Help For Pain Behind The Knee

Health & FitnessMedicine

  • Author Dr. Dan Levesque, Dc
  • Published December 31, 2020
  • Word count 825

Knee pain is extremely common and there are many people who suffer with it. Surprisingly, even more complain of knee pain in a specific location…. Behind the knee! Yes, there are many condition that cause knee pain in the medial or lateral sides, deep inside the joint or under the knee cap. However it seems one of the most common complaints is pain behind or in back of the knee. If you’re a posterior knee pain sufferer yourself or just want to help someone you know with pain behind the knee, keep reading this article to learn some of the causes and helpful guidance for treatment options.

People who suffer with pain behind the knee are generally at the end of their rope when they finally show up at the doctor’s office. This condition is as common as it is debilitating and many posterior knee pain patients have similar complaints. While relentless pain in back of the knee is common amongst all, most sufferers differ in when/how they get the pain. Some can’t fully straighten their knee, yet others have more pain when bending it a certain degree. Most have trouble with stairs, with the majority having the worst pain behind the knee when going down. Few posterior knee pain patients can run, while many have interruptions or inability with prolonged walking. Many also have trouble with pain and swelling behind the knee at night.

Pain behind the knee can come from several different causes. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather a place to get started and some important bases to cover. A proper diagnosis is extremely important as it will dictate the type of treatment; the wrong diagnosis often sends many patients into the wrong direction, ending up with unnecessary medication and surgeries that cause more harm than good. Here are some of the causes of pain behind the knee or in back of the knee joint….

  1. Baker’s Cyst – this is a fluid filled sac that develops behind the knee, in the soft tissue in back of the knee joint. These can grow to as big as a golfball for some, however is usually the size of a jumbo marble for most; they are often asymptomatic. Baker’s Cysts are fairly common but few cause pain behind the knee or much disruption. Many patients have Baker’s Cysts and never even know it. In symptomatic cases, patients complain of stiffness and pain upon bending the knee, sometimes pain with straightening, but rarely cause trouble with walking/running. Baker’s cysts are considered benign and removal is often not recommended unless causing severe pain. When they do have to be removed, the surgery is not considered simple however arthroscopy can sometimes be used.

  2. Neuritis – this is an inflammation of a peripheral nerve. It occurs frequently when nerves are pinched from spinal misalignments. Sometimes inflammation will build in sections of a pinched nerve and cause symptoms in these areas, for example behind the knee. Neuritis from a pinched nerve in the spine is as common as it is a frequent cause of many sufferers of posterior knee pain.

  3. Misalignment of the knee joint – This mostly occurs from hyperextension injuries but also repetitive motions and degenerative arthritis. Unlike a Baker’s Cyst, misalignments causing pain in back of the knee usually give symptoms when locking or straightening, not bending. Patients with this problem also commonly have pain going down stairs, rather than up.

  4. Degeneration of the knee joint – Osteoarthritis is the slow wear and tear of the knee joint. After a certain amount of deterioration, different areas of the knee may have pain; in back of the joint is one of the areas. Usually pain from osteoarthritis/bone on bone knee conditions are when upright, getting up from sitting or at night. Deterioration of the knee joint may also cause reduced range of motion and pain behind the knee can occur from bending as well.


While surgery may be the only way out if pain behind the knee is coming from a Baker’s Cyst, take heed a word of caution before jumping into treatment. In many cases a Baker’s Cyst may show on x-ray/exam however is asymptomatic, while the pain is coming from a neuritis. Beware of traditional medical practitioners who fail to rule out pinched nerve causes first and rush into surgery; an accurate diagnosis is paramount to receiving the correct treatment.

Severe pain in back of the knee caused by a misalignment or neuritis is best handled by a good chiropractor who has experience in treatment of extremities. If posterior knee pain is the result of degenerative arthritis, regenerative medicine shows the greatest promise for not only pain relief but also improving joint space. Human tissue cellular allograft injections directly into bone on bone joints is providing many patients with restoration of function and new options for alternatives to joint replacement surgery.

Hi, I’m Dr. Dan Levesque, DC from Solutions Integrated Medicine in Elizabethton, TN. Using state of the art regenerative medicine, we see excellent results with patients who suffer from pain behind the knee and severe bone on bone osteoarthritis. If you have posterior knee pain and have questions or would like to make an appointment, please call or contact us!

Posterior knee pain

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