Although knee pain is very common, it should never be taken lightly. Even minor pain and stiffness due to an overuse injury should be given the proper amount of rest and basic treatment. One type of specific pain that many patients report is pain in the back of the knee, also called posterior knee pain.
There can be a wide range of causes for back of knee pain, including muscle strains, benign cysts, ligament sprains, arthritis, and even blood clots. No matter what the cause is, you should never ignore pain in the back of your knee. The knee joint is carefully constructed to withstand tremendous forces and enable a wide range of motion, but it is also delicate enough that seemingly minor problems can worsen quickly.
Take a moment to read over the following overview of the potential consequences of untreated knee pain. The caring and compassionate staff at Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America (OJRCA) is here to help. Please feel free to reach out at any time for more information.
1. Back of Knee Pain Caused by Injury Can Often Worsen
Whether you work a physical job or live an active lifestyle, it can be all too tempting to just “push through the pain.” However, this can cost you in the long run. Injuries that cause back of knee pain can be a muscle strain, such as the hamstring, or a ligament sprain. Ignoring any of these seemingly less serious injuries can increase the risk of far more serious issues, such as a muscle tear or ruptured ligament.
By consulting with a medical professional, you can get a proper diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that promotes long-term knee health and the natural healing process.
2. It May be Related to a Cyst
Many patients with pain in the back of the knee are surprised to find out that the source of pain is a condition called a baker’s cyst. This is a benign, non cancerous sac that can grow in the back of the knee which is filled with synovial joint fluid. Patients with knee injuries or arthritis are at a higher risk for this injury due to a buildup of joint fluid. Although they can go away on their own in some cases, it is important to determine the cause of the cyst and treat it promptly to avoid it worsening, or find out if it is related to another condition.
3. It’s Important to Find the Source of Pain
On a broader level, it is important to address the underlying cause of any knee pain that does not improve in a short period of time. For example, recurring injuries could be related to a mechanical issue that a physical therapist can help address. Addressing this early on can reduce your risk of developing long-term knee problems in the future.
4. Back of Knee Pain Could be a Progressive Condition Like Arthritis
Arthritis is joint inflammation that causes pain, stiffness and grinding sensations. The most common form is called osteoarthritis, and is related to the natural breakdown of cartilage that causes increased bone on bone contact and joint damage. Because it can happen in any joint, and any part of the joint, one sign of knee arthritis could be back of the knee pain.
Because it is progressive in nature, diagnosing and treating arthritis as early as possible in the treatment process is essential. Although it is not reversible, taking an active approach to treatment can give you the best chance of maintaining a good quality of life over the years.
5. Ignoring Knee Pain Can Start a Negative Cycle of Inactivity
The knee requires strong surrounding muscles and connective tissue to support it. It is also sensitive to extra weight. If you have back of knee pain that becomes chronic, it can lead to a sedentary lifestyle that can have negative consequences for the knee. People with posterior knee pain who become inactive can experience muscle atrophy. They can also be at increased risk for weight gain. One or both of these forces can lead to increased knee joint problems that make it even more difficult to be mobile.
Committing yourself to treatment from the outset is the best way to ensure knee joint health on a long-term basis.
6. Chronic Back of Knee Pain Could Negatively Affect Your Job and Activity Level
If you work in a physical job or are physically active, dealing with recurring or chronic knee pain can take you away from your livelihood and/or your favorite exercises or sports. By working closely with a treatment team to identify and address back of the knee pain, patients can get back to work or get back in action with reduced risk of reinjury or chronic pain developing.
7. It Can Also Impact Your Relationships and Mental Health
Chronic pain of any kind can be isolating. If you aren’t able to perform the activities you once were able to, it can affect your social life. Pain can make people irritable, or make people want to avoid contact entirely. Similar to inactivity, getting into a state of depression or anxiety as a result of pain can make it that much harder to seek treatment and find relief. Which in turn can worsen your mental health.
In contrast, taking control of your treatment from the outset can help patients feel empowered and stay on top of knee pain, regardless of the location or cause.
8. Whether It’s Surgical or Conservative Care, Proactive Treatment is Important
In nearly any situation, the earlier you seek knee pain treatment the better. For cases of back of knee pain that can be treated conservatively, fully exploring these options can offer the best prospect of not needing future surgery. In addition to physical therapy and pain-relieving injections, many patients also explore treatments such as viscosupplementation, platelet-rich plasma or amniotic injections. And if you have back of the knee pain that is related to a ligament tear or other issue requiring surgery, not putting it off can be the best choice for your future activity level.
In situations where severe joint damage is the source of pain, and conservative therapies have been exhausted, partial or total knee joint replacement surgery can become a serious consideration. If this is the case, postponing or delaying surgery can result in unnecessary years of diminished quality of life.
No matter where you are in the treatment journey for back of the knee pain, the OJRCA team is here to help. From therapeutic injections to state-of-the-art outpatient knee replacement surgery, our goal is to help you develop an effective treatment plan that is right for your needs and lifestyle. Contact us today to learn more.