Various conditions, such as bursitis and arthritis, can cause or exacerbate knee pain when kneeling.
This article examines various causes and conditions that may cause knee pain when kneeling. It describes their symptoms, causes, treatments, diagnosis, and when to see a doctor and answers some frequently asked questions.
Kneeling aggravates knee pain because of increased mechanical compression in the knee joint — which means the kneecap pushes forcefully against the thigh bone.
The compression force depends on various factors, such as how much a person weighs or whether they kneel on one knee more often than the other.
Kneeling knee pain may also result from other conditions related to the knee itself.
Bursae are sacs of fluid that cushion the joints. Bursitis occurs due to extra fluid buildup and inflammation. It can cause swelling, pressure, and discomfort in the knee.
The prepatellar bursa sits on top of the patella, or knee cap. Bursitis can occur in this location due to repeated pressure on the knee, such as kneeling for a long time, overuse, or injury.
It can also result from the following:
- complications from arthritis
- diabetes and other metabolic conditions
- occupation or hobbies involving repetitive movements
Knee bursitis may improve without treatments once a person stops performing the action or movement causing it.
Other methods also include:
- resting the knee to avoid overuse
- applying an ice pack or cold compress to help reduce the swelling
- applying heat, such as a heating pad or warm bath
- using over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as acetaminophen
- cushioning and supporting the knee, especially while sleeping
Further measures may also include:
- physical therapy
- antibiotics if an infection is a cause
- assistive devices to alleviate any stress ohen the joint
- corticosteroid injections
- in rare cases, surgery to drain a bursa
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the kneeis a common cause of knee pain. In OA, structural changes to the joints over time damage the cartilage. According to Versus Arthritis, OA of the knee can affect anyone at any age but is more widespread in females aged 50 years and older.
As OA of the knee progresses, joint inflammation and stiffness can cause frequent pain when performing the following activities:
There is no treatment to reverse OA, but some methods to relieve pain include:
- medication, such as pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), and cortisone injections
- physical therapy
- assistive devices
- lifestyle modifications
Patellar tendonitis — also known as jumper’s knee — occurs when the tendons connecting the kneecap to the shinbone become inflamed and result in pain.
Symptoms may include pain and swelling when bending or straightening knees due to repetitive motion.
The main symptom is knee pain that worsens:
- after sitting down for a long time
- when getting out of a chair
- when going up and down stairs
- when kneeling or squatting
The best way to treat a jumper’s knee is to stop any activity causing the pain until the injury is healed. Other treatments may include:
- knee elevation
- ice packs
- stretching and strengthening
Osgood-Schlatter disease causes knee pain due to inflammation of the area just below the knee, where the kneecap tendon attaches to the shinbone.
Repetitive movements from sports, such as running, soccer, and gymnastics, and kneeling often exacerbate this condition.
Treatments and management include:
- pain-relieving drugs
- checking vitamin D levels and taking supplements if necessary
- activity modifications
Patellofemoral pain syndrome, or runner’s knee, is a common knee condition that causes pain at the front of the knee around the patellofemoral joint — between the kneecap and the thigh bone (femur).
The pain and stiffness this condition causes can make it difficult to:
- climb stairs
- kneel down
- perform other daily activities
Patellofemoral pain syndrome usually responds well to exercise and lifestyle changes.
Other methods include:
- rest, ice, compression, and elevation method (RICE)
- physical therapy
- some surgical procedures
Learn more about the symptoms and treatments of patellofemoral arthritis.
A person should consult a doctor if they experience any of the following:
- a new significant trauma within the last 7 days
- the knee is misshapen or immediately swollen following a recent injury
- inability to put weight on the leg
- the knee becomes immediately swollen
- knee locks or gives way
- knee is tender
A doctor will often be able to diagnose a knee problem from the symptoms, along with a physical examination.
They may also order tests or a scan to help confirm a diagnosis, including:
Below are some frequently asked questions.
How do you get rid of knee pain from kneeling?
The following may help treat knee pain from kneeling:
- modifying kneeling position
- performing knee strengthening exercises
- seeking medical help if pain results from a condition affecting the knee
What does bursitis in the knee feel like?
Knee bursitis feels like a dull ache. It can cause the surrounding skin to be tender, warmer, and swollen. It may also cause increased pain intensity with repetitive movement or pressure.
How long does it take for knee bursitis to heal?
People can usually treat knee bursitis at home, and the pain should go away within a few weeks.
Knee pain when kneeling can result from conditions such as bursitis and arthritis. The pressure resulting from kneeling or repeated movement can cause pain in the kneecap.
People can treat any condition causing knee pain at home with NSAIDs, stretches and strengthening exercises, and physical therapy. Sometimes, resting and elevating the knee will also be sufficient.
A person should discuss any knee concerns with a doctor who can help diagnose the cause of knee pain.