Quadriceps tendonitis is the most frequent culprit causing muscle pain above the knee. Quadriceps tendonitis is the inflammation of the quadriceps muscle or tendon. It is often due to overuse or structural issues with the knee. Athletes, individuals with excess weight, and arthritis patients may also have a higher risk of aggravating the quadriceps muscle or tendon.
The muscle pain above the knee may also be caused by a quadriceps or tendon strain. A strain pulls the muscle or tendon past it’s normal limits. It results in tearing or stretching of the muscle, causing pain. If the tear or stretching has happened at the lower part of the quadriceps, you may feel pain above the knee.
If the muscle pain above the knee is located also toward the outside of the knee, it may have to do with your iliotibial (IT) band. This tissue may also become inflamed from repetitive use or overuse. Again, it results in pain and possibly swelling or tenderness near the knee joint.