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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

Knee Pain? Here’s Why It’s Not Your Knees But Your Quads

When we think or talk about the possible causes of knee pain, the most common causes that come to mind are brittle bones or disintegrated cartilage due to conditions like arthritis, knee injury, calf sprains, gout, etc However, quite often knee pain could be caused by some injury or problems related to your quads. In order to understand this, we must first understand the anatomy of the quads as it has clinical relevance to the problems of knee pain.

What are Quads on the Body?

Quadriceps femoris or most commonly known as quads is a group of muscles that are located or placed in the front part of your thighs.

The four main quadricep muscles include:

  1. Vastus Lateralis

  2. Vastus Medialis

  3. Vastus Intermedius

  4. Rectus Femoris


Image credit: Wikipedia

The vastus muscles originate from the femur or thigh bone and are partially covered by the rectus femoris, which is all attached to the kneecap or patella. The only difference is that, on the other end, the rectus further extends on to the hipbone. The quadriceps tendon attaches the quads to the patella.

The lateral femoral circumflex artery supplies the necessary oxygenated blood to the quad muscles. FUNCTIONS Quads play a major role in walking and other movements like running, jumping, bending, and squatting. This is because the primary function of the quads is to stabilize, bend, and straighten your knees.

How Your Quads Cause Knee Pain

The downside to the structure of the quads is that it is very prone to injuries, sprain, tears, and ruptures. As a result, such problems can directly affect your knees and cause knee pain.

This is because the quads muscles are attached to the kneecap or patella.

Thus, any sprain or tightness will cause misalignment of the patella which will directly affect the stability and movement of the knee joint and cause knee pain, pain behind the knee when straightening the leg.


Image credit: Pickpik

Such problems can be caused by various activities or lifestyle habits. They include:

  1. Over exercise or excessive activity

  2. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance

  3. Continuously sitting in one place or on your office desk

Another common condition that causes knee pain is when the quadriceps tendons become inflamed. This condition is known as quadriceps tendonitis and causes pain in the knees and just above the knee cap.

Self Diagnosis

  1. Lie flat on your stomach

  2. Gently try to bring your ankles to your bottoms as close as you can

  3. If you feel any significant pain or discomfort, you probably have tight or sprained quads


Image credit: Pikist


Treatment for injured quads includes a surgical or non-surgical approach.

  1. Cold compression

  2. Elevation

  3. Physical therapy

  4. Sound wave therapy

  5. Exercises

  6. Bracing

  7. Anti-inflammatory medications

  8. Surgical repair


In conclusion, there is a relationship between quads and knee pain among other causes or conditions. The sole reason behind this is because the quad muscles are attached to the knee cap. Thus, any problem in either structure will affect the functioning of the other.

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