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Sports Medicine

Back of knee pain

01/27/2009

Question:

Last evening as I was sitting in my car I tried to push myself up to stick my head out of the window with my left knee. As I was doing this I felt 3 of 4 popping sensations and a little pain on the outside of the knee. It was sore last evening but this morning it hurts much more but only in certain positions. I can`t completely straighten my leg because of the pain. I also can`t bend my knee because of the pain. If I turn my knee out it hurts but if I turn it inward it doesn`t. Also, I have recently started working out by dancing (I`m 41) so I have a feeling my knee was probably a bit stressed from the jumping and twisting we do in class.

Answer:

Possible causes for your knee symptoms include patellofemoral pain (involving your kneecap), a torn meniscus (cartilage), and/or pre-existing degenerative changes in your knee which have now become symptomatic.

Your difficulty extending and flexing your knee is most likely at least partly related to pain with motion of an inflamed knee joint, but could also be limited due to the presence of any fluid which may have developed within your knee.

If there is knee swelling, if weight-bearing on that leg is painful, and particularly if your symptoms persist and interfere with desired activities, you should consult with your physician, who can perform a physical examination and determine whether any imaging studies (X-rays, MRI scan) would be useful to guide your treatment.

In the meantime, allowing your knee symptoms to guide positions and activities, applying ice to your knee for no more than 15-20 min. periods (if helpful), wrapping your knee (or trying on an elastic knee sleeve), and/or taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication (if you don't have any medical conditions which would contraindicate use of this medication category) may be of some help.

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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