but...you probably shouldn't kneel.  It sounds like, with your age and activity levels, you may be experiencing the results of absolutely normal wear and tear on the knee joint.  Just about everyone will develop signs of arthritis or degenerated cartilage by the time they are 60.  Some never have symptoms--they are very lucky!  Others gradually report not being able to tolerate impact activities or things like kneeling that put pressure on the cartilage on the back of the kneecap.  Others develop sudden, sharp pain as the result of a bone spur or cartilage tear or loose body floating around in the knee.

Anyway, I'm definitely not making light of your situation.  If you stop kneeling for a while and all your symptoms go away, consider yourself lucky!  If kneeling is a required aspect of your life, you may want to see an orthopedic surgeon specializing in knees who can give you a thorough check up and see what's going on in there.

The way your knee is put together is the probable culprit in this situation.  See, your kneecap is suspended above the other bones of the knee joint by some fluid and the coating of articular cartilage on all bony surfaces that meet each other.  That articular cartialge (kind of like the coating of gristle on that chicken wing joint where you pull it away from the bird) provides for a friction-less glide of the bones--so that they don't meet each other as the kneecap kind of floats above the rest of the knee joint.  However, when you kneel, the kneecap is pressed down into the other bones in the knee joint--especially if you put all your weight on your knees.  If there is any damage to the articular cartilage--as you would expect to find in someone at age 55--then it will hurt to put weight on these damaged areas or lesions.  Imagine trying to kneel with a scab on your knee--it's going to hurt a lot more than kneeling on intact skin.  So picture a kind of scab or damaged area on the back part of your kneecap...when you kneel, that injured area comes into contact with the rest of your knee.

Hope this information helps.  You may want to check on the general info link above, at the center of this page.  It gives you knee basics and helps you understand the anatomy.  Another good source is this page:  http://www.steadman-hawkins.com/knee_chondral/overview.asp  This talks about damaged areas and what can be done about them.  Usually, if the patient's quality of life is not seriously impacted, the doctor will recommend a series of physical therapy or very conservative steps.  That would probably involve not kneeling...sorry.  I'm not able to squat or kneel, yet I have 1/2 acre of gardens to keep up with.  Makes life challenging to say the least.

Good luck.

Heather

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