Pain Behind the Knee (Posterior Pain)

Feeling a nagging pain behind your knee? Don’t worry – you’re not alone! Many of us have experienced posterior knee pain at one time or another, but it doesn’t mean you should ignore it. In this article, we’ll look into what could be causing your posterior knee pain and the steps you can take to manage it. Let’s get started!


Types of Pain Behind the Knee

Pain behind the knee is a common symptom that can be caused by a number of medical conditions. In some cases, severe knee injuries such as a heavy blow from a hard object or a car accident can also cause pain in this area. Other conditions like osteoarthritis, baker’s cyst, and popliteal cyst are more likely to cause posterior pain.

Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of posterior knee pain and is characterized by a thin layer of tissue that lines the cartilage in the bones that make up the joint. This causes damage to the joint and may even lead to its destruction if left untreated. Baker’s cyst also called baker’s bursitis, is another condition that can cause dull or sharp pains behind the knee when it becomes inflamed or swollen due to fluid buildup on either side of a shallow pit behind your knee.

A popliteal cyst, sometimes referred to as “Baker’s Cyst,” may be present when you try to straighten your leg and it appears as a round lump behind your knee that can be painful when touched. It’s caused by damage to the ligaments of the kneecap or posterior cruciate ligament due to overuse from activities like sports or running and other health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

Recognizing different types of pain behind the knee is an important step in ensuring treatment for any underlying condition before it progresses further. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for dealing with these types of ailments, understanding their common symptoms helps tackle them more effectively and get back on your feet again soon!

Causes of Pain Behind the Knee

Pain behind the knee can be concerning, as it is one of those body pains that can be difficult to self-diagnose or easily explain. Causes of posterior knee pain range from being very common, such as a simple strain, to being very rare, such as cancerous growth or septic arthritis. If you are experiencing any type of painful sensation behind your knee, it is important to seek professional medical advice right away.

Common causes of pain behind the knee include:

  • Ligament injury – This can cause tenderness at the back of your knee.
  • Bursitis – This can cause swelling and inflammation in the area.
  • Injury to the back muscles – from running or sports activities can cause pain and discomfort in the area.
  • Osteoarthritis – A common form of knee arthritis, caused by the breakdown of cartilage and lasting pain around your joint.

Slightly rare causes include:

  • Fractures to the bones around your joint – These can be caused by a sudden force into your joint such as a fall or car accident.
  • Tendonitis -Tendonitis can occur when there is an overuse of muscles while running or other activities and tends to occur at the sides or back of your joints where tendons attach muscles to bone Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) – An overuse injury commonly occurring in athletes who participate in long-distance running that causes inflammation on outer side on your leg which attaches above at hip and below at lateral aspect (outside) portion of shinbone/tibia Tumors – Benign tumors are rarely located near joints in general but malignant growths, unfortunately, have even less inclination for appearing in this region than benign ones (although it does happen). Septic arthritis – The potential for serious systemic infections exists whenever there is an infection within a joint which unfortunately includes the posterior part of the knees.

No matter what type of pain you experience with posterior knee pain, it is important to have medical attention if it persists for more than 48 hours treatment may begin promptly if anything more serious is involved besides typical causes listed like sprains stains tears ligament injuries bursitis ITBS neuromas, etc. Appropriate diagnostic tests such as X Rays CT scans MRI ultrasounds may also help uncover what could be underlying issues causing problems with your knee.

Symptoms Of Pain Behind The Knee

Pain behind the knee can have many causes, and should not be taken lightly, as it can be a sign of a very serious condition. Symptoms vary depending on the underlying cause but may include swelling and tenderness behind the knee, tenderness in other parts of the leg such as the calf muscle, or stiffness when trying to move the knee. Some causes of pain behind the knee include osteoarthritis, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a Popliteal cyst (also known as a ‘Baker’s cyst’), or even an injury to one of your knee ligaments such as a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).

If you experience any sudden and severe pain at anytime accompanied by swelling in your knee area, it is very important that you seek medical help immediately. Osteoarthritis tends to cause gentle soreness rather than sharp pain and may be worsened if your arthritis affects more than one joint; for example if your arthritis has spread from another knee joint into this one.

