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Sports Medicine

Pain behind the knee

04/02/2009

Question:

I`ve been a yoga practitioner for over 3 years (2 to 3 times a week - moderate to hard yoga) and for the past two months I`ve increased to practicing yoga minimum of 5 times a week (mostly moderate to hard intermediate level). I think because of the increase frequency I`ve experience rapid increases in flexibility in my hamstrings (specially in poses like splits, etc). My left leg normally outpaces my right leg in anything that has to do with flexibility behind the knees and hip opening poses. Yet for the past 2 weeks or so I have been experiencing pain behind my left knee, particularly when it is bent in cross legged poses. It does not hurt me when it is extended at all (standing, walking, wide legged stands), only when it has to be bent. ALthough, when it is bent is not when I feel the pain, I feel the pain when I have to re-extend the leg - so it is in the transition between bending and straightening that the leg hurts. Even when I sit in a chair, my left leg has to straighten slowly. I do not feel pain on my knee itself, althoug sometimes I do hear a little pop when bending and streightening leg. Is there anything I can do or should not be doing?

Thanks

Answer:

As a general rule, avoiding, minimizing, or modifying symptom-producing positions and activities is advisable until symptoms lessen or subside. Other "generic" measures such as applying ice, taking an anti-inflammatory medication (over-the-counter vs. prescription, and if not contra-indicated by a medical condition or medication), and maintaining or increasing lower limb strength - particularly in your quadriceps muscles (in the front of your thigh) - are usually advisable and beneficial.

Pain behind the knee could possibly be due to a meniscus (cartilage) tear, but of course diagnosing the cause for your symptoms would require a physical examination and possibly imaging studies. The most appropriate treatment should be based on the cause for your symptoms, so if they persist or worsen, consider consulting with your physician.

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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