Pain in Back of Knee: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Pain in Back of Knee: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What Causes Pain Behind The Knee?

There are many causes of pain in the back of the knee. While some are less serious and less common, others require more immediate medical attention. 

The knee is an intricate joint that takes a lot of impact every day from different activities. Knee damage can usually be reduced or prevented by avoiding unnecessary strain or impact on the joint. Pain management in the back of the knee will greatly vary based on the underlying cause.


Quick Facts About Pain in the Back of the Knee

  • There are many possible causes for pain in the back of the knee 
  • Early treatment for the pain will often involve keeping the injury from getting worse
  • In several cases, the pain might be caused by fatigue or failure to stretch before exercising


What are the Most Common Causes of Pain Behind the Knee?

It’s important to see a physician who can diagnose the pain you’re experiencing in the back of your knee since some of the causes will typically require a long-term treatment method to heal completely. 

Some of the most common possible causes of pain in the back of your knee include the following:


Leg Cramps

These are some of the most common causes of pain behind the knee. 

Cramps usually happen when the muscles become too tight. This kind of tightness might be caused by the fact that the muscle is working a lot more than needed without being stretched. In case the muscle is stretched and still cramps, it might be because it’s simply being overused. 

Overusing the knee affects the different areas surrounding it. The patient could experience cramping in the calf or the thigh close to the knee. 

In many cases, the sensation feels like a sudden, painful muscle spasm, and the pain could last for minutes or seconds and will range from severe to mild and merely uncomfortable. 

Other common causes of a leg cramp include:

  •   Infections such as tetanus
  •   Dehydration
  •   Nerve problems
  •   Excessive toxins in the blood
  •   Liver disease


Expectant or pregnant women might also experience leg cramps as a normal side effect of pregnancy.

If you often experience leg cramps, you may find relief by regularly stretching out your calves. You can also try to shorten your strides to exert less strain on your knee and its surrounding muscles. 


Baker’s Cyst

Baker’s cyst is a fluid pocket that develops when fluid builds up at the back of the knee, which causes pain and swelling. Nonetheless, Baker’s cysts might not be noticed immediately or when they form first since the small cysts will typically not cause any pain. But as the cysts continue to grow, they might shift the surrounding muscles and/or exert pressure on the nerves and tendons, which causes pain. 

Baker’s cysts might grow to sizes up to that of a tennis ball. Anyone with Baker’s cysts will often feel pressure at the back of their knee, which can cause a tingling sensation which usually happens when the cyst is hitting a nerve. 

In many cases, Baker’s cysts are not a major cause of concern, and effective treatment can easily relieve the symptoms. 



This is a condition that causes the wearing down of the cartilage in joints over time. Osteoarthritis is one condition that can easily lead to pain at the back of the knee. 

Osteoarthritis patients, especially those with one affecting the knee, may experience other symptoms, including loss of motion over time and difficulty when bending the knee. If inflammation occurs in the joint, it might make it painful and stiff. This discomfort could be felt elsewhere in an area surrounding the knee. 

Other forms of osteoarthritis that might cause pain include autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. 


Runner’s Knee

This is a condition that typically occurs when the cartilage in the knee is worn down. 

When this cartilage is worn out, it causes the bones of the knee to rub together. Usually, this leads to a dull, yet aching pain behind the knee, as the cartilage that helps prevent this is worn down in the knee joint. 

There are other symptoms of runner's knee, such as:

  •   General weakness in the leg and knee
  •   The knee randomly buckling or giving out 

Hamstring Strain

This is a strain or tear in one or more muscles at the back of the thigh. 

The muscles include:

  • semitendinosus
  • biceps femoris
  • semimembranosus

As a point to note, a strain in the hamstring usually occurs when one of the muscles listed above is pulled too far. It could tear entirely because of being pulled too much, and it could take a few months to heal completely. 

Hamstring injuries are more common among athletes who tend to run fast and in bursts, such as those playing tennis, basketball, soccer, or football. 

Meniscus Tear

The meniscus is a piece of cartilage located on either side of the knee. Twisting motions while bending the leg or squatting may tear the meniscus. Many people tend to hear a pop sound when they tear this cartilage. 

The pain from the tear might not show up at first but will worsen in the course of the next few days. Meniscus tears will often cause other symptoms including:

  •   Weakness and fatigue in the leg and knee
  •   Loss of knee motion
  •   The knee giving out or even locking up when being used
  •   Inflammation in the areas surrounding the knee 

Surgery might be necessary if the meniscus tear is severe or fails to heal on its own.


