What does pain behind the knee signify?

I've had OA in my knees for years - the last x-ray, some years ago, showed it was in my kneecaps. Over the last few weeks I've now developed pain behind my left knee and the other night I was awake until the small hours because of the pain. I can't feel anything behind my knee, so I don't think it's a cyst.

Does pain behind the knee indicate that the arthritis has degenerated further? I'm reluctant to go through the hassle of a knee replacement and hoping I can carry on with paracetamol and ibuprofen gel. Is there anything else I can do?

I haven't seen the GP yet as I fell yesterday and, of course, landed on that knee which is now bruised and a little swollen. So I might go when I've got over this. Will he be able to help?

I'd be grateful for your thoughts and advice. Thanks.



  • Mckerz
    Mckerz Member Posts: 5

    Hi @Megrose489

    ive often had pain & swelling behind knees. My consultant advises that if there is arthritis in the knee joint, the inflammation can travel in all directions. Not just towards the front.

    sorry you are in pain x

  • jonr
    jonr Member Posts: 382

    HI @Megrose489,

    @Mckerz is right - pain can travel in all directions and Arthritis sufferers often have what's known as "referred pain" too, whereby the weakened joint has a knock-on effect for the surrounding tissues and tendons which come under strain as they compensate. Changes in gait and posture can also have an effect as can weather.

    I have bone on bone OA in both knees which need replacing and used to have a lot of referred pain but it's decreased considerably as I've stepped up physio and exercise to strengthen those areas. It's take well over a year but I think that's the ultimate answer.

    All the best,


  • Megrose489
    Megrose489 Member Posts: 774

    Thank you both for your replies. I can self-refer to our surgery physio, so may well do that.

    Thanks again,


  • Hi @Megrose489 Thank you for posting on our Online Community. We are sorry to hear about the pain you are experiencing, and the impact this is having on you.

    I hope the information given above by other members will be of some help. However you may want to have a look on our website at our knee pain information, and ways that you can help symptoms. I've included a link below.

    There are things that you can do to try and help manage the condition, including the use of heat and ice. Heat can be in a form of a hot water bottle or wheat pack, and ice can help with pain and swelling, for example a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a damp tea-towel. We would definitely suggest that you do speak to your GP as they can give the best medical advice and diagnose properly.

    If you would like to have more replies to your post, you are welcome to post on our Living with Arthritis forum which is another source of support to ask questions and share experiences with others facing similar challenges.

    Best wishes,

    Helen, Helpline