Updated on 2017-09-02 – In this post, we are going to cover some of the reasons why you may be experiencing pain in back of the knee and we will also cover some of the things that you can do to treat it. As you read through each section, you will be able to decide whether the cause sounds like your problem or not and then you’ll be able to act accordingly.
What Can Cause Pain In Back Of The Knee?
There could be a lot of reasons why you have pain in back of the knee, however here are the top 5 most common reasons:
- Bakers Cyst – Also called “Popliteal Cysts”, this one is at the top of our list for most common causes of pain behind the knee. It is a medical condition whereby popliteal bursas, which are found on the back of the knee, become inflamed. The inflammation causes painful swelling and tightness.
- Meniscus Tear – This is a very common knee injury which consists of tearing in the back of the cartilage lining the joint. Pain behind the knee is one of the most common symptoms, however there is also instability, locking & swelling of the knee. Because of the locking problems, some people may have trouble straightening their knees.
- PCL Injury – This is where the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) is torn or overstretched somehow. This one can be extremely unpleasant and can become aggravated quickly depending on the physical activities you are doing. Not only can it cause pain behind the knee, it can also cause some bruising & swelling along with it. As well as decreased movement in the knee.
- Arthritis of the knee joint – Osteoarthritis, which is also called the “Wear & Tear Arthritis” can be one of the leading causes for your pain behind the knee, or anywhere surrounding the knee in fact. Osteoarthritis is essentially where the cartilage begins to wear down to the point where you have bone on bone action in your knee, causing swelling in the joint. Other common symptoms include a grinding feeling, reduced leg movement and morning stiffness.
- Hamstring Tear – Not as common as the others ones we mentioned, however it is a definite cause for pain behind the knee, whether it’s a slight tear and a more serious one. The general symptom for this one is an “achy” pain behind the knee.
Treatments For Pain In Back Of The Knee
Here are a few things that you can do to help:
- P.R.I.C.E – Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate. This combo of activities reduces pain and swelling, protects against further injury and speeds up the recovery process. Useful for: Meniscus Tear, Hamstring Tear, Ligament Injury
- Strengthening Exercises – There are several strengthening exercises that you can engage in to help you overcome pain behind the knee. These exercises improve how the knee functions and also help prevent what is causing knee pain. Refer to our post “Why Strengthen The Muscles Around The Knee?” for details on these exercises. Useful for: Popliteal Cysts/Bakers Cyst, Meniscus Tear, Osteoarthritis, Hamstring Tear, Ligament Injury
- Leg Stretches – There are simple tests you can do to determine if indeed your muscles are tight. If your knee injury is as a result of tight muscles, leg stretches can reduce the tension on your join. Useful for a wide range of knee related issues.
- Medications – There are several medications that you can use to treat your knee pain. One of them is Tylenol; an effective drug that reduces both the swelling and pain in the bones and joints. Useful for a wide range of knee related issues.
- Ice – Placing ice on the knee where you are experiencing pain reduces the blood flow to the area hence reducing the associated pain and swelling. Useful for: Popliteal Cysts/Bakers Cyst, Osteoarthritis, and a wide range of other knee related issues.
- Heat– Applying heat is also a great natural knee joint pain treatment option for persistent knee problems. Useful for: Osteoarthritis
- Knee Sleeves/Braces – Wearing a knee sleeve or knee brace is also a great way of providing support to the knee where you are experiencing pain. These products (especially those that provide compression) reduce pain and inflammation, protect the knee joint against injury and promote quick recovery. Useful for: Meniscus Tear, Osteoarthritis, Ligament Injury, and a wide range of other knee related issues.
- Acupuncture – When medication is not your preferred way of treating pain problems, acupuncture can be an effective way of providing pain relief. It will help you if it is carried out by a professional acupuncturist. Useful for: Osteoarthritis
- Surgery – Surgery may be an alternative (or even an eventuality) if the ligaments, tendons and muscles are damaged. Useful for: Popliteal Cysts/Bakers Cyst, Meniscus Tear, Ligament Injuries & other.
If you are an avid runner, you may also want to check out the following video, where they tackle the issue of running and pain in back of the knee:
We hope that this article was able to help you identify why you are having pain in back of the knee and get you on the road to recovery soon.
Disclaimer – I am not a doctor and I am not qualified to provide medical advice. This was posted for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Read full disclaimer.
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Updated on 2017-09-02 – I included a video that I came across that deals with runners who have pain behind the knee. I hope that you find it useful.