ACL Tear

The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is a band of tissue that is located at the front of the knee joint and connects the bones. Its main purpose is to keep the knee joint stable. 

The ACL can be strained, usually from sudden changes in direction or stops. Just as with the meniscus tears, ACL strains can cause a popping sound, which is followed by inflammation and pain. Tearing the ACL is a well known and serious injury which often sidelines an athlete for a long time. A torn ACL will usually require reconstructive surgery as treatment.  


PCL Injury

PCL injuries usually happen because of a traumatic injury. Surgery and restoration are often recommended as a treatment. 

The PCL (Posterior Circulate Ligament) connects the posterior intercondylar area of the tibia to the medial condyle of the femur. It plays a major role as the ACL, although it’s a lot less likely to get injured compared to the ACL. 

PCL injuries can happen during traumatic events, including things like falling directly onto the knee from a substantial height or being involved in a car accident. With enough force, the ligament could tear completely. 

The symptoms of PCL injuries include the following:

  •   Inflammation in the knee
  •   Knee pain
  •   Trouble walking
  •   Knee stiffness whenever bending it

A severe PCL injury might require surgery, while completely resting the knee could help ease a PCL strain.


Deep Vein Thrombosis

A thrombosis is a blood clot. DVT usually occurs when a clot occurs in a vein deep within the leg. Most people who suffer from DVT feel more pain while standing up. However, they might feel pain in their knee and leg at most times. 

Some of the other symptoms of DVT might include:

  •   Inflammation in the area
  •   Skin that’s warm or red to the touch
  •   Prominently visible surface veins
  •   Fatigue in the affected leg

There are a few risk factors for the DVT, which include being older, being overweight, and smoking. People who lead a sedentary lifestyle can also experience DVT. DVT requires effective medication and care since it could become more serious in case the clot breaks loose into the bloodstream. 


Treatment for Pain Behind the Knee

It’s always wise to ensure that the muscles surrounding the knee especially the calves, quads, and hamstrings are properly stretched. This might not protect the patient from some of the most traumatic causes of knee pain, but it might also help the muscles respond better to activity, daily or otherwise. 

The RICE treatment might also help to manage minor or moderate pain at the back of the knee. RICE is an acronym for:

Resting – leg

Icing – knee

Compression – of the area with an elastic bandage

Elevating – the injured leg

In so many cases, the RICE treatment can help to ease the symptoms including pain and inflammation. 

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are another effective way of easing pain and the inflammation while the knee recovers. Some of the NSAIDs like ibuprofen are available for online purchase. There are cases where the doctors might recommend steroid injections to help lower the symptoms. 

With certain injuries, especially the more serious ones, the doctor might use a CT or MRI to obtain a complete image of the affected area. They could suggest treatments including surgery or physical therapy, based on the severity. 



A perfect tool for helping with pain in the back of the knee is the new PSO-RITE.

PSO-RITE is the newest self massage tool on the market. Its patented design mimics the hand and elbow of a massage therapist.

What does the PSO-RITE do?

  • Increases circulation, relaxation and warmth to the muscles, and increases mobility. The PSO-RITE is used for muscle lengthening and joint decompression, which enhances physical performance. It also adds range of motion by releasing tension in the muscle allowing the joint to have more space, increasing mobility/movement.
  • What is releasing?  the cross link adhesions between the muscle fibers.
  • Increasing Capacity which will increase your Performance


Where do you use PSO-RITE?

  • Everywhere: Hip flexor, psoas, lower back, shoulder, neck etc.
  • Along any muscle

Here's a video demonstrating how it works and a few exercises you can do with it.


The Takeaway on Pain Behind on Knee 

Pain at the back of the knee can sometimes be a sign of a major issue. If you’re experiencing any severe symptoms lasting more than a few days, you should have it checked by a doctor. Following the treatment outlined by your doctor will give your injury the best chance of healing correctly and avoid any complications.

Pso-Rite devices can be very effective in loosening muscle tension. However, you should always discuss with a doctor your intention to use any of these devices to alleviate the pain.

  • Pso-Rite Massager and self massage tool that relieves tight muscles, tightness on the go.
  • Deep-tissue massage on demand. Available anytime you need it, anywhere you go.
  • Patented design mimics the hand and elbow. Think of it as a massage therapist you can access 24/7.
  • Versatile and precise. Targets deep, specific and difficult-to-access muscles.

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