Tightness Behind Knee: Causes and Remedies

Feeling tightness behind knee is a common sensation that may be minor or indicates a serious underlying issue. There are many reasons for this condition and the treatment you receive depends on the cause. The tightness can improve by itself, but you may need surgery or physical therapy. There are also exercises for relieving the discomfort. Read on to find out more.

Possible Causes of Tightness Behind Knee

1. Baker’s Cyst

A lump at the back of your knee could be due to Baker’s cyst which can be caused by torn cartilage or fluid accumulation around the knee. Baker’s cyst is alleviated by treating the underlying cause, as well as draining the knee with a syringe or needle. You’ll be advised to rest your knee and use ice packs to ease the swelling.

2. ACL or PCL Injury

Rough play, awkward landings, pivoting and side-stepping can cause anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture. Following an ACL tear, patients feel intense knee pain which persists during walking, running and bending the knee.

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) controls how far you can bend your knee. It is the primary stabilizing ligament within the knee. Injury to the PCL often causes the knee to stiffen and swell.

3. Pulled Hamstring

Sports commonly lead to thigh muscle strain or injury, causing tightness behind knee. This injury can also be due to poor conditioning, tightness, fatigue or imbalance in the muscles.

4. An Arthritic Origin

Osteoarthritis, degeneration of the knee joint, is one of the main reasons for disability in patients over 65, who may experience joint pain or stiffness. The condition is often linked with Baker’s cyst.

Exercises to Relieve Tightness Behind Knee

1. Wall Stretches

Lie down with your feet facing a wall. Put your heel on the wall without bending your knee and hold for 30 seconds. You can stretch further by moving nearer the wall. To finish, lay your leg flat again. Rest for one minute and repeat eight times.

2. Foot Stool Stretches

Move your leg onto a stool, straightening it as much as possible. Gradually bend forward with your upper body, so the back of your knee feels a gentle stretch. Hold for ten seconds and then return to the start. Take 20 seconds’ rest and repeat 10 times.

3. Leg to Chest Stretches

Lie on the floor and raise the leg with the tightness behind knee towards your chest, bending the knee. Hold for five seconds before returning to the start. Rest for 10 seconds and repeat 8 times.

4. Passive Extension

Lie down with your legs extended and naturally stretched. Hold for five seconds, before relieving the tension by bending the knee. Wait 10 seconds and repeat 5 times. Alternatively, try this with your ankle placed on a pillow.

5. Upright Wall Stretch

Put your hands outstretched on a wall at shoulder level. Bending your elbows, gradually lower yourself to the wall without bending your knees or upper body, pressing your heels to the ground. Hold for 20 seconds, before returning to the start. Do 10 reps.

Other Ways to Relieve Tightness Behind Knee

1. Rest your knee as much as possible - use crutches, a cane or walker when moving about.

2. Always follow medical advice about the amount of weight your knee can bear.

3. Calm inflammation by applying ice to the affected area.

4. Bandage your knee, being careful to make it snug but not too tight – there shouldn’t be swelling, tingling or numbness below the bandage.

5. Try losing some weight to ease the strain on your knee.

See the following video to relieve your tight knee with some simply movements:

When to See a Doctor

Without any pain, the tightness behind knee is probably not serious. If you can’t immediately see a doctor, carry on with your normal activities, but be aware of any changes to your knee during and following exercise. If there is any increase in pain, stop what you’re doing and seek medical attention straight away.

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