4 Reasons for Pain Behind the Knee

Knee issues are some of the most common injuries Americans face and can sometimes be the most challenging to identify. Our knees take a lot of impact throughout the day, and it can be hard to determine whether or not your knee pain is just a result of overuse or if it’s something more serious. 

If you are experiencing pain in the back of your knee, it could be for a variety of reasons and a variety of severity levels. Sometimes pain in the back of your knee could merely be from not stretching before exercising, or it could be something more severe that may require immediate medical attention. Here are four reasons you could be experiencing pain behind your knee. 

Leg Cramps 

A cramp in your leg will feel like a muscle spasm. It can be sudden, painful, and can last up to several minutes. There are a variety of things that can contribute to leg cramps. If you overwork your muscles without stretching them out properly or overuse a certain muscle, you could experience a leg cramp. Dehydration can also cause your muscles to cramp. 

To avoid leg cramps, make sure you stretch your calves regularly, especially before a workout and drink lots of water to stay properly hydrated. 

Meniscus Tear

A meniscus tear is a more serious knee injury that can be caused by twisting while bending your knee. This injury is when the cartilage on either side of your knee (called the meniscus) rips or tears. It can be very painful and some people say they can hear a “pop” when it tears. 

The pain will worsen over the next few days and tearing your meniscus could also cause swelling, weakness in your knee, or loss of motion in the knee. If the tear is severe, surgery may be required to repair it. 


Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between joints wears down due to excessive activity or overuse, or excess stress on the knee due to being overweight. It’s a condition that causes the knee to become stiff and inflamed. If the cartilage completely wears away, bones can rub up against each other which makes it extremely painful to do physical activities. 

Torn ACL

A common sports injury is tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL is vital to stabilizing the knee joint. It connects the shin bone to the thigh bone and can be torn during intense exercise that involves quickly stopping and starting. Tearing your ACL is extremely painful and can prevent you from playing any sports for a long time. If you tear your ACL, you will most likely need surgery. 

Contact a Doctor

If you are experiencing mild to moderate pain in the back of your knee, the best thing to do is RICE (rest, ice, compress, and elevate). This will help alleviate any swelling or pressure. If the pain persists, you should reach out to a doctor to help identify what exactly is causing this pain. You want to make sure you treat your injuries as early as possible to prevent any permanent damage from occurring. You could also try speaking with a physical therapist, like a physical therapist from AmeriWell Clinics, about your pain to see if there are some options to try before moving to surgery.