Why Your Knee Hurts When You’re Sitting

man experiencing knee pain

Have you ever felt knee discomfort when you’re sitting? You certainly aren’t the only one. We hear many complaints about this type of knee pain from our patients, who wonder if the pain is something that will pass quickly or the sign of a larger problem.

It can actually be a sign of both, depending on what causes the pain in the knee after sitting. Take note of your symptoms and positioning, and see what seems likely to be causing your issues.

Why Your Knee Aches When Sitting

There are four main reasons your knee hurts while you’re sitting down:

  • You are sitting on furniture that isn’t providing enough support.
  • You have an underlying health condition contributing to the pain.
  • You have been sitting for too long.
  • You are sitting in an uncomfortable or awkward position.

Luckily, most of these problems have relatively easy solutions.

Sitting Too Long

When you sit for more than six to eight hours each day, you may feel pain from muscles and joints that stiffen while you stay in the same position. You can prevent pain by standing up and stretching or walking around every half-hour or hour.

Sitting Position

The way you sit can also impact the way you feel. If your kneecap hurts when sitting, you may have your legs crossed or be sitting on your legs, which puts your kneecaps under pressure. Change how you sit to a more ergonomic position, keeping your feet on the floor and your back straight for good posture. Using a footrest can help keep your knees in the right place.


Ergonomics can also affect your pain level when it comes to furniture. A supportive chair can do wonders to decrease your knee pain, primarily when you work. You want a chair that is not too low, which can spark knee pain. Bending your knees for too long can also cause pain. Make sure your chair is positioned optimally at your desk, too, as sitting too far from your computer could also cause pain in your knees and back.

Underlying Health Condition

The most severe cause of knee pain is an underlying health condition that may also impact you in other ways. Arthritis is the most common cause of knee pain from sitting. Osteoarthritis can make your legs feel stiff. Treatment for this chronic joint inflammation includes:

  • Physical therapy.
  • Cortisone injections.
  • Anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen.

Patellofemoral pain, or runner’s knee, can also cause knee pain from joint overuse or a hip muscle imbalance. Rehabilitation exercises, applying ice after exercise and using a brace can help, though surgery may be required in severe cases.

In most cases, you can solve knee pain by making small adjustments to your daily routine. But if you suspect the knee pain is due to an underlying health issue, you can reach out to OrthoBethesda to learn more about our services and treatments for musculoskeletal ailments, including physical therapy. Fill out our new patient form online and set up an appointment to assess your knee issues.

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