Why Am I Getting Pain At The Back Of My Knee
Published on: 4th February 2020
When it comes to knee pain, we often tend to think first of the front and sides. But pain that comes from the back of the knee is probably every bit as common.
It would be helpful if there was a single likely reason for this! But in fact the causes of back-of-knee pain can be very diverse. You could experience it as a sudden pain or a gradual ache. There may be swelling and inflammation or none at all. You might find it difficult to fully extend your leg.
In other words we need to do some narrowing down to find out whats going on. One useful starting point is to think in terms of problems inside or outside the knee joint: in medical-speak, intra- or extra-articular causes. Lets have a look at the most common ones.
Fluid In The Knee Joint
A knee injury often results in inflammation with fluid in the knee. When fluid is taking up space in the joint, you may feel stiffness or have difficulty with knee movements like bending. The increased pressure in the joint can also trigger pain receptors and cause discomfort. Knee bending usually becomes painless once the fluid goes away, if there is no permanent damage from the fall.
A direct blow to your kneecap from a fall can cause a fracture. This injury usually results in significant inflammation at the front of the knee and painful bending and straightening. A kneecap dislocation is dramatic and occurs when the kneecap is forced out of its groove. All knee movement is difficult when this occurs. A cartilage injury is usually less obvious than a fracture or dislocation. Cartilage — the smooth tissue that lines your joints — can get torn or scraped as a result of trauma. Pieces of cartilage may break off and move around your knee joint, causing pain with bending.
Each knee has a pair of menisci that are located between the bones of the knee joint. Menisci provide joint stability and absorb shock with impact activities. An injury causing the knee to bend and twist at the same time can lead to meniscal tears. This often results in pain with knee bending and joint clicking or locking. Bending and straightening the knee compresses different areas of the joint, which can pinch the menisci and cause pain.
What You Can Do For Your Leg Muscles:
- Try exercises designed to support healthy movement in your knees.
- Work on flexibility in your legs with leg stretches.
- Do stretches and yoga poses a few times per week that help to relieve tight hamstrings.
- Do hip abduction exercises to promote good movement patterns and stability.
- Consider regular sessions with a massage therapist.
- Talk to a physical therapist for a treatment plan that takes into account your specific needs.
You May Like: Does Carpal Tunnel Cause Shoulder Pain
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider
Talk to your provider if youre experiencing symptoms like pain or swelling that get worse after a few days or if you cant move your knee like you usually can.
When should I go to the ER?
Go to the emergency room if you notice any of the following:
- Extreme pain.
- Swelling thats getting worse.
- You cant move your knee at all.
Why Does Bending Cause Knee Pain
Knee pain when bending can be split into two types:
Weight-Bearing:when there is weight going through the knee as you bend it such as when you squat down, go up and down stairs and as you sit down in a chair
Non Weight-Bearing:when there is no weight going through the knee when you bend it e.g. when sitting in a chair and moving the knee or standing but with the leg lifted off the floor as you bend it
Knee pain when bending tends to be worse when there is weight going through the knee as you bend it due to the compression and pressure on the different structures in the knee.
This should come as no surprise when we realise how large the forces going through different parts of the knee.
For example, when bending the knee to climb stairs, a force approximately three times body weight goes through the knee.
When squatting down the force is even greater at seven times body weight and when jumping, a huge force ten times body weight goes through part of the knee.
You May Like: Stiffness In Knees After Sitting
You May Like: Women’s Cold Shoulder Tops
Pain On The Inside Of The Knee
Pain localized on the inside of the knee is quite common. It can be constant or intermittent. Often it occurs at or slightly below the joint line. Common causes of medial knee pain include osteoarthritis, medial meniscus injury, and inflammation of the low leg tendons. The latter is called pes anserine bursitis.
Physical Therapy For Knee Pain Relief
With a combination of treatments, including therapeutic exercises, stability training and manual therapies, the expert therapists at Rehab Access can help you overcome knee injuries to return to a healthy and active lifestyle. We believe in individualized treatment plans that are custom-designed for each patient based on their current state of health and treatment goals.
To learn more and schedule your initial appointment, contact us today.
Recommended Reading: Lump Near Shoulder Blade On Back
Whats Behind The Knee
The back of the knee has complicated anatomy.
As well as the knee joint sitting in the middle, the thigh and calf muscles pass through this area. Firstly, the large hamstring muscles start from the pelvis and pass across the knee to attach to the lower leg bones. In addition, the large calf muscles begin at the bottom part of the thigh and cross the knee to form the large Achilles tendon.
Finally, vital nerves and blood vessels cross the back of the knee to supply the lower leg and foot.
Why You Can’t Bend Your Knee Without Pain
Mobility is everything. Our world understands this concept now more than ever. When you cannot go where you want to go when you want to go, frustration sets in. When you can’t bend your knee without pain, you quickly find yourself limited.