DVT occurs when a piece of thrombus becomes dislodged from another part of your body and travels up into your legs; this type of leg pain is usually more severe than short-term pains caused by other conditions. If a popliteal cyst bursts then urgent treatment is advisable due to the increased risk for infection plus very large swellings consuming the entire calf area soon are created.

Ultimately it can be hard to know what is causing your particular pain behind the knee without seeing an experienced medical professional who can do diagnostic tests including X-rays and MRI scans on your knee in order to determine its cause. It is therefore very important that you make sure you are aware of what could be causing your posterior pain so that correct diagnosis can take place sooner rather than later so that any discomfort can be relieved quickly and back onto a healthy track sooner.

Diagnosis of Pain Behind the Knee

Pain behind the knee can be caused by a variety of conditions. Proper diagnosis is essential for proper treatment, and your doctor will assess your medical history and complete a physical exam to determine the cause. In some cases, imaging such as an ultrasound scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

An ultrasound scan looks at soft tissues such as tendons, ligaments, and muscles near the area of pain. An MRI uses radio waves and a powerful magnet to create pictures that give your doctor information about the structure of nearby tissues. MRI images can help rule out serious conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a popliteal cyst which are rare but possible causes of pain behind the knee.

Your doctor should also consider whether you have recently experienced an injury or strain that could include damage to ligaments, kneecap cartilage, or posterior cruciate ligaments – important structures in the knee joint.

Your doctor should also find out how active you are, what kind of sports you play, and how frequently you work with your knees when diagnosing posterior pain. All this information can help focus on possible diagnoses for posterior pain including:

  • Knee bursitis
  • Arthritis
  • Tendinitis
  • Meniscus tear
  • Strain or sprain in ligament

It’s important not to diagnose yourself with any conditions through a quick search online so it’s best to consult with your medical provider who will order tests if necessary, evaluate your medical history and make the correct diagnosis for relief from posterior pain behind the knee.

Self-help for Pain Behind the Knee

Pain behind the knee can be caused by a variety of conditions and injuries, many of which require medical help. If your knee suddenly buckles, you experience severe pain, or if your knee is very swollen and bluish in color, it could indicate a blood clot and requires an urgent medical consultation.

A popliteal cyst or ligament injury are other likely causes of posterior pain. Even if you don’t believe that your condition is urgent, it’s always a good idea to get medical advice about any pain in the knee.

If your doctor determines that further care is not needed right away and instead focuses on self-help remedies, here are some actions that may help:


For most conditions involving pain behind the knee—especially if it’s due to overuse—it’s important to give your knee adequate rest until symptoms have resolved substantially.


Ice can be applied up to 10 minutes at a time every hour or two in order to reduce inflammation around the area of posterior discomfort.


Consider wearing an elastic bandage around the region when moving around or engaging in physical activities. This will provide added stability as well as improved circulation for adequate healing.


Try propping up your leg above hip level regularly throughout the day when resting in order to decrease swelling and consequently ease discomfort around your affected joint.

Physical Therapy Exercises

Ask about prescribed exercises which are meant to target areas prone to developing popliteal cysts like muscle imbalances present in hip abductors/external rotators, glutes (contralateral side), and calf muscles Gastrocnemius/ VMO). Perform these exercises with optimal loading techniques which are specific for each individual case and under guidance from a professional.

It should also be noted that while there are certain home remedies you can use as self-help measures when experiencing minor uncomforting symptoms– such as heat therapy– more aggressive treatment methods should solely be administered by healthcare entities– such as corticosteroid injections –as these could further harm procedures if used improperly.

Treatment of Pain Behind the Knee

Pain behind the knee can result from a number of causes and conditions, such as posterior knee pain or swelling. It is important to obtain a clear diagnosis in order to understand the underlying cause and develop the appropriate treatment plan. Depending on factors like age, medical history, and what condition may be causing the pain, doctors might recommend various treatments.

For example, if the pain is caused by osteoarthritis—a condition caused by degeneration of joint cartilage—physical therapy can help alleviate pain by increasing joint mobility and flexibility. Strengthening exercises may also help improve overall stability in order to decrease subsequent discomfort. Some doctors also may refer patients to use products such as braces or crutches in order to reduce the stress that’s placed on tendons while walking or running.

