Why Your Knee Hurts When Sitting

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Why Your Knee Hurts When Sitting

You may be sitting somewhere and feel some discomfort in your knee. What is the reason behind this? There’s no need to feel alone if this sounds like you. The issue may not even be with your knees. The knee pain that you experience after sitting for long periods can actually be your body’s natural response to being in an unnatural situation. 

A position that is uncomfortable can result in muscle soreness, which makes you more susceptible to injury. In addition, having an underlying medical condition, such as arthritis, increases sensitivity if a person cannot stand or sit as comfortably.  There may be times when you have to sit for extended periods during your workday. Sitting every day might cause knee pain if you tend to suffer from it. 

As a general rule, the most common cause of knee pain is bad posture while sitting. When your legs are crossed or folded under your body when you curl up, it can put a strain on your knees.  Chondromalacia patellae or osteoarthritis can cause knee pain in rare cases.

After thirty years of treating knee problems as a chiropractor, I can explain why you might find this article helpful if you take the time to read it.  I will assist you in finding the best solution to reduce knee pain while sitting at work or at home, based on my hands-on experience by providing simple advice on how to prevent discomfort.

The consequences of prolonged sitting include knee pain as well, albeit less severe. Your muscles, ligaments, and tendons become tight if you sit for extended periods of time. As a result, there is pain

Movement with Knee Pain

Do you know how you feel a little stiff after sitting for too long? Well, imagine being in that position for hours. That’s what happens to your knees when they’re constantly flexed and bent from sitting all day. Sitting the wrong way can make it hard on them—and even lead to pain! The good news is, there are measures you can take to relieve the discomfort of knee pain without making significant changes or putting enjoyable activities on hold. 

Putting your job on hold and putting aside enjoyable activities are not the only ways to relieve discomfort; there is another that doesn’t take a lot of hard work. As you go through your day, it is important to be aware of how active you have been.

When sitting all day, it’s a good idea to get up from your desk and stretch. Even for just 20 minutes every hour! Moving around keeps our muscles relaxed which can help avoid icky things like knee pain or even some serious health issues in the future.

Dr Joan Vernikos, a NASA scientist advises that everyone should get up and stretch every 20 minutes to avoid injury associated with sitting for long periods of time, which I believe is often the case with mechanical knee problems.

Get Your Posture Right

If you cross your legs or curl up with your legs folded beneath you when sitting, it might seem to be comfortable at first. However, after a few minutes though, the pain of a bad knee position can become overwhelming! It’s important for us all to take care of our bodies and know what positions are best to keep from hurting ourselves in the long run.

When you are sitting in a way that is uncomfortable and causes pain, the best thing to do is change your position. You can control where you sit by getting your chair set up properly.

I’m going to show you how it’s done:

Setting Your Chair Properly

In addition to choosing a comfortable chair, you should stretch regularly and adjust your posture. When it comes to comfortably avoiding knee pain, it’s important to get the height of the chair just right, to make sure the armrests are positioned at the appropriate distance from your desk, and to make sure the seat pan is shaped and angled appropriately.

  • Seat Height. Adjust the seat height as high as possible to allow your feet to rest comfortably on the floor. Comfort is largely determined by your ability to adjust the height of your seat.  It’s recommended to replace your gas shock cylinder if it is not high enough to accommodate your height. 
  • Seat Depth. Seats should be big enough so that you can rest comfortably on them. Ideally, you should sit with your center of gravity resting against the chair back, and your knees spaced two or three fingers apart. 
  • Tilt your seat. Try having your hips over your knees at all times. As you sit like this, you shift your weight away from your spine and towards your core. No problem if the chair cannot be tilted forward – just get a wedge cushion. 
  • Lumbar Support. In addition to being necessary, lumbar support should also be comfortable.  It is also possible to add a small cushion or roll of a towel to your chair if it does not have this feature.

What Should You Do If the Chair Is Uncomfortable?

woman sitting with knee pain

The wrong office chair can cause your knees to hurt all day. You want to keep your knees from getting painful, so make sure your seating is really supportive and that your lower back isn’t strained.  Ergonomic wedge cushions can provide extra support and aid in reducing discomfort in certain areas.

A Guide to Choosing the Right Wedge Cushion for Knee Pain

thespinery.com latex seat posture cushion

Sitting on a wedge will help you align your torso and knees more effectively. As well as pulling your spine inward and tilting your pelvis forward, cushions also provide comfort. The benefits of upright sitting include decreased spinal stress, improved stability, and reduced hip and knee pain.

Seat angles between 8 and 13 degrees are recommended for maximum comfort. Possibly, you should sit for just a short period of time the first time you’re seated in this manner. Gradually increasing the duration of your seat sessions as your back muscles strengthen will give you the best results.

