What Causes Pain in the Back of the Knee

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IT Band)
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IT Band)

What Causes Pain in the Back of the Knee

As stated by International Association for the Study of Pain, it is projected that by 2030 approximately 30% of American adults will report joint pain. The most common site will be the knee joint. According to CDC records, about 15 million Americans experience severe joint pain, which includes knee pain.

With that said, you have every reason to know exactly what causes pain in the back of the knee. The knee is a very important part of the body as it acts as the weight bearing joint. This simply means that all your movements will be restricted if your suffer knee pain. Most affected people are usually athletes, but even common people suffer the same fate at some time.

Consistent with a particular case, pain in the back of the knee can do more than restrict movement. It can reduce strength and affect muscle control. Currently, do you know what causes pain in the back of the knee? If not, the following are the major causes of pain in the back of the knee that you have to be familiar with.

1. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IT Band)

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IT Band)
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IT Band)

Iliotibial band syndrome is one of the major causes of pain in the back of the knee of runners and athletes. The condition normally arises due to extension movements and repetitive knee flexion. This may lead to inflammation and snapping sensation on the exterior of the knee. Running downhill or walking on a banked surface can significantly affect the IT band. The syndrome may not require surgery. You can alleviate the condition through physical therapy, stretching, activity modification, and icing.

2. Knee Tendinitis


Knee tendinitis results from overuse or repetitive movements in active people. The patient normally presents a deceptive onset of pain. At first, the patient may feel pain only after intense activity. Pain may also be experienced at the start of the activity and improve during warm-up. The different forms of knee tendinitis that you can experience are: popliteal tendon, quadriceps and patellar tendinitis. The basic treatment measures include: activity modification, stretching and strengthening, physiotherapy, ice, rest and anti-inflammatory medication. You should consult a physician if the condition worsens.

3. Knee Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a condition that involves wear and tear of joints and cartilage. The condition involves inflammation of the joints resulting to stiffness and swelling. The most affected joint is usually the knee. Research suggests that the prevalence of arthritis of the knee has increased since 1940, and about 20% of the American population over 45 years suffer from the condition. The pain in the back of the knee due to knee osteoarthritis may impede movement and even lead to disability. Control measures typically include: exercise, weight loss, knee brace, corticosteroid shots and medication.

4. Gout

Gout is a sudden pain in the knee due to overuse or injury. A gout attack may attack the toes for the first time. However, the attack can spread to other body joints with time. The attack is incredibly painful when it attacks the knee joint. The knee swells and stiffens to the point that you can’t use it at all. The knee joint normally gets tender and hot when a gout attack occurs. In severe cases, you may not be able to fold your leg and walking becomes challenging. If not treated, pain in the back of the knee may increase and extend to the lower leg. Arthritis Foundation advise you to relax, drink plenty of fluids, ice, elevate the joint, take anti-inflammatory medication and consult your physician.

5. Baker’s Cyst

Baker’s cyst is a direct outcome of excessive synovial fluid production, leading to the formation of a lump behind the patient’s knee. If you have a baker’s cyst, you will complain of a feeling of fullness behind the knee (lump or cyst). The lump may continue to increase in size. The baker’s cyst may suddenly rupture, and it can be misdiagnosed. Apart from the lump, people with baker’s cyst may feel stiffness or tightness behind the knee. The baker’s cyst may disappear naturally; otherwise you should seek medical attention.

6. Dislocated Kneecap

This condition occurs when the kneecap is displaced to the exterior of the knee, leading to deformity and pain. A dislocated kneecap normally occurs from a twisting injury when the knee is extended. Even though a dislocated kneecap can be excruciatingly painful, it is not dangerous. Some people may have repeated dislocations. You will know that your kneecap is dislocated when there is pain in the back of the knee, an inability to straighten or bend the knee, and deformity when compared to the other knee. Do not attempt to relocate a dislocated kneecap; instead you should seek medical care.

7. Popliteus Injury

This injury is associated with a small muscle found at the back of the knee. Too much force applied to the popliteus causes pain. The injury can be caused by overuse or an acute injury. Overuse damages to the popliteus progresses slowly and they are usually caused by tight hamstring muscles and biomechanical issues. Acute injury occurs after the knee experiences significant force. The major symptoms of this injury are: pain in the back of the knee, decreased function, decreased strength, less movement and swelling.

8. Obesity

According to research, obesity and overweight are responsible for one-fifth of the pain in the back of the knee cases. A clear relationship between BMI and onset of knee pain has been established. Apart from applying excess pressure on your knee joints, obesity can lead to osteoarthritis due to joint cartilage breakdown. You can manage obesity by doing the following: diet modification, do physical exercises, goal setting, relapse prevention, nonfood rewards, stimulus control and goal setting.

Now that you know what causes pain in the back of the knee, you should be able to notice significant changes. The aforementioned are the major causes of pain in the back of the knee. Knee pain should be handled with proper care so as to prevent recurrence of the injuries or conditions, and you should seek medical consultation if the injuries or conditions worsen.

Founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab. I continue my education with ongoing studies in spine conditions, neurology, physical rehabilitation, bio mechanics, whiplash and brain injury trauma. I am also a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians.


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