Does your knee feel tight and stiff? 4 possible causes

Tightness and stiffness in the knees are common to experience. The knees are responsible for carrying, at minimum, the weight of your body. They help you maneuver your body during most types of daily movements and activities. The strain you place on your knees daily can cause injuries and other conditions to develop. These injuries and conditions can impair knee movement.

Have you recently noticed tightness and stiffness in your knee, or have you had these sensations for extended periods? Treatment is always a good idea. Neglecting to start professional treatment often results in pain. This pain may continue or worsen over time. Don’t become 1 out of every 4 adults who suffer from chronic knee pain. Improve your chances of experiencing relief from your discomfort by taking steps toward professional treatment, like physical therapy. 

Common causes of tight and stiff knees

The most common diagnoses for people who experience tightness and stiffness in their knees include:

  • Imbalances in the muscles — The muscles all must work together for the body to perform functions efficiently. When one of these muscles is too weak or becomes injured, like during a car accident, it has a trickle-down effect on the other components around it. Muscle imbalances around the knee can strain the knee. This strain often results in tightness and stiffness in the muscles. It can affect ligaments, tendons and joints, too.
  • Strains or sprains — Another cause of tightness and stiffness in the knee is strains and sprains. When you exercise the knees too much or perform repetitive physical activities, the muscles and ligaments in the knee can become strained or sprained.
  • Osteoarthritis in the knees — Arthritis is a common condition affecting the joints of people worldwide. Osteoarthritis, a common type of arthritis, causes the cartilage around the knee joint to deteriorate. Eventually, the bones in the joints can grind against each other, and pain, tightness and stiffness are usually a result.
  • Cysts around the knee — The formation of cysts, which are fluid-filled pockets under the skin, can lead to tightness and stiffness in the knee. Cysts around or behind the knee can cause imbalances in muscles, and push against tendons, ligaments and even joints. Cysts in the knee have the potential to cause a limited range of motion and reduce mobility. 

Whatever the source of your knee discomfort may be, seeking treatment from a physical therapist is a great noninvasive option. 

What are common treatments for tightness and stiffness in the knee?

There are a few different treatments that can be used for someone with tightness and stiffness in their knee, including:

  • Physical therapy — Physical therapy is one common treatment option for knee discomfort. It can be effective for those looking to improve their pain levels, increase their mobility, and reduce tightness and stiffness. A physical therapist can determine the cause of your tightness and then create a specialized treatment plan to address your symptoms. From there, they’ll work with you to gently and gradually improve the state of your condition. PT can also be effective at reducing future occurrences of knee discomfort.
  • Daily stretching — Another way to treat tightness and stiffness in the knee is by performing daily stretches. Stretching can be a great way to improve flexibility and gradually increase the range of motion. It’s also effective because it promotes blood flow to an area, which can promote healing.
  • Lifestyle changes and adjustments — It’s also possible for someone with knee discomfort to benefit from changing or adjusting their lifestyle. For instance, adding more physical activity into your daily routine and wearing supportive footwear should in turn provide benefits to your knee.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications — Taking anti-inflammatory medications, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may help temporarily alleviate discomfort and reduce inflammation around the knee.

Back in Motion can treat your knee with physical therapy

Our team of physical therapy professionals at Back in Motion Physical Therapy can identify the source of your knee discomfort. We’ll use a variety of treatments and techniques to treat your knee, including manual therapy, strength training and stability exercises. 

If you have any questions or concerns about how else we can improve the condition of your knee, we encourage you to reach out to us. We can talk you through the treatment process and the additional specialty programs we offer. 
Start your treatment with us as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule your initial appointment.

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