Back of knee pain: Causes And Relief
What is the pain in the back of your knee? It's a type of knee pain that anyone can experience at any time. There are many causes for this type of pain, and it is not easy to pinpoint the exact cause. In this article, we will discuss why you might experience back of knee pain and how to relieve it!
The knee joint
One of the most critical joints in the body is the knee joint. It's essential for mobility and walking. The knee joint, specifically, is made up of the femur, tibia, and kneecap. The point where all three bones come together is known as the patellofemoral joint. This can be a common area for the pain to develop due to inflammation or stress over time.
Pain in the knee is common, so common that there are over 60 knee conditions that can cause pain. With so many, it's essential to know the symptoms and what could be causing your discomfort.
Behind the knee pain is unique in that it's considered an uncommon area to have pain.
Common symptoms of a knee injury include:
- Swelling around or near the affected area
- Pain when bending/straightening out the leg
- Weakness in muscles surrounding or attached
Causes Of Pain Behind The Knee
The root causes of pain behind the knee can be broken down into external and internal to the joint.
External causes of pain behind the knee can include:
External to joint
A muscle strain to the back of the knee muscle can be a direct cause. The muscles that can cause pain in the back of the knee are the hamstrings, quadriceps, or calves.
Symptoms include pain, swelling, and stiffness in the back of the knee when sitting with the leg straight for an extended period or after an activity like hiking/walking uphill.
There are a few conditions that can happen on the back of your knee. A baker's cyst, a synovial cyst, and a ganglion cyst are all names for fluid-filled sacs that can grow at the back of your knee. These often appear as an annoyance but must be checked out by a doctor to rule out any other issues.
Cysts don't often heal on their own, and ones on the back of your knee can be a symptom of a more serious issue. You should see a doctor for medical advice if you suspect pain behind the knee is a cyst.
The knee joint is a complicated joint with many ligaments, muscles, and cartilage that can all cause pain behind your knee.
A common cause of pain behind the knee is arthritis. Osteoarthritis or "wear and tear" arthritis is a condition where the cartilage in your knee wears down over time.
This will cause pain behind the knee and stiffness, swelling, and limited mobility of the joint. This can be treated with exercise and medication to reduce inflammation but ultimately may require surgery.
Another form of arthritis that can cause pain at the back of the knee is rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system attacks healthy tissue.
The pain behind the knee caused by this condition can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy to strengthen surrounding muscles, as well as surgery to remove or replace worn out cartilage in your knees.
Ligament injuries affect the function of the knee and can be a root cause of pain behind the knee. The ligaments most associated with knee pain are the posterior cruciate ligament or PCL and the medial collateral ligament.
There are a variety of surgeries that can be done to treat these injuries, from stitching up torn ACLs, reconstructing them with synthetic material, repairing damaged MCLs, to replacing worn out cartilage in your knees.
Hyperextension is when your knee goes past its normal straight position. This can cause pain behind your knee because when it bends back too far, the muscles in front of the joint are put under tension and become inflamed.
When this happens, you will feel a popping feeling in your knee or hear a snapping sound. If you have hyperextension in your knees, it is best to seek treatment from a doctor. Advanced hyperextensions may require surgery for the pain to go away.
How to reduce pain behind the knee
If you have persistent, severe pain, seek a doctor to provide medical advice as it can be a severe situation that cannot heal with your help. If your pain is due to minor conditions like a muscle strain or inflammation, the following will help reduce the knee pain and swelling and help heal the injury.
It's crucial that if you have knee pain, rest it. If you can avoid strenuous activities that will cause knee pain, doing so is advised.
Rest doesn't necessarily mean not moving in general. The use of crutches can help bring some freedom to your situation.
The rest phase of the healing is recommended to last a few days up to two weeks.
In conjunction with rest, you will want to ice the knee to help bring down inflammation. Reducing inflammation will help with the pain behind the knee.
Icing can be done using a gel pack, an ice cup, or even simply with some cold water in a bowl. You'll want to do it in intervals.
Using a compression wrap or sleeve may also be helpful in the healing process. It is essential to avoid wearing restrictive clothing around the knee as they can hinder range of motion and slow down recovery time.
Compression wraps work by providing pressure to an injured area.
You'll want to compress the knee for about 20 minutes.
Another way to reduce pain is by elevating the back of the knee. Elevate it as high as possible with pillows or cushions like a couch, bed, or office chair.
If you have trouble getting elevation through these means due to your injury, ask someone for assistance if needed.
Stretching and Exercises
Avoiding movement of the knee is essential, but stretching and strengthening exercises should be done to help heal it faster. You can ask your doctor or physical therapist for guidance when it comes to these activities.
Just as we use heat to reduce pain and inflammation, we also want to use it post-injury if the knee isn't too swollen. Heat will help increase blood flow which is what you need for healing.
Like icing, you'll want to do it at intervals. They recommend 20 minutes of heat followed by 20 minutes without.
While it has not been confirmed yet, CBD may be a way to help reduce pain and inflammation in the injured knee. Studies are still ongoing, and nothing has been confirmed, but early signs show positive progress.
All reports are anecdotal, but it may be a low risk way to bring relief to the injury.
When you should see a doctor
This article is not intended to be medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of pain behind the knee.
One thing to note is that if you have severe pain or it starts getting worse, you should see your doctor.
While the information in this article does not mean they will happen, some of these conditions may be signs there is something wrong with the knee, and more aggressive treatment like surgery might be needed. It's always best to see a doctor for knee injuries, even if the knee pain is minor at first.
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It is essential to know why knee pain at the back of the knee is occurring, so you know how to treat it. There are many reasons why this may happen, and seeing a doctor will help diagnose any issues so you can receive relief.
Knee pain behind the knee occurs for numerous reasons like baker's cyst, arthritis, muscle strain, and sprained or torn ligaments. Some of these conditions are treatable on your own or may require medical intervention. Knee injuries are a serious thing and can have a significant impact on your quality of life.
If you want to take precautions in treating your knee, the rest, ice, elevate and compress technique is always a good start on your healing process. We wish you the best of luck and a fast recovery!