About the author:

Howard J. Luks, MD

Howard J. Luks, MD

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Hawthorne, NY. Dr. Howard Luks specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. He has a very "social" patient centric approach and believes that the more you understand about your issue, the more informed your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and his recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision-making principles – all geared to improve your quality of life.

19 comments on “Why Does The Back Of The Knee Hurt?

  • Dr., I woke up early this morning with such bad pain behind my left knee that I could hardly get out of bed and walk. It feels like the pain is made much worse by bending or extending my knee but the pain doesn’t feel like it is a part of the knee itself…more like it is behind and to the outer side of the knee. I see no swelling or discoloration at all. To walk makes me think my knee will buckle at any time and I am afraid of falling. Can you help me decide whether to wait for an upcoming doctors appointment next week or to take a trip to the emergency room?

    • Sorry… without knowing more I can not answer that. If you can not walk because the knee buckles then it might be worth going to an urgent care center for evaluation.

  • Hi,
    For a couple days I have been experiencing pain as well as slight bruising and swelling on the back of my knee. Also about a week ago, I fell while playing sports and felt a tight sharp pain in my hamstring as I fell. I was in pain and uncomfortable for the next few days. Even with that discomfort, I played a lot of soccer and basketball since I am very committed to s couple teams. After the hamstring pain subsided (I still feel it a little bit), I felt it in the back of my knee. Any idea of what is wrong?

    • Hi Jadyn… Without examining you I can not give your a diagnosis. Sorry. If this proves to be a hamstring strain then you shoulder expect it to take 6-10 weeks to recover. Try to see a Sports Medicine doc for a formal examination. Good luck.

  • I have had snapping pain and pain in the hamstrings and calves behind the knee for a while now. The doctor I consulted thinks its an overuse injury but the MRI has also shown a loose body which he thinks is another probable cause. How likely is it that a loose body could be causing this pain and is there any way I can confirm this so that I can elect for the loose body removal surgery.

    • That’s a tough one John …
      Snapping hamstring tendons can cause snapping and pain… but so can loose bodies. Sitting where I am I can not tell you which is the cause without examining you.
      Good Luck!

  • I have pain behind both of my knees. It is worse when I have been at rest and start to move, and it is less severe if I stay moving. It is also painful when I kneel or put pressure on my knees. Please advise. Thank you!

    • HI Shannon … Pain when you first stand up is referred to as “start-up pain”. That is fairly common in knees that are starting to degenerate or become arthritic. Sometimes that stiffness and pain is due to inflammation associated with the arthritis, sometimes it is due to a bakers cyst. Most people will do well with PT and a gentle exercise — but you should see an Orthopedic doc to have them assess you.

  • Hi Dr. Luks,
    Thanks for this information, very interesting. I have a situation where I can run and play sports but I feel sometimes that I cannot put pressure on the back of my left knee. For example, getting out of a chair if I am relying soley on my leg will result in pain and the leg kind of buckling and not being able to bear the weight.

    I can also feel this if doing leg press at the gym, the first few are fine but then I feel the sensation behind my knee and I start to get the feeling of losing the stability.

    Any thoughts on what this could be?

    • If the feeling stays around for a while it is worth having a sports doc take a look at you to assess the integrity of the your menisci.

      Good Luck

  • Past 4 mnths my left knee has given me enourmous pain,actually off the scale and have been in tears almost everyday.My doc sent me to see if i had blood clot as my knee has been swollen red and warm sometimes,iv been told it could be,rheumatoid arthiritis immflamation,bursitis,cartillage damage,or bakers cyst,my appt from hisp have been cancelled on their part,im at my wits end and feel like cutting my leg off,which i know is extreme,but that is how bad the pain is,please can you help

    • You need someone to properly assess your knee so you know what is going on and what your options are. You can ask your doctor if you need to see a Rheumatologist or an Orthopedic Surgeon If the knee is swollen and warm they will probably want to check the fluid in the knee. That will tell them a lot about why your knee hurts so much. Weightbearing x rays are important too. Sometimes, depending on the X-rays we need an MRI too.

  • My right knee has had this dull pain off and on the last couple months. it’s just feels extremely weak and i can’t pinpoint an exact location for the pain, it just feels like my whole knee is weak and hurting. I am young and I run a lot so I don’t think it’s arthritis. Happens during warmups before games or sometimes after naps or laying down pain doesn’t last more than a couple hours. do you have any clue to what this might be?

    • HI Liam… I have many thoughts… but without examining you I can’t offer any advice. There are really strict laws in place about that. See a good sports doc, ask a lot of questions. Good luck

  • The back of my knee hurts very little when I walk but I get excruciating pain when I try to walk up or down stairs. Feels mostly muscle related. I cant recall any injuries. My dr prescribed corticosteroid treatment that helped a bit but some side effects at the end of treatment will keep me from continuing. I do suffer from some pretty bad pain for a few hours when I rest at the end of the day.

  • Hi, I had a bad fall while skiing, both knees bent were bent left and right of me very awkwardly, an X-ray showed no break, I can walk carefully with support bandages but can’t squat or kneel, today as I tried to carry a 5kg bag, one knee buckled under me and I experienced severe pain within the knee??? Should I get an MRI? Or just allow rest and time to heal. (Both knees popped during fall, one shook badly as I tried to get it back in the ski)

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