Pain Behind The Knee Relief

Written by Dr. Steve Chaney on . Posted in Behind Knee Pain, Pain Relief

Is Surgery The Only Option?

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

pain behind the kneeRecently I was speaking at a convention and a woman came to me complaining of back of knee pain that was sharp each time she stood up.  She had been told she needed knee surgery, but this was a solution she didn’t want to entertain. Her job has her sitting in one position for hours, and when I felt the back of her knee I found a small point that caused her a great deal of pain.  She needed pain behind the knee relief.

What Causes Pain Behind The Knee After Sitting?

Pain behind the knee can be caused by a small muscle called “Popliteus.” The popliteus muscle originates on the posterior side of the tibia (shin bone) and inserts into the posterior femur (thigh bone).  When it contracts (shortens) it causes your knee joint to bend.  The nickname is “the key that unlocks the knee.” If your popliteus doesn’t contract, you can’t bend your knee.

Why A Muscle Can Cause Pain Behind The Knee

The problem is caused by the muscle being held contracted for an extended period of time.  Muscle memory is a phenomenon that causes a muscle to stay in the shortened length after it has been held contracted for a long time. For example, in this case when your knee has been bent while you drive your car or sit at your desk, could cause pain behind the knee.

When you go to stand up the popliteus has shortened due to muscle memory and it won’t lengthen. You now have stiffness and back of knee pain because the muscle and tendon are pulling hard on the bones. Often a person will tell me that the pain feels like it’s “deep inside my knee joint.” It is deep inside your knee joint.

So, you sit down again, and the pain at the back of your knee stops hurting. However, it’s only not hurting because you have brought the two bones closer together so the pressure has stopped.  It’s only making the matter worse in the long run.

BTW, this is what is happening all over your body. As a muscle gets tight because of spasms or shortened fibers, it is pulling hard on the tendon attachment at the insertion point.  If you try to stretch the muscle without first releasing the tension, you are placing a greater strain on the joint where the tendon is attached.

So, what to do?

Releasing The Tension Can Relieve Pain Behind The Knee

I’ve always explained that applying steady pressure to the spasm (also called a “trigger point”) will release the tension and allow the muscle to stretch normally.  As you hold the point it will become less and less painful, and soon it won’t hurt anymore. After the pain is gone you can safely stretch the muscle without tearing the fibers.  This will release the tension and begin to relieve pain behind the knee.

Now it’s important to drink a lot of water after the treatment.  If your muscle feels a bit sore you can use either ice (wrapped in a cloth) or arnica gel (a wonderful homeopathic remedy). Ice &/or arnica will heal the bruising caused by the knotted muscle fibers.

Treating The Muscle That Causes Pain Behind The Knee

pain behind the knee treatmentI’ve written several self-treatment books and filmed unique self-treatment DVD programs, through the years. I’m happy to share this simple treatment that I demonstrate in my book, Treat Yourself To Pain-Free Living.

Put your foot onto a stool or chair. Bend your knee and wrap your hands around your knee joint.  Have your middle fingers press directly into the area behind your knee joint and put your thumbs on your kneecap. You are using your thumbs as leverage and pressing into the muscles with your middle fingers.  Move around an inch in any direction until you find the tender point and then maintain the pressure for at least 60 seconds.

You can also sit on the floor or your bed with your foot flat and your knee bent.  Press up into the back of your knee, feeling for the painful tender point.  Hold the pressure for 30-60 seconds.

End the treatment by slowly straightening your leg while you are still maintaining the pressure. You can repeat this movement 2-3 times.

It only took a few minutes of sustained pressure on the trigger point and the lady I mentioned above was out of pain!  I had her press on the muscle, and she didn’t feel any discomfort.  I checked again, and the pain behind the knee was gone.  Imagine, only a few minutes and she avoided the possibility of knee surgery.  She was thrilled!

