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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

5 Common Causes for Pain Behind Knee (Watch Out for These Symptoms)

Knee pain is one of the most common ailments that affect people of all ages. There are various types and causes of knee pain. This article discusses the possible causes and symptoms of a common pain experienced behind the knee, especially when straightening the leg.

Symptoms of Pain on Inside of the Knee

The symptoms mentioned below are common symptoms that are accompanied by pain in the back of the knees.

They include:

  1. Swelling behind the knees

  2. Lump behind the knees

  3. Cracking joint or knees

  4. Locked knees

  5. Fluid buildup inside the knees

  6. Decreased range of motion

  7. Stiffness

Knee pain

Image credit: Pixabay

Common Causes for Pain Behind Knees

Here are 6 common causes of back of knee pain:

  1. Arthritis A condition where the bone, or in this specific case the knee joint and cartilage, starts to gradually degenerate, get worn out, and become brittle.

The two most common types of arthritis are:

  1. Osteoarthritis: The gradual breakdown of bones and cartilages that is usually triggered by old age.

  2. Rheumatoid arthritis: It is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system fails to recognize its own body cells and starts to attack the joint cells

Other types of arthritis that causes pain at the back of the knee are Lupus and psoriatic arthritis.

  1. Blood Clot Quite often pain, discomfort, or swelling behind the knees could also be caused by blood clots.

One of the most common conditions is known as DVT or Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), where a blood clot is formed in a deep vein inside the leg and blocks the blood flow, thus blocking the oxygen and nutrients.

The pain experienced is most significant when one is straightening the leg or standing up.

Detection and dissolution of the clot by blood thinners is highly crucial as if the clot breaks free and travels to the lungs, it could be fatal.

Besides back of the knee pain, other symptoms include:

  1. Swelling

  2. Raised temperature around the area

  3. Red or purple skin

knee pain-blood clot

Blood clot, Image credits: Wikimedia commons

  1. Baker’s Cysts

This condition is one of the most common causes of pain behind the knees.

Our body has fluid sac-like structure throughout the body that helps lubricate and protect our body parts as we move by providing cushion and are filled with synovial fluid.

Such sacs are known as bursa and the popliteal bursa is present behind the knees.

Baker’s cysts is a condition where the popliteal bursa becomes inflamed due to extra fluid build-up which forms cysts.

Other symptoms include:

  1. Pain inside the knee

  2. Trouble flexible inside the knee

  3. Stiffness and swelling

  4. Sharp pain when the cysts burst

  5. Pain gets worse if physical activity is continued.

  1. Hamstring Injury or Cramp

Essentially, your hamstrings are muscular structures that allow your knees to bend. They consist of three muscles that run through the back of your thigh.

The hamstring consists of a trio of muscles that run down the back of your thigh:

  1. Semitendinosus muscle

  2. Semimembranosus muscle

  3. Biceps femoris muscle

Thus, injury to either or all of these muscles is known as a hamstring injury.

Kneepain-Pulled hamsting

Image credits: Wikimedia commons

Besides, back of the knee pain, other symptoms include:

  1. Bruising or out purple skin

  2. Swelling

  3. Sudden, tense, and sharp pain

  4. Tenderness

  5. Popping or tearing sensation

This commonly occurs when the hamstring muscles are stretched too far or wrongly and thus, is a very common injury for athletes.

One way to significantly reduce the chances of a hamstring pull or tear is to stretch before performing any outdoor activity

  1. Meniscus Tear

The joints in your knees are protected from friction, cushioned, and stabilized by a cartilage structure known as a meniscus which is present on the two ends of the bones that make up a knee joint.

Sometimes, this cartilage structure can disintegrate, weaken, or degenerate due to factors like rapid motion or old age.

This condition is known as a “Meniscus tear” and the most significant symptoms of the “popping” or “cracking sounds” from the knees.

Other symptoms include:

  1. Swelling

  2. Locked knees

  3. Restricted movement

  4. Weakness

The cartilage usually heals on its own with rest, but in some cases, surgery may be required to repair the damaged cartilage.

Kneepain- Meniscus Tear

Treatment, Image Credits: Needpix

Back of Knee Pain Treatment

There are various forms of treatment for this condition, depending on the cause and extent of the pain.

They include:

  1. Surgery

  2. Using a knee brace

  3. OTC medications to reduce inflammation

  4. Physical or physiotherapy

  5. Making lifestyle changes like reducing intensive activity, talking rest, routine compression, etc

  6. Cortisone injections

  7. Exercise and weight loss


There are different types of causes of pain behind the knees and most have similar accompanying symptoms. However, pain due to some causes may go away on it’s own while others may not. Therefore, it is very important to consult your healthcare specialist.

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