You may wonder, why can’t you bend your knee without pain? Knee pain results from one of three problems. A sudden injury, an overuse injury, or disease can cause knee pain when bending.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about what to do when you can’t bend your knee without pain.
You May Like: Knee Pads And Elbow Pads For Roller Skating
What Is Pain Behind The Knee
Since the knee is the largest and most complex joint in the body, it makes sense that it might hurt sometimes. Although knee pain is a common complaint, it is less common behind the knee.
Pain in the back of the knee is called posterior knee pain, and it can have a variety of causes. Occasionally, posterior knee pain is “referred” from the front of the knee or the spine.
Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury
The posterior cruciate ligament is the ACLs partner. Its another band of tissue that connects your thighbone to your shinbone and supports your knee. However, the PCL isnt as likely to get injured as the ACL.
You can injure the PCL if you take a hard blow to the front of your knee, such as in a car accident. Sometimes injuries occur from twisting the knee or missing a step while walking.
Stretching the ligament too far causes a strain. With enough pressure, the ligament can tear into two parts.
Along with pain, a PCL injury causes:
- swelling of the knee
- trouble walking
- weakness of the knee
Rest, ice, and elevation can help a PCL injury heal faster. You might need surgery if youve injured more than one ligament in your knee, have symptoms of instability, or you also have cartilage damage.
Recommended Reading: Exercises For Pinched Nerve In Shoulder
Common Causes Of Swelling After A Severe Knee Injury Include:
Over 70% of athletes with a swollen knee who felt a pop while running and pivoting will have an ACL tear or a patella dislocation. Patella dislocations are more common than you think. All of you dread an ACL tear. But most of you are surprised when we see you in the office and tell you that your kneecap dislocated. Most dislocated kneecaps will reduce spontaneously on the field. That means that the kneecap will go back into place on its own.
Patellar dislocations may hurt just as much as an ACL tear. Because patella dislocations are such a common sports injury we wrote this post to go into far more detail about them.
With any of the above issues, most of you will find it very difficult to walk without severe knee pain. Crutches, icing, and elevation are beneficial in these cases. These knee joint injuries need to be evaluated for an X-ray. Fractures are rare, but they do occur. Very few knee injuries will require a brace unless you want to use it for comfort. The most important reason for seeing a sports medicine physician after an injury that causes swelling is to look for these most common severe injuries.
Many of these severe knee joint injuries should be evaluated sooner rather than later. The initial treatment will be a reliable examination to arrive at a diagnosis, which will be followed with an MRI to confirm the diagnosis. Depending on what we think you injured, we may consider rest, physical therapy, or surgery.
My Knee Hurts When I Bend It And Straighten It
Your knees bend countless times throughout the day. Running up the stairs, down the hall after kids, and getting into the car. You straighten the knee as you walk, descend stairs or get into and out of the car. Bending and straightening the knee are necessary for daily activities. Knee pain with bending or straightening may be a mild, transient irritation or may indicate a more significant problem. Learn more below and avoid further injury and dysfunction.
What Causes Pfp Syndrome
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is an overuse disorder. These happen when someone does the same movements that stress the knee over and over again.
In PFP syndrome, repeated bending and straightening the knee stresses the kneecap. It’s most common in athletes.
Some people with PFP syndrome have a kneecap that is out of line with the thighbone . The kneecap can get out of line, or wiggle as it moves along the thighbone, because of muscle weakness, trauma, or another problem. If this happens, the kneecap doesn’t glide smoothly over the thighbone when the knee bends and straightens. The kneecap gets injured and this causes the pain of PFP syndrome.
How A Knee Works
To understand the potential problems with your knee and why it hurts when you bend it, you need to understand the joint itself. Biologists refer to the knee joint as a hinge joint. This means it can both bend and straighten.
Here are the main parts of your knee and the ways they work together when you bend your knee:
- Muscles: You have three major muscles that work together for your knee to move. Your quadriceps , hamstring , and calf all work together. When you bend your knee, for example, your hamstrings contract and your quads relax.
- Bones: Your femur , tibia and patella work together to make your knee bend. The patella sits in a groove in your femur, and the upper and lower leg bones will roll, glide, and spin around the patella. Your muscles control how those bones move.
- Cartilage: Your knee has cartilage in the knee cap, cushioning the bones so you have shock absorption. The meniscus is that cartilage. It is a spongy substance that moves with the movement of your upper and lower thigh bones.
- Ligaments and tendons: these are the stringy tissues that connect your bones to bones and bones to muscles . They stabilize your knee so it does not go crooked as you bend. They keep the knee joint in line with your hip and ankle.
Potential Causes Of Knee Pain When Bending
Patients who cant bend their knee without experiencing pain are often diagnosed with one of these conditions:
For nearly any type of knee injury, physical therapy can be a highly effective form of treatment.
Possible Problems When Your Knee Hurts When Bending Backwards
Ligaments are generally injured either by unexpected twisting motions, or when a good deal of force goes through part of the knee e.g. from a sporting take on. They are the most typical knee injuries in sports.
