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What causes the pain in the back of my knee?

Pain in the back of the knee can be caused by a variety of factors. Some are less dangerous and more prevalent, while others require emergency medical intervention.

pain in the back of the knee
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The knee is a complicated joint that receives a lot of stress from even routine movements. By avoiding collision and tension on the joint, people may typically decrease or prevent knee injuries.

The treatment for back-of-the-knee discomfort varies widely depending on the reason.

The causes

When it comes to diagnosing pain in the back of the knee, it’s important to work closely with a doctor since certain causes require long-term therapy to heal entirely.

The following are some of the probable causes of back-of-the-knee pain.

Leg cramps

When muscles become overly tight, cramps occur. It’s possible that the muscle is tight because it’s performing too much effort without being stretched. If it still cramps after stretching, the muscle may be overworked.

Different parts of the knee might be affected by overuse syndrome. A person suffering from this condition may also have a cramp in the thigh or calf around the knee.

The sensation is similar to a sharp, severe muscular spasm. The pain might last a few seconds or minutes, and it can be mild to severe.

Leg cramps can also be caused by the following factors:

  • excess toxins in the blood
  • nerve problems
  • dehydration
  • infections, such as tetanus
  • liver disease

Leg cramps are a common side effect of pregnancy for pregnant people.

Leg cramps can be relieved for some people by stretching their calves on a regular basis. They might also try decreasing their stride to relieve pressure on the knee and surrounding muscles.

Baker’s cyst

A Baker’s cyst is a fluid-filled pocket at the back of the knee that causes pain and swelling.

Small cysts do not usually cause pain, therefore Baker’s cysts may go unnoticed at first. However, when the cyst expands, it may cause pain by shifting surrounding muscles or putting pressure on tendons and nerves.

Baker’s cysts can grow as large as a table tennis ball. Baker’s cysts produce pressure in the back of the knee, which might result in tingling if the cyst is encroaching on a nerve.

Baker’s cysts are usually not a reason for worry, although they can be treated to alleviate the symptoms.


Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cartilage in the joints deteriorates over time. This condition can easily result in back-of-the-knee pain.

Other symptoms of osteoarthritis in the knee include decreased range of motion and difficulties bending the knee. The joint may become tight and painful due to inflammation. This soreness may also be felt in other areas surrounding the knee.

Autoimmune disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are other types of arthritis that can cause pain.

Runner’s knee

The wear and tear on the cartilage in the knee joint is known as runner’s knee. The bones of the knee rub together when the cartilage is gone. This usually causes in a dull, agonizing pain below the knee.

Other signs and symptoms of runner’s knee are:

  • a crackling or grinding feeling when the knee bends
  • Hamstring injury
  • weakness in the knee and leg
  • restricted movement in the leg and knee
  • the knee giving out or buckling randomly

Hamstring injury

A hamstring injury occurs when one or more of the muscles at the rear of the thigh are torn or strained. These muscles include the following:

  • the semimembranosus
  • the semitendinosus
  • the biceps femoris

When the muscle pulls too far, it causes a hamstring strain. It may entirely rupture as a result of being tugged too hard, and it might take months to properly recover.

Athletes that run fast and in spurts, such as those who play basketball, tennis, or football, may be more prone to hamstring problems.

Meniscus tears

On either side of the knee, the meniscus is a piece of cartilage. This cartilage can be torn by twisting actions while squatting or bending the leg. When a maniscus tears, many people hear a pop.

The pain from a torn meniscus may not be noticeable at first, but it usually intensifies over the next few days.

Other symptoms associated with meniscus tears include:

  • swelling around the knee
  • the knee giving out or locking up when used
  • loss of knee motion
  • weakness and fatigue in the knee and leg

If a meniscus tear is serious and does not heal on its own, surgery may be required.

Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a band of tissue that runs through the front of the knee joint, connecting the bones and assisting in the stabilization of the joint.

ACL strains are frequently caused by abrupt pauses or changes in direction. A strain in the ACL can generate a popping sound, followed by pain and swelling, similar to meniscus tears.

A torn ACL is a common and dangerous injury that can keep an athlete out for a long time. ACL tears frequently necessitate reconstruction surgery.

Injuries to the posterior cruciate ligament

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) serves a comparable function to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), however it is less prone to be damaged.

PCL injuries can occur as a result of stressful occurrences like falling straight onto the knee from a great height or being involved in a car accident. The ligament may fully rip if enough power is applied.

Symptoms of PCL injury include:

  • difficulty walking
  • swelling in the knee
  • knee pain
  • stiffness in the knee if bending

Resting the knee completely may aid in the healing of a PCL strain. A serious PCL injury, on the other hand, may necessitate surgery.

Deep vein thrombosis

A blood clot is a thrombosis, and a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a clot forms deep within the leg veins.

When people with DVT get up, they often experience additional pain. Some people, though, may experience leg and knee pain all of the time.

Other signs and symptoms of DVT include:

  • fatigue in the affected leg
  • prominently visible surface veins
  • skin that is red or warm to the touch
  • swelling in the area

Excess weight, becoming older, and smoking are all risk factors for DVT. People who live sedentary lifestyles are more prone to get DVT.

DVT need medicine and attention, as the clot might grow more dangerous if it breaks free and enters the bloodstream.


It’s usually a good idea to make sure the muscles around the knee are stretched appropriately, especially the quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings. This may not protect against some of the more severe causes of knee pain, but it may improve the muscles’ ability to react to activities.

When an injury occurs, doctors frequently suggest the RICE therapy to help reduce pain and swelling. RICE is an acronym for:

  • Resting (the leg)
  • Icing (the knee)
  • Compressing (the area with an elastic bandage)
  • Elevating (the injured leg)

The RICE therapy can help relieve pain and swelling in many circumstances. Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who invented the phrase in 1978, has subsequently claimed that ice treatments might cause injury healing to be delayed. People should speak with a doctor or physical therapist to determine which treatment option is best for them.

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines) are another option for reducing pain and swelling as the knee heals. Some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen.

A doctor may prescribe steroid injections to alleviate symptoms in some circumstances.

Doctors may use an MRI scan or a CT scan to gain a thorough view of the region with more significant injuries. Depending on the severity of the condition, they may recommend physical therapy or surgery.


Back of the knee pain can sometimes be a sign of a more serious problem. Anyone who has severe symptoms or symptoms that continue more than a few days should seek medical attention.

Following a doctor’s treatment plan can help ensure that the injury heals properly and without problems.



Obianuju Chukwu

She has a degree in pharmacy and has worked in the field as a pharmacist in a hospital. Teaching, blogging, and producing scientific articles are some of her interests. She enjoys writing on various topics relating to health and medicine, including health and beauty-related natural treatments, the nutritional worth of various foods, and mental wellness.