Pain Behind Knee – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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The knee is one of the most complex and largest joints in the human body. A joint so difficult in structure and crucial in living a comfortable and active life is bound to hurt sometimes. Usual pain in back of knee is easy to relieve with some over-the-counter pain relief ointments and gels; however, recurring pain behind the knee may be a symptom of an underlying serious knee problem.  

Pain behind the knee can largely affect the ability to walk, run, or even carry out the daily chores. Moreover, pain in the back of the knee adversely affects one's sleep schedule. This throbbing pain behind the knee is called "posterior knee pain," developing slowly or suddenly over time due to an injury.  

Symptoms of Severe Pain Behind Knee 

1. Types of pain 

One may experience various pain, including sharp pain behind the knee, dull knee ache, or burning sensation in the knee. The gradual or sudden pain behind knee might be constant or occur when the weight is put on the leg, or the knee is bent. Often, this sharp stabbing pain in knee comes and goes.  

2. Swelling behind knee 

Throbbing pain behind the knee can be characterized by swelling, inability to bend the knee, or popping out of the knee. These symptoms are often an indicator of a knee injury but may have other reasons too. 

3. Redness in the Knee 

The back of the knee can also look red or often feel hot to the touch. One may have a fever that may hint at a different health condition. 

What causes Pain Behind the Knee? 

Several conditions cause pain behind the knee, such as a muscle tear, tendon or ligament injury, nerve damage, and blood clots. These conditions are manageable and heal soon if treated in the early stages. However, there can be more serious causes behind knee pain. Some of them are -  

1. Popliteal Bursitis 

The most common and probable cause of pain behind the knee is Popliteal Bursitis or Baker’s Cyst, which develops when fluid in the knee joint seeps out into the popliteal bursa causing it to swell. Bursa is the closed, fluid-filled sac working as a cushion and gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues of the body. The symptoms of a Bakers Cyst include tightness behind knee and stinging pain in back of knee, which can often get worse while walking, kneeling, or bending the knee. 

Treatment for popliteal bursitis is focused on reducing the swelling and pain behind the knee, and in severe cases, the fluid may be required to be drained by a doctor. 

2. Ligament Sprain 

A ligament sprain can also lead to stinging pain behind knee. Ligaments sprain when overstretched or sudden force is applied. A sprain in the knee can also cause twisting movements, for instance, a quick pivoting when running in studs. The most common symptoms of a ligament sprain include knee pain, instability, swelling, bruising, and pain behind knee when bent that lead to knee stiffness and difficulty walking. 

3. Posterior Cartilage Tear 

The cartilage is a white, gristle-like substance covering the ends. Cartilage can tear in almost any joint and is the most common cause of leg pain in active people. Torn cartilage can cause long-term issues if not treated adequately when the injury occurs. The aches behind knee due to a cartilage tear worsens when running, walking, climbing stairs, and squatting.  

4. Calf Tear 

The nerve pain behind the knee experienced in the lower calf region can be due to damage and tearing of the calf muscles. Calf strains normally happen during rigorous and quick activity, such as changing speed or direction when running. When the calf muscles are over-stretched or torn can lead to swelling and pain in the back of the knee. Additionally, the symptoms of a calf tear worsen when walking or running (on tiptoes). 

5. Knee Arthritis 

Stinging pain on the inside of the knee in older adults is a sign of osteoarthritis. Knee arthritis can lead to gradual wear and tear in the knee bones and cartilage. It may affect one or both sides of the joint and can result in bones rubbing on one another. Symptoms of knee arthritis may include knee stiffness and pain, restricted knee mobility clicking, and grinding noises. These symptoms get worse during cold and wet weather. 

6. Hamstring Injuries 

Hamstring injuries usually happen during sports. The knee pain behind the back may also be caused due to tearing of a hamstring muscle developed when the muscles are overstretched, causing some muscle fibers to tear. The symptoms of a hamstring tear include sharp pain followed by a dull aching sensation which gets worsened when bending the knee. Doing gentle hamstring strengthening exercises can alleviate the pain. 

Treating the Reason Behind the Knee Pain 

Which treatment is apt for the pain behind the knee depends on the cause. Once it is clear what is the reason for the knee pain, here are some treatment measures one can use to curb the throbbing pain behind the knee. 

1. Reducing the Swelling 

The swollen back of the knee can potentially engrave the situation. Therefore, it is essential to reduce the swelling as soon as possible. Calf Compression Sleeves and knee sleeves help reduce the swelling and inflammation of the knee and quickly heal the knee pain. 

The Thermoskin Elastic Stabilising Knee Sleeve is designed to contour to the shape of the knee to enhance the range of movement. The unique side stabilizers provide increased medial and lateral support on either side of the knee support. The Knee Sleeve is anatomically designed and seamless for even compression and support to weakened and injured knees, and the seamless design also minimizes bunching. 


2. Improve Knee Stability 

Patellar stabilization allows the kneecap to stay stable while one works through the daily chores. Knee braces can also help reduce pain by shifting the weight off the area experiencing pain in the back of the knee. 

The DonJoy Tru-Pull Lite Knee Brace is perfect for people with mild subluxation, mal-tracking, and patella arthritis. The Dual Durometer Buttress System interfaces directly with the knee skin and provides consistent corrective force to the patella. 


3. Relieve the Pain in the Back of the Knee 

 There are many different ways to relieve knee pain, such as using over-the-counter pain relief gels and ointments and administering medicines. However, a knee support brace is often considered one of the safest and most effective ways of providing support to the knee and relieving the throbbing pain in the back of the knee. Knee support braces for osteoarthritis provide an extra dimension of relief from painful and weak knees. 

The Cho-Pat Dual Action Knee Strap offers full mobility, maximum support, and pain relief. The construction of the Cho-Pat Double Action Brace applies constant dynamic forces to the surrounding areas of the knee, reducing the likelihood of muscle overuse. 


Pain behind the knee does not necessarily mean the problem lies in the knee itself. It can be an indication of a more complex or serious health ailment. The best person to examine and treat the symptoms is a medical practitioner. Therefore, to accurately diagnose the cause of the pain behind the knee please consult a doctor.  


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