What is it: Overstretching any of the knee ligaments which tears some of the fibers. This is among the most common knee injuries.
Causes: abrupt force through the knee or sudden twisting
Symptoms: knee pain, swelling, instability, difficulty bending and straightening the knee
Treatment: PRICE, exercises, knee braces. See the knee sprain area for more info.
Classic presentation of a PCL injury among the less typical knee injuries.
What is it: Tear of the Posterior Cruciate Ligament that sits inside the knee joint. One of the less typical knee injuries.
Causes: A force through the top of the shin bone causing the knee to bend backwards e.g. car accident or fall on to a bent knee.
Immediate Symptoms: Usually relatively mild pain and swelling. Frequently not discovered immediately. The shin bone tends to drop back from its typical position.
Long Term Consequences: Instability, particuarly with activities when the knee is bent e.g. stairs, problems with running.
Treatment: Knee brace, physical therapy and/or surgery. See PCL Injuries section for more details.
Knee Cap Injuries
Kneecap problems are less common knee injuries as they need a lot of force through the knee.
What is it: When the kneecap bone burglarize two or more pieces.
Knee Pain When Bending Leg Backwards: Detailed Analysis
Symptoms of a Serious Problem
Pain anywhere in this area could be the sign of a serious injury. It can begin promptly or gradually build over days or weeks to the point that youre left hopping or rendered immobile. Signs of knee inflammation include:
- Reddening of the skin
- The knee area feels warm to the touch
Frequently, a knee injury activates this inflammatory reaction, though it could also be the result of an infection.
Do you have pain above the kneecap? Above the kneecap, your patella is secured by a strong tendon that links the bone to the powerful muscles in your thigh, according to iytmed.com. Pain in this location can indicate that youve sprained or torn this tendon. Its likewise possible, as with any pain you feel in this complicated part of the body, that the pain is referred from deeper in the joint, as with a tear in the knees cartilage.
Do you pain in back of knee? Behind the knee, the flesh of your leg feels soft and heavily padded. This region called the poplitealis the home of a number of blood vessels that feed your lower leg. You can even feel your pulse in this area if you can locate your popliteal artery. Pain in this area of the knee is in some cases the result of damage to or inflammation of these soft tissues.
Surgery for Traumatic Injury
Total Knee Replacement
Knee Hurts When Bending Backwards: Recovery
Five Common Reasons For Inside Knee Pain
Pain on the inside of the knee can happen to anyone, whether youre a runner, footballer or casual gym-goer. Today, Bodyset Senior MSK Physiotherapist, Matt looks in detail at five of the most common causes of medial knee pain. He also shares tips on how to avoid a knee injury and what to do if you it happens to you.
Medial collateral ligament strain
The MCL is one of the four major ligaments of the knee. The others are the ACL , PCL and LCL . The role of these ligaments is to maintain the stability of the knee joint and prevent forces from moving the thigh and shin bones apart. The MCL runs vertically along the inside of the knee from the thigh bone , across the knee joint to the shin bone . Ligament injuries often occur due to an obvious mechanism of injury, such as a twist or a force hitting the outside of the knee . Dependent on the severity of the injury, there may be swelling, bruising and pain on the inside of the knee. You may also experience difficulty walking and a feeling of instability in the knee.
Medial meniscus injury
Wear and tear
Pes anserine bursitis
What can you do to reduce knee pain?
What can we do to help?
Need some support?
If you are in pain and would like to consult a physiotherapist, book in for a 45-minute assessment. Call 033 0333 0435 or book online below.
Most Common Causes Of Knee Pain
Other common causes of knee pain include:
- A dislocated kneecap
- Iliotibial band syndrome burning pain on the outer side of your knee that can spread to your hip or thigh and is caused by inflammation it commonly occurs in runners
- Knee bursitis inflammation of the fluid-filled cushions in your knee joint, which causes swelling, warmth and pain
- Osgood-Schlatter disease a condition that causes pain and swelling at the point where the patellar tendon meets the top of your shinbone
- Osteoarthritis a type of arthritis caused by wear and tear of your joints over time, which causes pain, swelling and stiffness that is worse in the morning
- Patellar tendonitis inflammation of the patellar tendon, which connects your kneecap to your shinbone this causes burning pain just below your kneecap
Iliotibial band syndrome, knee bursitis, runners knee, osteoarthritis and patellar tendonitis can also cause knee pain when bending. Other causes of knee pain when bending include:
Pain behind knee when bending
If your knee pain when bending occurs behind your knee, the most likely causes are a Bakers cyst, hamstring tendonitis or a knee injury.
Sharp pain in knee when bending
If your knee pain when bending is sharp, the most likely causes are a torn ligament or meniscus, fracture of one of the bones of your knee joint, osteoarthritis or patellar tendonitis.
Pain at the top of kneecap when bending