In addition, medications that help mitigate inflammation can be taken orally or injected into an affected area. Surgery could also be recommended for certain causes of posterior knee pain, such as a torn cruciate ligament (ACL). In this scenario, ACL reconstruction surgery would involve donor tissue being secured inside your knee for reattaching your ACL so that it can regain full range of motion and stability again.

Receiving an accurate diagnosis is essential in providing appropriate treatment methods for posterior knee issues; therefore it is highly recommended that individuals contact their physician if they are experiencing any form of discomfort around this area in order to clear up any further questions and determine what condition they may have and how it should best be managed moving forward.

When to See Your Doctor

Pain behind the knee is quite common and often due to minor injuries, whether occurring suddenly or over time. However, sometimes severity or odd symptoms may point to a more serious cause that requires medical attention and diagnosis. If you experience any of these signs or conditions, it is important that you seek medical advice immediately:

• Severe Pain: If the pain behind the knee is sudden and potential in severity, accompanied by other symptoms like difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg, it could be indicative of something more serious.

• Swelling: When there is sudden and persistent swelling in the knee accompanied by other symptoms like stiffness or redness, these are signals for immediate medical attention as swelling can be an indicator that something deeper might need to be addressed.

• Stiffness: Pain behind the knee can sometimes indicate an underlying condition such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT leads to a blockage preventing blood from flowing normally in your veins causing pain with certain movements. If your knee has become very swollen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pain behind the knee is typically caused by an injury to the muscles, tendons, or ligaments in the back of the knee. Common causes include muscle strain, a Baker's cyst, tendonitis, and a meniscus tear. It is important to seek medical attention if the pain persists, as it may be indicative of a more serious underlying condition.

The back of your knee can hurt when you straighten it due to a condition called "Posterior knee pain syndrome". This condition is often caused by overuse or by a sudden increase in activity that puts strain on the muscles and tendons that support the knee joint. It can also be due to an injury or inflammation in the tissues surrounding the knee joint. Treatment for this condition includes rest, ice or heat therapy, stretching, and strengthening exercises.

Posterior knee pain is a type of pain that is felt in the back or behind the knee. It is caused by a variety of different conditions, such as tendinitis, bursitis, muscle strain, or ligament sprain. Other causes of posterior knee pain include arthritis, gout, a Baker's cyst, or a fracture. Treatment for posterior knee pain depends on the underlying cause and may involve rest, ice, physical therapy, and medications.

knee, pain, back, injury, symptoms, arthritis, leg, treatment, muscles, tendon, cyst, tendonitis, joint, causes, muscle, injuries, meniscus, doctor, cartilage, surgery, condition, ligament, cause, kneecap, tears, baker, calf, tear, blood, tendons, therapy, rest, strain, health, ligaments, people, body, time, inflammation, cases, knee pain, knee joint, physical therapy, posterior knee pain, blood clot, deep vein thrombosis, patellar tendonitis, common causes, common cause, popliteal cyst, physical activity, ligament injury, patellar tendon, calf muscles, sharp pain, meniscus tear, possible causes, posterior cruciate ligament, knee injury, anti-inflammatory drugs, anterior cruciate ligament, rheumatoid arthritis, lateral meniscus, knee injuries, few days, medical attention, femoris tendonitis, sudden pain, leg cramps, tiny tears


The posterior knee pain you experience can be caused by a variety of conditions, ranging from simple surface injuries to more serious underlying issues. In most cases, the symptoms should ease up in a few days with proper rest and treatment. However, if the pain is severe or lasts for a long time, it could indicate that you have an underlying medical problem and should seek professional medical attention.

Your doctor will assess your condition and develop the best treatment plan for finding relief from your posterior knee pain. Depending on what your doctor finds, he/she may recommend medications, physical therapy, or other types of treatment to help you manage your pain as well as any potential longer-term issues.

By understanding the possible causes behind your posterior knee pain, you can make sure that you get the professional help you need to treat it correctly and give yourself the best chance of recovering quickly and completely without any serious repercussions down the line.

Spine Institute NY