Chiropractor Chandler AZ

Back of Knee Pain From Popliteus Trigger Points

Pain in the back of the knee is often associated with popliteus trigger points. The popliteus muscle travels across the back of the knee from the femur to the tibia, and it helps unlock the knee while standing. Several different types of tissue travel across the back of the knee including muscles, tendons, nerves, arteries, and veins.

People often develop the pain after walking for longer periods of time than they are accustomed to walking. Others may develop the posterior knee pain after yard or house work that requires squatting and bending. Others develop pain in the back of the knee after wearing poor fitting shoes or high heels.

The increase stress and strain to the muscles in the back of the knee lead to tissue damage in the popliteus muscle, causing it to develop a trigger point.

popliteus trigger point

Popliteus trigger points travel across the posterior aspect of the knee and into the upper calf. Palpation of the popliteus muscle reproduces the radiating pain.

Other muscles that cross the back of the knee include semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris, and gastrocnemius. These muscles all play a role in knee flexion. They help support the knee during walking, running, and squatting movements.

Injuries that lead to popliteus trigger points often cause damage to other muscles that cross the back of the knee. Likewise chronic popliteus trigger points can lead to decreased lymphatic and venous flow across the back of the knee. Patients can develop increased swelling or edema in their lower leg as the result of popliteus muscle injuries.

Conservative Treatments

Therapeutic treatments for addressing soft tissue injuries involve massage therapy, manual therapy, trigger point therapy, Graston Technique, or Active Release Technique. These treatments increase blood flow, decrease muscle spasms, enhance flexibility, speed healing, and promote proper tissue repair.

When these treatments are incorporated into a treatment plan patients heal faster and are less likely to have long-term pain or soft tissue fibrosis or scar tissue in the injured muscle. These soft tissue treatments are incorporated with therapeutic exercise and flexibility programs.

Medical Treatments

NSAIDs are often prescribed for the initial acute injury stages. In severe cases that involve multiple joint regions, muscle relaxers or oral steroids can be given. Trigger point injections, botox, or steroid injections can be treatment options. Pain management is not usually required unless stronger medications or joint injections are required for treatment.

MRI and X-rays will not usually be ordered to evaluate mild to moderate muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries. Severe cases may utilize advanced imaging to rule out bone fractures, edema, nerve entrapments, tendon or muscle ruptures. NCV testing may be utilized in cases that also involve muscle, sensory, or reflex loss.

Sciatica is the term for radiating pain down the leg. Most commonly it comes from the back and radiates down the leg. Several back injuries and nerve entrapment injuries can cause sciatic pain in the leg. The pain patterns from a lumbar disc, lumbar joint sprain, sacroiliac sprain, or piriformis syndrome produces different patterns of radiating pain than trigger points. Proper identification of the pain pattern, along with reproduction of pain from palpation of the trigger point allows the provider and patient to feel comfortable with the diagnosis.

Likewise many trigger point injuries are associated with poor joint stabilization in the foot, knee, or hip. This leads to poor alignment and excessive forces being placed onto muscles and tendons. Iliotibial band Syndrome is common in runners who develop the injury because of weakness and poor stabilization of the leg and hip muscles. These runners will also have multiple trigger points in the quadriceps, psoas, gastroc, soleus, and gluteus medius.

Your chiropractor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or physician will evaluate your condition and make a proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Ask them any questions you might have about your injury.


The lower extremity works as a comprehensive unit performing many of the repetitive tasks at home, work, and recreational sports. Injuries to one area of the musculature often indicate that additional damage has been incurred by other muscles.

Many therapeutic exercises can help restore proper strength and endurance to the leg muscles muscles. Isometric exercises are often the initial treatment exercises.

Followed by single plane rubber band exercises for hip, knee, and ankle; flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, circumduction, inversion, and eversion. Dynamic exercises involving stability foam, rubber discs, exercise ball, and BOSU balls can be performed on the floor. The more unstable of the surface the more effort and stabilization is required of all the lower extremity muscles.

Vibration plates enhance neuromuscular learning throughout the ankle, knee, foot, hip, and back muscles. Additional strength exercises can be found on the hip, knee, and foot strengthening pages. More information for injuries and treatments for knee pain and foot pain.

Our Chandler Chiropractic & Physical Therapy clinic treats patients with a variety of muscle, tendon, joint, and ligament injuries. The clinic provides treatment for runners, tri-athletes, and weekend warriors in addition to common headache, neck, and back patients traditionally seen in Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, Massage Therapy clinics. We work with all ages and abilities of the residents in Phoenix, Tempe, Gilbert, Mesa, and Chandler AZ.