What is Causing Your Pain Behind the Knee – Posterior Knee Pain?

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Knee pain, including posterior knee pain (or pain in the back of the knee) is a common complaint of patients visiting doctors for muscle and joint pain. The knee is a complex joint composed of tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones. Injury to any of these parts can result in pain that may last for a few excruciating seconds or much longer. One of the following could be the culprit causing the posterior knee pain that you’ve been dealing with lately. posterior knee pain PCL Ligament Tear A tear in the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) is a fairly common sports injury. The PCL acts as a stabilizer, preventing excessive twisting or hyperextension (straightening) of the knee. It also prevents the backward movement of the tibia on the femur. Damage to the ligaments can occur when too much strain is placed on the PCL causing it to tear. This can happen during rapid changes in direction when engaged in sports like football or downhill skiing. Aside from pain behind the knee (which can range from mild to severe), symptoms of a PCL tear may include swelling and stiffness, as well as instability or the inability to bear weight on the injured knee. Rupture or Inflammation of the Hamstring Tendons An unexpected pain in the back of the knee that is sharp and intense and occurs almost immediately after a sudden movement could actually be indicative of damage to your hamstrings. The pain could radiate to the back of the thigh or down the leg; bruising and swelling will also be evident. The injured area will be tender and sore to the touch and it will not be easy to bend the knee.  Usually, activities like standing or walking unassisted will be also difficult. Osteoarthritis A common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis causes the thinning of the cartilage between the bones in the joints. It typically occurs in weight-bearing joints such as knees, hips and spine; but sometimes osteoarthritis can also affect the fingers, elbows and shoulders. It occurs more commonly in people over the age of 50, although it can develop in younger people as well. Osteoarthritis causes a deep ache in the joints (as opposed to a stabbing pain) and can severely inhibit the movement of the affected area. Crepitus, the grinding noise that joints make when in motion, is another symptom of osteoarthritis. This condition can also affect the appearance of the joint. Thinning cartilage between the bones cause them to harden and thicken resulting in osteophytes (bone growth) that gives the joint a knobby appearance. Baker’s Cyst Also known as a popliteal cyst, the Baker’s cyst is a small fluid-filled pocket that is often felt as a lump. The cyst is formed when excess joint fluid is trapped in a small tissue sac behind the knee. Although it does not usually cause extreme pain, there will be a tightness or stiffness behind the knee as well as some swelling in the region. The pain may increase when the knee is bent or straightened all the way. A Baker’s cyst is often the result of some other ailment (such as rheumatoid arthritis). It can also be the result of an injury. In Conclusion Only a trained and experienced orthopedic specialist can determine the cause of your  posterior knee pain and prescribe an appropriate procedure and treatment regimen. For any questions or concerns you may have regarding pain in the back of the knee, contact us to schedule your appointment with Dr. Armin Tehrany.