Knee pain - pain that affects the whole knee

Synonyms in the broader sense

Knee pain, knee joint pain, meniscus damage, cruciate ligament rupture, knee osteoarthritis


Knee joint pain can be very different cause. Of importance in finding the right diagnosis are:

  • Age
  • gender
  • accident
  • Type of pain and pain quality (piercing, dull etc.)
  • Pain (slow, sudden, etc.)
  • Pain (at rest, after / at stress)
  • Place of pain (inside, outside, etc.)
  • external aspects (swelling, redness etc.)
  • etc.

In the following descriptions of the disease, we will try to address as many characteristics as possible that make up a particular clinical picture.

Unfortunately, there are many deviations from the norm, so the suspected self-diagnosis must by no means be correct. However, we hope that our self-diagnostics will be able to help patients who are looking for a disease on the Internet, either organ or symptom-related.

Ultimately, however, only a specialist medical examination and additionally possibly imaging procedures (X-ray, MRI of the knee, etc.) can lead to the correct diagnosis.

Causes of popliteal pain

Pain in the popliteal fossa can have various causes. The definition of this pain describes the place of the sensation of pain, but not necessarily also the place of origin of the pain. The pain is usually felt on the back of the knee, but it can also radiate to the upper and lower legs. The following article deals in detail with various causes of pain in the popliteal fossa.

Pain in the popliteal fossa caused by a vascular disease

A deep vein thrombosis, also called phlebothrombosis, can cause severe pain in the area of ​​the popliteal fossa. In combination with the pain in the popliteal space, there is also pain and a feeling of tightness or a pulling in the groin or the sole of the foot. Externally, enlarged skin veins, so-called varices, can be seen. In most cases, the left leg is affected. Such thromboses are often silent and painless for a long time, until the affected person really feels pain in the popliteal fossa. In the depth of the knee is the popliteal vein. It leads venous blood from the lower leg and the popliteal fossa into the femoral vein, a large vein on the thigh.

Thrombosis in the popliteal vein or its afferent vessels can therefore cause severe knee pain. Therapeutically used here so-called thrombolytic agents such as streptokinase and urokinase to solve the thrombus. This treatment takes about 5-7 days. Thereafter, thrombosis prophylaxis is carried out with heparin or acetylsalicylic acid. There is also the possibility of thrombectomy. This is the surgical removal of a thrombus from a blood vessel. This is done by means of a catheter.

  • Pulling in the popliteal fossa
  • chronic knee pain
  • Periostitis on the knee
  • Knee twisted - you have to pay attention
The pain is caused by the calf.

Pain in the popliteal fossa caused by the calf / calf

Calf pain often feels like a piercing pain coming from the deep. However, these pain, especially the chronic, are often superficial. They usually result from tension in the muscles, their fascia or the connective tissue. These tensions can be felt from the outside as hardening. The calves then feel hard. The pain increases with certain movements, such as kneeling or jogging. Almost always movement restrictions are observed.

The stretching of the knee is difficult, but also the rolling of the feet, the bending and stretching of the toes, the bending and stretching of the ankle and the pronation and supination of the foot. The pain in the popliteal fossa can be explained by the course of the calf muscles. Important here is the large musculus triceps surae, which forms the vault of the calf. It consists of a superficial gastrocnemius muscle and a deep soleus muscle. The gastrocnemius muscle is a two-headed muscle originating at the lower edge of the thighbone, called the epicondylar of the femur, which attaches to the Achilles tendon. With his two heads, he limits the popliteal fossa to the right and left. Pain in this muscle or even its origins radiate so quickly into the popliteal fossa or arise even in this.

Pain in the popliteal fossa in a tendon disease

Pain in the popliteal fossa may also be due to overloading of the biceps femoris muscle. This muscle is located on the dorsal side (back) of the thigh and belongs to the so-called ischiocrural muscles. He is two-headed and springs with his long head from a bony protrusion of the pelvic bone, the tuber ischiadicum. The short head originates at the thighbone itself. After unifying the two heads, the muscle starts at the fibula head of the fibula and limits the knee to the outer edge.

Between the muscle tendon and the knee joint is still a bursa. A stress-related disease of this tendon called biceps tendon dendosis can be extremely painful. The pain is localized in the popliteal fossa and is perceived as stinging and pulling and develops slowly. Above all, very active sports people are affected. For this tendon disease can be found more synonyms. These are: insertion endopathy and myotendinosis. The term insertion endopathy describes very well the localization of the disease. It is the transition from tendon to bone, the approach. The cause is almost always a Fehlbelastung in insufficiently trained persons or an overload without adequate recovery breaks in athletes. The tendon attachment is then swollen and greasy degenerated. This can also be seen from the outside.

