Do you feel a sharp pain behind your knee while running or exercising? If you have to stop and can no longer continue, you probably have an inflammation of the popliteus tendon; a small muscle located in the back lateral corner of the knee, which, if inflamed, can cause a lot of discomfort. How can we treat it and relieve the pain?
What is the popliteus?
The popliteus is a muscle located behind the knee, in the so-called popliteal fossa, whose function is to allow the knee to flex correctly and to provide stability.
However, this muscle can become inflamed to the point of rupturing the tendon and causing popliteal tendonitis. This inflamed popliteus injury, also called tendinopathy, is a trauma that often happens to athletes or sportsmen, but also to anyone who exercises or to people with a history of other knee trauma.
Symptoms and causes of swollen popliteus
Some of the most common are, apart from a sharp pain behind the knee, swelling in the area, tenderness on the lateral side and redness of the area.
In addition, a small cracking sound is often heard as the tendon moves when walking or otherwise moving.
If you start to feel discomfort or severe pain in the back or behind your knee when climbing stairs, running or walking, you may have an inflamed popliteus. Also, if you run your hand lightly over your knee, you may notice that it is much more tender to the touch all the way around the outside and back.
The most common cause of popliteal swelling is usually after a previous knee strain, but it can also occur during high-performance running due to overuse and overstimulation of the popliteus tendon.
Finally, the most clinical way to know for sure if the popliteus is inflamed is by the so-called ‘Garrick’ test, which reproduces the sensation of the knee, and consists of flexing the knee while externally rotating the tibia as much as possible and feeling whether or not there is pain.
However, as reported in research published in the British Journal of Sport Medicine (BJSM), inflammation of the popliteus muscle is common, but complete rupture of the tendon is possible, and this is a very rare injury.
Exercises and treatment of popliteal inflammation
When a popliteal injury or inflammation occurs, it is best to first apply ice to reduce the swelling, then an elastic bandage and rest for a few days.
In addition, and as reported in a study published in the National Institutes of Medicine (NIH), there are other effective treatments such as: The application of ice, to reduce swelling and pain and as a preventive measure, as it has been proven that methods such as cryotherapy, as stated in the Journal of the Spanish Pain Society, reduce pain and are an analgesic and therapeutic method.
Total immobilisation of the muscle is not advisable due to the risk of atrophy, so it is advisable to use some kind of load to align the tissues. Stretching exercises with a professional using a retention and relaxation stretching exercise: This involves isometric tightening of the popliteus muscle and then relaxing it, after which the professional stretches the popliteus muscle again and abducts the forefoot.
Strengthening exercises such as a stepping task performed on a surface that is unstable, or a quick unloading and loading step exercise. This exercise should be performed as quickly as possible.
Ultimately, the inflamed popliteus can lead to more serious conditions in the tendon and other vital structures in the knee, so rest and exercise, as well as supplementation with products such as G7 Orgono Sport Recovery Cream, which aids muscle recovery, immediate relief and improved blood circulation or the application of Orgono Sport Recovery Gel body gel which relaxes overloaded tendons and improves strength, endurance and elasticity.