What Are the Symptoms of Knee Nerve Damage?

Knee pain may be a sign of nerve damage.
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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 18 July 2014
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The main symptom of knee nerve damage often includes varying degrees of pain. The pain is often intermittent and may be sharp, or manifest as a dull and throbbing ache. Numbness and tingling in the local area may also be present with this condition. Inability to move the joint freely is another symptom associated with nerve damage.

When a person suffers some type of injury or trauma to the the knee, the local nerves may become pinched or squeezed very easily. In some cases, knee nerve damage is not easily recognized by the individual, because the damage to the surrounding nerves may not be immediate. Although not very common, damage to the nerves of the knee may occur gradually over time.

Anther major sign of knee nerve damage is numbness or a lack of sensitivity. Numbness may be localized or radiate to the upper or lower leg. Some people also describe the discomfort as a prickly pins and needles sensation. Along with the feeling of numbness, skin may become discolored. A bluish tinge surrounding the knee may indicate nerve damage, although the condition does not always cause changes in skin color.


Injury to the soft tissue of the knee does not necessarily mean nerve damage has occurred. Ligaments or tendons may have been torn, yet surrounding nerves may be left undamaged. Although a physician may recommend magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine if there are tears of tendons or ligaments, nerve damage will not show up on this imaging. Other tests can detect knee nerve damage.

The patient's physician may recommend diagnostic tests if symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, otherwise known as nerve damage, are present. Besides persistent pain and numbness, the patient with nerve damage to the knee may also experience weakness and immobility. This weakness may involve the knee or the entire leg. In some cases of knee nerve damage, the leg may buckle under and the patient may feel unsteady or lose his balance.

Other symptoms of damaged nerves in the knee may be local skin temperature fluctuations. The patient's knee may feel warm to the touch, or in some cases colder than usual. It's also not uncommon for nerve damage to produce a burning sensation in the knee or leg. A test known as an electromyography (EMG) can determine if symptoms are related to knee nerve damage.


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Post 3

@SarahGen-- Absolutely, knee nerve damage can lead to all of these.

Weakening of muscles is highly likely when the femoral nerve is damaged. This is a major nerve in the leg. When it's damaged, it won't interact with muscles as it should and the muscles in turn stop working. When muscles are not used, they weaken and this may give legs a thinner appearance. For example, the Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a condition where muscles stop working and become weak due to nerve damage.

But there is no way you can diagnose the cause of your symptoms on your own. Weak muscles can cause knee pain and swelling too. It doesn't have to be nerve damage. Getting an MRI and an evaluation by a doctor is the best way to figure out the cause.

Post 2

Can nerve problems in the knee cause slight swelling? And can it lead to weakening and thinning of muscles in the legs and the feet?

Post 1

I think nerve damage causes the same symptoms regardless of where in the body it occurs. Years ago, I had a pinched nerve in my back. It caused back pain, stiffness, and tingling and numbness that radiated to my leg. I had surgery at that time and it resolved.

Now, I have a pinched nerve in my knee. I recognized the symptoms right away, because they are the same symptoms I experienced in my back. The only difference is that the pain and stiffness is in my knee. And numbness and tingling radiates to my lower leg.

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