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Sports Medicine

Posterior knee pain

01/21/2009

Question:

For about the past month now, I have been having a dull achy pain in my left leg, specifically at the knee and below. Sometimes my leg even feels numb. This pain is worse at night when I`m lying down and worse in sitting. I do not have any back pain. My sensation is intact, but my muscle strength is a little weaker on the left side. MY flexibility is pretty similar for both legs. I`ve been running and lifting weights as I normally have and do not recall any method of injury. I`ve tried icing, NSAIDS, heating, resting, and it did get a little better for a few days, but the numb feeling is coming back. I also have an area of tenderness when the lateral posterior part of my knee/hamstrings is pressed on. Do you have any suggestions as to what I should do to relieve it or what might be going on? Thank you so much.

Answer:

Possible causes for your symptoms could include nerve irritation in your lower back (lumbar spine), degenerative/arthritic changes involving your knee (or even your hip), and/or myofascial (muscular) pain.

Recommendations regarding what you should do to relieve your symptoms should be based on an accurate diagnosis, which requires a physical examination as well as possibly diagnostic studies such as X-rays, an MRI scan of your knee and/or your lumbar spine, and/or EMG (electromyography, to evaluate for nerve irritation in your lumbar spine).

Pain at night, persisting symptoms which have not significantly improved for a month despite your treatment interventions, no history of trauma nor other inciting event, numbness in your leg, and weakness in your leg are all reasons you would be best advised to consult with your primary care physician and if necessary, referral to a physician specialist could be made.

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University