What PT can do to help the pain behind your knee

leg pain behind knee

When your leg is in pain, it can be difficult to do even the simplest movements, like walking up stairs or sitting down in a chair. If you feel an ache in any part of your leg, such as behind the knee, it can be tempting to just stay off your feet as much as possible. But, unfortunately, life’s responsibilities don’t stop when you’re in pain. 

If you’re feeling leg pain behind your knee, it can interfere with your overall quality of life. The good news is that there are a variety of treatment options that can alleviate the ache and restore your mobility, such as physical therapy. There are many physical therapy techniques that can help leg pain behind your knee.

Read on to learn about possible reasons you’re experiencing pain behind the knee, how physical therapy can help and the potential techniques that may help.

Causes of leg pain behind the knee

When you think about knee pain, your mind probably immediately jumps to an issue with the front of your knee, particularly the patella, known as the kneecap. But it’s also possible to experience an ache behind your knee. 

Pain behind the knee is often associated with symptoms such as stiffness, instability and swelling.

There are a few injuries or medical conditions that can result in leg pain behind your knee, including: 

  • ACL injury — Your anterior cruciate ligament is located in the middle of your knee and connects the shinbone to the thighbone. It’s possible to tear the ACL due to abruptly changing directions or landing awkwardly after a jump, making it a common sports injury. An ACL injury can cause pain behind the knee, especially while walking.

  • Sciatica — There’s a nerve that runs from your lower back and down the back of both legs, called the sciatic nerve. If this nerve becomes pinched from a herniated disc or bone spur, it can cause radiating pain where the nerve runs behind the knee, as well as weak reflexes and numbness.

  • Baker’s cyst — It’s possible for a fluid-filled sac known as a Baker’s cyst to develop behind your knee due to a buildup of fluid from torn cartilage or arthritis. While it often starts off small, the swelling can cause it to grow to the size of a tennis ball, reducing your knee’s range of motion.

How physical therapy can help leg pain behind the knee

Knee pain of any kind can interfere with your day-to-day responsibilities, which is why you should explore potential treatment options, such as physical therapy. Not only can a physical therapist reduce the pain behind your knee, they can also improve the joint’s overall quality and function.

By seeking out the help of a physical therapist for the leg pain behind your knee, you can:

  • Learn the probable cause of your pain.
  • Alleviate your knee pain.
  • Reduce associated symptoms, such as swelling.
  • Improve the strength and flexibility of the affected muscles.
  • Increase range of motion.
  • Decrease the risk of future pain and injury.

Physical therapy techniques to treat leg pain behind the knee

Now that we’ve discussed how physical therapy can help your leg pain behind the knee, it’s time to dive into the particular techniques that a physical therapist may recommend. After an initial evaluation of your pain and related symptoms, a physical therapist will pick several techniques for your pain based on the cause as well as your physical ability and medical history.

Here are a few techniques that your physical therapist may recommend for leg pain behind the knee:

  • Stretches — Your physical therapist will help you perform safe and effective stretches that will increase your knee’s flexibility and overall mobility. Stretching your knee will help reduce the muscle tightness in the affected area to reduce tension and increase your range of motion.

  • Muscle performance exercises — Strengthening your knee muscles goes a long way in improving your stability and decreasing the pressure placed on the knee joint and surrounding nerves. Your physical therapist will show you strengthening exercises to improve your knee’s function and reduce the risk of future injury.

  • Soft tissue mobilization — One of the most effective pain management techniques is manual therapy, which involves the physical therapist using their hands on the affected area. For pain behind your knee, the therapist may use massage-like movements to release tension from scar tissue and reduce fluid buildup from issues like a Baker’s cyst.

Whatcom Physical Therapy can show you techniques to help leg pain behind your knee

If you’re experiencing persistent or worsening leg pain behind your knee, then it’s time to see how PT can help alleviate your symptoms. At Whatcom Physical Therapy, we have techniques that can be personalized to the severity and cause of your symptoms.

Call us or request an appointment today so we can start tackling your leg pain together.