Don’t Let Pain in the Back of the Knee Keep You from Physical Activity

Don’t Let Pain in the Back of the Knee Keep You from Physical Activity

Athletes and active individuals are often curious about what causes pain in the back of the knee.

Since the knee is a complex joint made up of bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles, back of the knee pain can be a symptom of a number of conditions and injuries. Consulting with an orthopedic physician can help determine a diagnosis and provide personalized treatment.

At OrthoAspen, our fellowship-trained orthopedic doctors are renowned for their personalized, precision diagnosis and treatment. We have a team dedicated to evaluating a diverse range of knee injuries and conditions. The ultimate goal is to provide a safe return to the activities and sports for which our Roaring Fork patients are accustomed.

Learn more about the potential causes of pain in the back of the knee.

Five Possible Reasons for Pain in the Back of the Knee

Healthy knees are essential for life in Aspen. Whether cycling to the Maroon Bells or hiking the Ute Trail, or simply enjoying one of the other endless activities this area has to offer, pain in the back of the knee simply doesn’t jive with a life propelled by motion.

Some people may avoid seeking help for knee pain in fear of what a diagnosis may yield. Delaying a consultation with an orthopedic specialist may worsen a condition and prolong an absence from your favorite activities. At OrthoAspen, our dedicated sports medicine and knee specialists utilize their extensive expertise along with state-of-the-art technology to swiftly obtain a diagnosis to enable an effective, personalized treatment plan.

Take a look at some of the most commonly treated orthopedic conditions associated with back of the knee pain symptoms:

  1. Posterolateral Corner Injury
    Posterolateral corner (PLC) injury can produce pain in the back and outside of the knee. Between 20% and 30% of patients with this type of injury have combined anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) trauma and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injuries. Treatment for posterolateral corner injury varies depending on the patient’s knee instability. Grade I and II PLC injuries can typically be treated with conservative methods. Grade III diagnosed PLC injury may require arthroscopic surgical intervention to heal properly.
  2. An X-ray image shows the posterior/back of the knee highlighted in red to illustrate pain in the back of the knee.Baker’s Cyst
    Baker’s cysts are often linked with other knee conditions and disorders such as osteoarthritis and meniscus tears. Patients often experience pain in the back of the knee when straightening the leg. Orthopedic physicians typically apply conservative treatment methods for Baker’s cysts. Surgical intervention may be recommended if non-surgical rehabilitation isn’t successful.
  3. Tendinopathy (Gastrocnemius and Popliteus)
    Unlike patellar tendinopathy, also known as “Runner’s Knee,” gastrocnemius and popliteus tendinopathy produce pain behind the knee versus pain in the front of the knee. Gastrocnemius tendinopathy causes inflammation of the calf muscle. This causes a patient to feel pain behind the knee and calf. Popliteus, a small muscle at the back of the knee can cause acute or gradual pain behind the knee (often as a result of a twisting injury). Conservative treatment methods will often be recommended for back of the knee treatment of tendinopathy.
  4. Hamstring Tendon Strain
    The biceps femoris hamstring muscle connects to the back of the knee. When this central muscle becomes strained, one of the most common symptoms is pain behind knee after sitting for long periods of time. Patients may also experience swelling and tenderness at the time of injury, combined with a sharp pain in the back of the knee. Non-surgical treatment is often prescribed for a hamstring tendon strain.
  5. Knee Osteoarthritis
    Osteoarthritis is a result of knee joint corrosion. Over time, activity and sports can produce wear and tear to the joints. Pain, swelling and restricted mobility are common symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Many non-surgical treatment options are available to help alleviate pain in the back of the knee. Surgery may be recommended when conservative treatment hasn’t helped to diminish pain or improve the mobility of the knee.

Personalized Care Matters

At OrthoAspen, our knee specialists utilize the most advanced approaches in specialized orthopedic care. In addition to localized pain in the back of the knee, our knee team treats a variety of other knee conditions and injuries, which include:

If you’re experiencing any knee pain or other symptoms of discomfort, don’t wait. Get the personalized care you deserve at OrthoAspen. Schedule an appointment now, or contact us today at 970-544-1289 for any questions.


Visit OrthoAspen in two convenient locations
Aspen Clinic
Aspen Valley Hospital
0401 Castle Creek Rd., Suite 2100,

Aspen, CO 81611
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400
Basalt Clinic
Midvalley Medical Center
1450 E. Valley Rd., Suite 201,

Basalt, CO 81621
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400