Stiff knee is most common complaint seen in older as well as young age group. So, what’s stiff knee? A stiff knee is when you cannot move your knee joint freely or there is restricted joint mobility in knee joint as well as ankle and hip joint. Knee stiffness can be due to some underlying cause.  Knee stiffness can occur due to multiple reason such as poor flexibility, muscular imbalance, arthritis. 

Most common causes of knee stiffness are;

Arthritis (most common cause)

Injuries such as meniscal tear, ligament tear

Arthrofibrosis 

Post traumatic stiffness 

Post-operative stiffness 

Muscle imbalance 

Poor flexibility in muscles 

Knee stiffness can be one of the symptoms of any of these conditions. It may or may not be associated with joint pain, swelling, redness, and rise in temperature, crepitation, and restricted range of motion of knee joint.

Other symptoms may be:

Fever 

Pain and swelling of other joints of body 

Muscular weakness 

How to diagnose a stiff knee

If you are suffering from stiffness in your knee joint, you should consult a doctor to rule out the underlying cause. A doctor will assess your knee joint by checking range of motion, muscle strength, mobility of ankle and hip joint, gait, and any deformity. Doctor may also ask you for an x-ray or MRI and few blood test such as RA factor, anti CCP test to rule out any arthritis. 

How to treat knee stiffness 

Your knee stiffness can only be treated once a cause of stiffness is rule out. Earlier you see a doctor and get a diagnoses the road of recovery becomes easier. 

With most of the cases it is treatable and can be managed conservatively by physiotherapy treatment such as stretching and strengthening exercises, manual therapy to increase range of motion of knee joint and decrease inflammation using some modalities such as Ultrasound therapy, TENS, matrix therapy and some may require medical attention depending upon the condition e.g. PRP injections, hyaluronic injections in cases of moderate to severe grade of arthritis, and some cases may even require knee replacement.   

Nutrition and weight loss may also play an important role in reducing knee stiffness. E.g. conditions like gout, modifications in diet can help in reduction of uric acid. 

Home remedies to help reduce knee stiffness 

Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen

Use of ice pack 

Joint mobility exercise such stretching exercises and gentle movements of knee, ankle and hip joint. 

Knee braces 

Anjum Fatima (SR. Physiotherapist)

Orthocure clinics, Gurgaon.