The pain then occurs especially under stress. But there is also a pressure and stretching pain. For pain relief, it is recommended to avoid the miscarriage and overload. Conservatively, heat therapy, taping, shockwave and electrotherapy, as well as the injection of glucocorticoids will be used. If no conservative therapy strikes, surgery can be performed. In this operation, the diseased tendon is severed. Since this always entails functional limitations, an operation must first be considered by any conservative method. Accompanying each type of therapy, physiotherapy and physiotherapy are recommended.

Pain in the popliteal fossa in the child

Children can complain of pain in their legs, especially at kindergarten or elementary school age. The pain is then usually localized in the popliteal, calf or hip. These are often growth pains. But how does one distinguish whether it is growing pains or a serious illness? A clear distinction is not possible without a doctor. However, there are some symptoms that clearly speak for a cause other than growth. If the child has very severe, long-lasting pain (more than 15 minutes) in combination with fever, without a cold, it is more likely to be an infection or other disease than growth pain. In addition, redness and swelling in the joints speak against a growth pain.

What can one do against these pains? You can put the child a hot water bottle on the affected areas. Also targeted massages or the administration of a light painkiller such as ibuprofen can help. However, it is advisable to simply discuss the procedure with a doctor. Growth pains are usually something normal and physiological and require no therapy. However, it should always be clarified whether something else is behind the pain. Other conceivable causes of pain in the popliteal fossa are joint misalignments in the leg in children, which may be congenital or acquired. Of course, the pain can then be localized elsewhere on the leg (eg in the ankle), depending on the malposition.

Pain in the popliteal fossa caused by the thigh

The muscles of the thigh are involved in the limitation of the popliteal fossa (see "Biceps tendon dendosis"). Therefore, diseases, strains and tears of the thigh muscles, especially the biceps femoris, can cause back pain in the popliteal fossa. This pain can radiate into the thigh.

Pain in the popliteal region when stretching

Again, the cause lies in the lower approaches of the ischioccal muscles. In case of inflammation, it hurts in the popliteal fossa especially when trying to reach through the knee. This results in extreme cases, a gait with slightly bent knees.

Knee pain due to tendinitis

Knee pain often occurs due to tendinitis in the knee. Tendinitis is often caused by overuse or a bad load in the knee joint, which is why athletes are often affected. Symptoms are especially newly occurring pain after movement, redness and knee swelling. If the tendonitis is chronic, the pain can also occur at rest or at night. To make the diagnosis, a detailed consultation with the doctor, a physical examination, various movement tests and a magnetic resonance tomography of the knee joint are necessary. Those affected should protect themselves, take anti-inflammatory drugs and cool the knee. Physiotherapy can also relieve the symptoms.

Please note

In no case does the "self" diagnostic replace a visit to your doctor of trust! On our part, there is no claim to completeness of the illustrated differential diagnoses (alternative causes). We assume no liability for the accuracy of the self-diagnosis that you have created! Any form of self-therapy without consultation with your doctor, we strictly reject!

Anatomy of the knee joint

  1. Femur (femur)
  2. medial meniscus
  3. lateral meniscus
  4. Fibula (fibula)
  5. Tibia (tibia)
Picture knee pain in

A - Right knee joint from the front

  1. Inner thigh muscle -
    Musculus vastus medialis
  2. Thigh bone -
  3. Kneecap -
  4. Inner meniscus -
    Meniscus medialis
  5. Inner band -
    Ligamentum collateral tibiale
  6. Internal calf muscle
    Gastrocnemius muscle,
    Caput mediale
  7. Shin -
    a - Internal ligament injury
    (Inner ligament)
    b - inner meniscus tear
    c - medial
    (internal) knee osteoarthritis
Figure knee pain outside

A - Right knee joint from the front

  1. Outer thigh muscle -
    Musculus vastus lateralis
  2. Thigh bone -
  3. Kneecap -
  4. Outer meniscus -
    Lateral meniscus
  5. Outer band -
    Ligamentum collateral fibular
  6. Fibula -
  7. Shin -
  8. Outer calf muscle
    Gastrocnemius muscle,
    Caput lateral
    a - External ligament injury
    (Outer ligament)
    b - External meniscus tear
    c - Lateral
    (Outer) knee joint osteoarthritis

To the diagnostics

Using our "self" diagnostic tool is easy. Follow the respective link provided where the location and description of the symptoms best suits your condition. Pay attention to where the pain from the shoulder joint is greatest.

Where are your complaints?

How to Manage Knee Pain: Dr. Natalie Voskanian (February 2020).

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