back of knee pain

Back of Knee Pain – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Back of Knee Pain


Back of knee pain refers to discomfort or pain experienced in the area behind the knee joint. It can occur due to various reasons, including ligament strain, cysts, hamstring injuries, meniscus tears, and tendinitis. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for back of knee pain is crucial for effective management and relief.


1. Knee Ligament Strain

Knee ligament strain, also known as a sprained knee, can cause back of knee pain. This occurs when the ligaments connecting the bones in the knee joint are stretched or torn. It can happen due to sudden twisting or bending of the knee, such as during sports activities or accidents.

2. Baker’s Cyst

A Baker’s cyst, also called a popliteal cyst, is a fluid-filled swelling located at the back of the knee joint. It usually develops as a result of knee joint inflammation or injury. The cyst can cause pain and discomfort in the back of the knee, especially when bending or straightening the leg.

3. Hamstring Injury

Hamstring injuries involve the muscles at the back of the thigh, which connect to the knee joint. Overstretching or tearing of these muscles can lead to back of knee pain. Hamstring injuries commonly occur during sports activities that involve sprinting, jumping, or sudden stops and starts.

4. Meniscus Tear

The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between the thigh bone and shin bone. A tear in the meniscus can cause pain at the back of the knee. This injury often occurs during activities that involve twisting or rotating the knee while bearing weight, such as sports or sudden movements.

5. Popliteal Tendinitis

Popliteal tendinitis, also known as tendinopathy, is the inflammation or irritation of the tendons at the back of the knee joint. This condition can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the back of the knee. Overuse, repetitive movements, or sudden increases in activity levels can contribute to popliteal tendinitis.


1. Swelling

One of the common symptoms of back of knee pain is swelling. This swelling can be localized or spread throughout the knee joint. It may be accompanied by redness and warmth in the affected area.

2. Pain with Movement

Back of knee pain often worsens with movement. Activities such as walking, running, or bending the knee can trigger or exacerbate the pain. The intensity of the pain can vary from mild to severe, depending on the underlying cause.

3. Stiffness

Stiffness in the back of the knee is another symptom of pain in this area. The knee may feel tight or difficult to bend or straighten fully. Stiffness can be especially noticeable after periods of rest or in the morning.

4. Clicking or Popping Sensation

Some individuals with back of knee pain may experience a clicking or popping sensation when moving their knee. This can occur due to joint instability, meniscus tears, or other underlying problems within the knee joint.


1. Rest and Ice

One of the initial steps in treating back of knee pain is to rest the affected knee and apply ice to reduce inflammation. Resting allows the injured tissues to heal, while applying ice helps alleviate pain and swelling. Ice packs can be applied for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours.

2. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the rehabilitation of back of knee pain. A qualified physical therapist can guide individuals through exercises and stretches that strengthen the muscles around the knee joint, improve flexibility, and promote proper biomechanics. Physical therapy can also include modalities such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation for pain relief.

3. Medications

Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation associated with back of knee pain. These medications can help manage symptoms while the underlying cause is being addressed. It is important to follow the recommended dosage and consult a healthcare professional before taking any medication.

4. Surgical Intervention

In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to treat back of knee pain. This can include procedures such as arthroscopy to repair or remove damaged tissues, or ligament reconstruction for severe ligament injuries. Surgery is typically considered when conservative treatments have failed to provide relief or when there is significant joint damage.


Back of knee pain can have various causes, including ligament strain, cysts, hamstring injuries, meniscus tears, and tendinitis. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking appropriate treatment is crucial for managing the pain and promoting healing. Rest, ice, physical therapy, medications, and, in some cases, surgical intervention can all play a role in the treatment of back of knee pain. If you are experiencing back of knee pain, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.

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back of knee pain