Posterior knee pain is pain at the back of the knee. Below we outline the most common causes of pain at the back of the knee, less common causes as well as important conditions and injuries that should not be missed. Biceps femoris tendonitis (hamstring tendonitis) is probably the most common over use injury at the back of the knee although referred pain and various causes of swelling are also likely causes of pain at the back of the knee.
Gastrocnemius tendinopathy or tendinitis is inflammation or degeneration of the tendon of the calf muscle causing pain at the back of the knee. This is an overuse injury which is more common in runners and sprinters.
A Baker's Cyst or Popliteal cyst is a prominent swelling at the back of the knee. It is usually caused by an underlying injury or condition in the knee joint.
Posterolateral Corner Injury Posterolateral corner injuries cause pain at the back and outside of the knee. They are not particularly common injuries, although around half of cases occur due to sporting injuries, with road traffic accidents being another common cause.
The biceps femoris tendon is one of the hamstring muscle tendons. Injury to this tendon causes pain at the outside, back of the knee.
Tennis leg is a general term used to describe pain in the leg caused by a tear of the inner head of the big calf muscle, the plantaris muscle or sometimes both.
The Popliteus is a small muscle located at the back of the knee joint. An injury or strain to the muscle or tendon can cause pain at the back of the knee.
Referred pain is where an injury or problem elsewhere causes pain at the back of the knee. This can be from the lower back or lumbar spine and pain is referred down into the knee through the sciatic nerve. Or pain from the patellofemoral joint or between the kneecap and thigh bone can also refer pain into the back of the knee.
Popliteus tendonitis or injury is inflammation or injury to the small muscle at the back of the knee called the popliteus. The role of the popliteus muscle is to internally rotate the tibia or shin bone. Symptoms include pain at the back of the knee joint with tenderness when pressing in. Pain may be reproduced when the knee is bent against resistance whilst the lower leg or tibia bone is rotated outwards.
Gastrocnemius tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon of the large calf muscle at the point it originates at the back of the knee. This is an over use injury and usually affects the inside back of the knee joint where the muscle originates.
Deep vein thrombosis or DVT as it is known for short is a blot clot in a vein common in the calf muscle. It usually occurs following surgery or a long period of immobilization in the calf muscle itself although can occur in the back of the knee. It is very important this is not missed or confused with a calf strain as serious injury or death could result if wrongly treated.
Posterior cruciate ligament injury is a tear or sprain to the posterior cruciate ligament at the back of the knee. The role of this ligament is to prevent the knee from bending back the wrong way and is usually injured when the knee is forced to do just that. Symptoms include pain at the time of injury with possibly a little swelling depending on how bad the injury is. The athlete may complain of the knee feeling unstable and giving way beneath them.Claudication is pain or cramping in the legs due to insufficient blood flow and / or tiredness.
Back pain is usually caused by a sprain or strain in the back. Warming up properly before exercise can reduce the risk of back pain.
Back pain is often felt as soreness, tension or stiffness in the lower back, but it can be felt anywhere from the neck and shoulders down to the buttocks and legs.
A broken bone may cause swelling, significant bruising and tenderness around the injured area, and bleeding if the bone has broken the skin (an open fracture). It's unlikely you'll be able to use the affected limb.
The pain associated with a broken bone can be severe and make you feel faint, dizzy and sick.
If any part of your body looks deformed, including your fingers, you may have broken a bone. You should go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department.
Find out how how to tell if you've broken a bone.
Hamstring injuries are tears to the tendons or large muscles at the back of the thighs. They're a common injury in athletes and recreational exercisers.
Sudden lunging, running or jumping can cause the hamstring tendons or muscles to tear, which can be felt or heard as a pop and will be immediately painful. The muscle will spasm (seize up) and feel tight and tender. In some cases, there may also be swelling and bruising. Head injuries
Minor head injuries, such as bumps and bruises, are common and aren't usually serious. If you have any concerns, see your GP or go to your local walk-in centre.
Go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department or call 999 and ask for an ambulance if you develop any symptoms of a severe head injury, such as:
Heel pain can occur when the thick band of tissue that runs under the sole of the foot becomes inflamed. It's a common running injury.
It can cause a sharp and often severe pain when you place weight on your heel. In most cases, only one heel is affected, although some people have pain in both heels.
Heel pain and stiffness can also sometimes be caused by damage or tightness of the Achilles tendon, which runs up the back of the heel. This can occur gradually over a long period of time, or the tendon can suddenly rupture or tear.
If you experience sudden and severe pain in the back of your heel, which may be accompanied by a "popping" or "snapping" sound, you may have torn your Achilles tendon and should go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department immediately.
Swollen joints can be caused by conditions that affect the joints or structures around joints, such as bursa and tendons. Bursa are small fluid-filled sacs underneath the skin, found over the joints and between tendons and bones.
Examples of these types of conditions include: