Pain Behind Knee

If you're experiencing severe pain behind the knee, you're not alone. Behind knee pain (also known as posterior knee pain) is one of the most common forms of aches people experience. The knee is one of the largest joints in the human body, and also one of the most complex. Our knee anatomy is comprised of bones (the tibia also known as the shin bone, the fibula which is the smaller bone that runs alongside the tibia, the thigh bone also known as the femur, and the patella which is also known as the kneecap), tendons, muscles, cartilage and ligaments (the ACL, PCL, LCL and MCL). If these areas are aggravated, either through a direct injury or over time, then a person may experience pain behind the knee.

What causes pain on the inside of the knee?

In addition to pain behind the knees, you may also experience some of these symptoms:

  • Swelling behind the knee
  • A lump behind the knee
  • Fluid around the knee
  • Clicking knee
  • Sensation that the knee is locking

It is important to note these symptoms to discuss with your physician during your visit.

The following are the most common causes of behind knee pain:

Baker's cyst - Also known as a popliteal cyst, a Baker's cyst is one of the most common causes of pain behind the knee. Throughout the body there are fluid-filled sacs called bursa which help lubricate and cushion our body parts as we move. When the bursae behind the knee (popliteal bursa) becomes inflamed, this is known as a Baker's cyst.

Arthritis - The natural wear and tear of our knee joint (osteoarthritis) or inflammation in the knee joint (rheumatoid arthritis) may cause pain behind knees. The pain may be more severe in the morning, when the joint is the most stiff.

Meniscus Tear - The menisci of the knee are the pieces of cartilage that cushions the knee joint. When the posterior portion of the meniscus is torn, it may cause pain behind the knee (or all over the knee with more acute pain toward the rear).

Other causes - Direct trauma to the knee may also cause behind knee pain. Your doctor will diagnose whether it is a knee sprain (overstretched ligaments) or a ligament tear.

Blood Clots Behind Knee

It is important to note that pain and swelling behind the knee may be associated with blood clots. Blood clots behind the knee are especially common for those on bed rest or prolonged laying down, recovering from surgery or who have experienced trauma to the knee. Age and weight may also be a factor in blood clots. If you are experiencing behind knee pain, see a doctor to diagnose your situation, especially as you may be experiencing a blood clot behind knee.

Diagnosing Behind Knee Pain

Your doctor will likely diagnose the cause of your pain behind the knee through one or more of the following assessments:

  • Medical history
  • Discussing your recent activities
  • MRI
  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound
  • Blood test

Treatment for Pain Behind the Knee

Behind knee pain treatment varies depending on the cause of the knee pain. Treatment may include:

Speak with your doctor to determine the best treatment for your behind knee pain.