The knee is your body’s biggest joint and sometimes pain behind the knee is a sign of a chronic condition like arthritis that damages the knee gradually over time.
The knee is one of the most injury-prone areas, and it is made up of bones that can fracture or move out of joint, as well as cartilage, ligaments, and tendons that can strain or tear.
Some knee injuries eventually heal on their own with rest and care, while others require surgery or other medical interventions.
Here are some of the conditions that can cause pain in the back of your knee:
If you suddenly experience stiffness or pain behind knee at the start of your run, but it eventually subsides a few minutes into your workout, then you may have tendonitis in your hamstring.
This is common with runners who log longer distances and participate in road races and eventually don’t get enough hip flexion from fatigue and improper technique.
The overuse occurs when the lower leg swings forward like a pendulum and thus puts a strain on the hamstrings over and over during a long run.
To fix this, see a sports doctor who will figure out what’s aggravating your injury by doing a gait analysis to pinpoint which muscles are not firing properly and paint a picture of your running form and technique.
Often weak butt muscles are to blame for pain behind the knee, but strengthening pelvic stabilizers is also important.
Try the clam opener move; Lie on your back and place a resistance band loop around your bent knees; open your legs by pushing against the band and repeat three sets of 25 reps.
A cramp is a tightening of a muscle, and muscles in the calves are most likely to cramp, but other leg muscles can cramp up, too, including muscles in the back of the thigh near the knee.
You’re likely to experience leg cramps when you exercise or during pregnancy. Other possible causes of leg cramps include:
- nerve problems in your legs
- Infections(e.g tetanus)
- liver disease
- Toxins(e.g lead or mercury) in the blood
When you have a cramp, the pain lasts anywhere from a few seconds to 10 minutes, after which, the muscle may be sore for few hours
Inflammatory pain is a symptom of tearing and interior damage to soft tissue and tendons, and if the pain you’re feeling in the back of your knee is a tight, throbbing, almost “undercurrent” kind of knee pain, then you are probably fighting off inflammation.
Most of the time, this inflammation is going to be caused by damage to the soft tissue in your knees.
As your knee bends your tendons are going to flex back and forth, and after years and years of this consistent movement, your tendons are going to become inflamed and damaged along the way.
And if that happens your knee is going to swell, fluid is going to build up, and you’re going to feel some pain from the inflammation. With inflammation, running, kicking, and working out your lower body is all going to have a negative cumulative effect on your knees.
Jumper’s knee is an injury to the tendon. The tendon is the cord that connects your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone, and it is also called patellar tendonitis. Jumper’s knee can happen when you jump or change direction, such as when playing volleyball or basketball.
These kinds of movements can cause tiny tears in the tendon, which eventually swells up and weakens. Jumper’s knee causes pain below the kneecap, and the pain gets worse over time. Other symptoms of jumper’s knee include:
- trouble bending and straightening your knee
Too much running without variations in speed or distance can cause excessive rubbing of the cartilages in and around the knee, which can irritate the soft tissues and posterior surface of the cap.
As one bend and straighten his leg, you’ll feel a swollen lump and pain behind your knee.
To fix this, you can take time off from training since same repetitive knee bending and straightening action from excessive overuse leads to accumulation of fluid, which results in a cyst behind the knee. However, the best way to treat this is to get an injection or have the spot aspirated to draw out the fluid.
There is a therapy known as Active Release Techniques (ART), a special kind of massage to treat injuries.
It can break up scar tissue in the hamstring and relieve pain behind the knee. Remember that a Baker’s cyst can reoccur if you have arthritis or a meniscus tear.
The meniscus is a wedge-shaped piece of cartilage that cushions and stabilizes your knee joint. Each of your knees has two menisci, one on either side of the knee.
Athletes sometimes tear the meniscus when they squat and twist the knee, and as you get older, your meniscus weakens and degenerates and is more likely to tear with any twisting motion.
When you tear a meniscus, at first the injury might not hurt, but after you walk on it for a few days, the knee can become more painful.
Rest, ice, and elevation of the affected knee can help alleviate the symptoms and allow it to heal faster, but if the tear doesn’t improve on its own, you might need surgery to repair it.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a band of tissue that runs through the front of your knee joint and connects your thighbone to your shinbone. It helps stabilize and provide movement to your knee.
Most ACL injuries happen when you slow down, stop, or change direction suddenly while running, and you can also strain or tear this ligament if you land a jump wrong, or you get hit in a contact sport like football.
Afterward, your knee will hurt and swell up, and you might have trouble fully moving your knee and feel pain when you walk.
Rest and physical therapy can help an ACL strain heal, and if the ligament is torn, you’ll often need surgery to fix it.
Get to a doctor
At the end of the day, anything but a slightly irritating and fleeting pain signal in the back of your knee can be a symptom of something much more serious that needs to be addressed in a hurry, and you’ll want to seek out medical assistance as soon as possible.
Most of the time a little bit of therapy, some prescription painkillers, and some rest and time will be enough to get over the pain and restore the damage that may have been done.
But in rare circumstances, you’ll need to move forward with a surgical solution that cleans up the problem from the inside out.