Your seat wedge should have the following features:

  • There must be two layers of foam. Cushions for seats typically have two layers of supportive and pressure-relieving materials because they can relieve pressure and provide support at the same time.*
  • Form. During sitting, wedge cushions offer ergonomic contours designed to promote good posture.*
  • Slope. There is an 8-13 degree slope.*
  • The foundation. Foam foundation with high density (plus 96 kg/m3).*
  • Top. The comfort layer is at the top (between 56 and 68 kg/m3).*
  • Type of foam. Foams made from Natural Latex are the ultimate choice for comfort, resilience, and alignment.*
  • Cover. Non-slip and 4D.*
  • I don’t use memory foam.  I don’t recommend them. There’s not much springiness (resilience) to memory foam; it tends to easily bottom out;  may trap heat; and can be made of toxic materials, unlike natural latex, which comes from tree sap.*

*This is my opinion as a chiropractor and seat designer.

Pain in the Knees While Sitting From Medical Conditions

doctor treating patient with knee pain

The knee pain that some individuals experience may be related to a medical condition such as osteoarthritisrheumatoid arthritis or chondromalacia patellae. You will need to describe your symptoms to your doctor and undergo a physical exam if this is the case. 

A doctor may order more tests for things like blood work and X-rays if they find out that there might be some other type of inflammation going on, including arthritis, which can cause joint pain if it gets really bad. 

Chondromalacia Patellae

woman with Chondromalacia patellae

As the name suggests, chondromalacia is the softening of cartilage beneath your kneecap. With age or prolonged sitting on hard surfaces, this cartilage can break down, causing pain when bending and straightening one’s knees at full extension. 

In order to diagnose a person experiencing these symptoms, it is necessary to consider less than ideal habits regarding posture (crosslegged sitting), living spaces (a couch with no support), and even sleeping positions. However, not all three factors must be present before a diagnosis will be made.

Chondromalacia manifests as:

  • The knees ache. 
  • Kneecap discomfort is concentrated behind, below, and around it.
  • A grind-like feeling when flexing your knees. 
  • Inability to ascend or descend stairs comfortably
  • Squats and knee bends, or even running downhill
  • Standing after sitting

Chondromalacia can be caused by some factors, such as:

  • Adolescents and women are more likely to suffer from chondromalacia than other demographics
  • The muscles that surround the injured area are weak or tight
  • Malposition of the knee cap  
  • An injury to the kneecap
  • Having flat feet
  • Excessive cycling or running
  • Exercising regularly
  • The issue of obesity

Visit your doctor if you are suffering from knee pain after sitting for an extended period of time. A medical professional can properly diagnose your condition and recommend treatment.

Your doctor will ask you to explain your symptoms, perform a physical exam based on these findings and may order more tests. You may need blood tests, x-rays, or an MRI to rule out other forms of inflammation, including arthritis. If the diagnosis is confirmed by an MRI then surgery can provide relief if it’s serious enough!

The Solution: Chondromalacia Treatment

  • In most cases of chondromalacia, a conservative approach can be followed. If you exercise regularly, your physician will suggest that you take a break. 
  • Alignment support, such as tape or braces, can help.
  • Your therapist may also suggest exercises. Exercises like these promote kneecap strength.
  • Some symptoms are resistant to conservative treatments. Alternatively, arthroscopic surgery may be a viable option if self-care doesn’t provide relief.

Arthritis of the Knee

chair causing knee pain

When you sit down, knee pain can also be brought on by osteoarthritis. An effect of joint degeneration is the breakdown of the cartilage and bone surrounding the affected joints. Your entire joint structure may be affected by osteoarthritis because the connective tissue can weaken and the synovium may become inflamed. Osteoarthritis typically develops slowly and progresses over time.

The Symptoms of Knees Osteoarthritis Include the Following:

  • Pain during or following an activity
  • After inactivity or upon waking, stiffness may occur
  • A feeling of tenderness
  • Motion is restricted
  • Sounds or sensations of grating, popping or cracking
  • Inflammation may cause swelling, warmth, redness, and other symptoms

Groups With a Higher Risk of Knee Osteoarthritis:

  • Diabetic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Females
  • Senior citizens
  • Overused or injured knees
  • Osteoarthritis runs in the family
  • Subluxations or misalignments of the knees
  • Type 2 diabetics

Diagnosing Osteoarthritis of the Knee

If you have pain and stiffness in your joints, it is possible that arthritis has set in. Your doctor will use a description of your symptoms and physical exam to evaluate the condition before they can tell if an MRI should be conducted.

Treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis

  • There are many treatment anti-inflammatory options available for osteoarthritis to manage the pain and swelling of the condition as well as slowing its progression.
  • Your chiropractor or physical therapist may conservatively increase your fitness regime. Strengthening your knee joints with a physical therapy program is a wise investment. 
  • Weight loss can relieve the knees of some pressure as well. 


The truth is that sitting for long periods of time can be a bad habit. It’s not just your knees that are at risk, it might also be the health of your back or neck. If you’re worried about how to find relief from this discomfort and pain, don’t worry!

I have some great resources on my blog with helpful information about ergonomics and how to keep yourself comfortable while working in an office space. For the most useful guidance on ergonomic information visit our blog now!



**As a service to our readers, Axial Chairs provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of the last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

Medical Disclaimer: This website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Product Disclaimer: The seat cushion is designed by a chiropractor, but results may vary and are not guaranteed. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any medical condition.

Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC


My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.


Dr Lawrence Woods

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort. With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sleep for living a happy and healthy life. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

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