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Will weak quadriceps cause knee pain?

Will weak quadriceps cause knee pain? When standing normally my knee caps appear to droop. When I pull up my quadriceps my knee caps no longer look droopy but it causes a painful and noisy 'clunk ' inside my knee. If I try to do any exercise such as running I end up with quite subtsantial knee pain. If you think my knee issues are caused by weak quadriceps would you expect an improvement purely from taining the quaricep muscles. My hamstrings, in comparison are very 'loose'. I am able to put my palms on the floor if I bend over. All thoughts gratefully received.

28 August 2019

Quadriceps and the knee

I can only give general advice, because it's impossible to know what is going on in your case without examining you thoroughly. Your quadriceps, which extend your knee and bend your hip, are attached to your lower leg just below the kneecap on the front by a tough connective tissue called a tendon. Your kneecap in turn is attached to this tendon. It is normal for the kneecap to be pulled slightly upwards when you tense your quadriceps – the clunk, however, is not normal. You may have a loose kneecap, making you prone to dislocation.

Causes and treatment of knee pain

There are dozens of causes of knee pain, but one of the most common causes of pain in the front of the knee is chondromalacia patellae, a condition of inflammation of the back of the kneecap where it passes over the front of the knee joint. In the short term, rest is often recommended for this condition. However, in the longer term, strengthening the quadriceps can reduce the risk of knee problems by building up the muscles that help support the joint.

Hypermobility and knee pain

If you can put your hands very easily on the floor when you bend, and especially if you have other extremely flexible joints, you may have a condition called hypermobility. People who have this have unusually loose ligaments and can get a lot of joint pain because of the ease with which they can overstretch their joints.

Next steps

I would suggest you see a physiotherapist for an assessment.

This can be arranged through the NHS via your GP, or if you're prepared to pay for treatment, you can choose to go direct to a private practitioner. If you take this option make sure they're a fully qualified member of a recognised professional body, such as the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP).

Alternatively, if you have health cover with AXA Health, you can speak to a qualified physiotherapist for help with any musculoskeletal problems as soon as symptoms occur, and without the need for a GP referral, through our Working Body service.

You can find lots more useful information on conditions affecting your muscles, bones and joints and how to manage and treat your symptoms in our musculoskeletal centre.

Or if you have a specific question or concern about this or any aspect of your or your family’s health, you can always come back to us via our Ask the Expert service, available around the clock, 365 days a year, whenever or wherever you need us.

Further reading and resources

Musculoskeletal centre - AXA Health

What’s the difference between physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors? - AXA Health

Find a physiotherapist - Chartered Society for Physiotherapy.

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