It is always beneficial to check the muscles for spasms before you have non-life threatening surgery. Many times the pain can easily be eliminated by simply releasing the spasms that are putting pressure on the insertion point at the joint.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly



About The Author

julie donnellyJulie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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High Protein Diets and Weight Loss

Posted October 16, 2018 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Do High Protein Diets Reduce Fat And Preserve Muscle?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

Healthy Diet food group, proteins, include meat (chicken or turkAre high protein diets your secret to healthy weight loss? There are lots of diets out there – high fat, low fat, Paleolithic, blood type, exotic juices, magic pills and potions. But recently, high protein diets are getting a lot of press. The word is that they preserve muscle mass and preferentially decrease fat mass.

If high protein diets actually did that, it would be huge because:

  • It’s the fat – not the pounds – that causes most of the health problems.
  • Muscle burns more calories than fat, so preserving muscle mass helps keep your metabolic rate high without dangerous herbs or stimulants – and keeping your metabolic rate high helps prevent both the plateau and yo-yo (weight regain) characteristic of so many diets.
  • When you lose fat and retain muscle you are reshaping your body – and that’s why most people are dieting to begin with.

So let’s look more carefully at the recent study that has been generating all the headlines (Pasiakos et al, The FASEB Journal, 27: 3837-3847, 2013).

The Study Design:

This was a randomized control study with 39 young (21), healthy and fit men and women who were only borderline overweight (BMI = 25). These volunteers were put on a 21 day weight loss program in which calories were reduced by 30% and exercise was increased by 10%. They were divided into 3 groups:

  • One group was assigned a diet containing the RDA for protein (about 14% of calories in this study design).
  • The second group’s diet contained 2X the RDA for protein (28% of calories)
  • The third group’s diet contained 3X the RDA for protein (42% of calories)

In the RDA protein group carbohydrate was 56% of calories, and fat was 30% of calories. In the other two groups the carbohydrate and fat content of the diets was decreased proportionally.

Feet_On_ScaleWhat Did The Study Show?

  • Weight loss (7 pounds in 21 days) was the same on all 3 diets.
  • The high protein (28% and 42%) diets caused almost 2X more fat loss (5 pounds versus 2.8 pounds) than the diet supplying the RDA amount of protein.
  • The high protein (28% and 42%) diets caused 2X less muscle loss (2.1 pounds versus 4.2 pounds) than the diet supplying the RDA amount of protein.
  • In case you didn’t notice, there was no difference in overall results between the 28% (2X the RDA) and 42% (3X the RDA) diets.

Pros And Cons Of The Study:

  • The con is fairly obvious. The participants in this study were all young, healthy and were not seriously overweight. If this were the only study of this type one might seriously question whether the results were applicable to middle aged, overweight coach potatoes. However, there have been several other studies with older, more overweight volunteers that have come to the same conclusion – namely that high protein diets preserve muscle mass and enhance fat loss.
  • The value of this study is that it defines for the first time the upper limit for how much protein is required to preserve muscle mass in a weight loss regimen. 28% of calories is sufficient, and there appear to be no benefit from increasing protein further. I would add the caveat that there are studies suggesting that protein requirements for preserving muscle mass may be greater in adults 50 and older.

The Bottom Line:

1)    Forget the high fat diets, low fat diets, pills and potions. High protein diets (~2X the RDA or 28% of calories) do appear to be the safest, most effective way to preserve muscle mass and enhance fat loss in a weight loss regimen.

2)     That’s not a lot of protein, by the way. The average American consumes almost 2X the RDA for protein on a daily basis. However, it is significantly more protein than the average American consumes when they are trying to lose weight. Salads and carrot sticks are great diet foods, but they don’t contain much protein.

3)     Higher protein intake does not appear to offer any additional benefit – at least in young adults.

4)     Not all high protein diets are created equal. What some people call high protein diets are laden with saturated fats or devoid of carbohydrate. The diet in this study, which is what I recommend, had 43% healthy carbohydrates and 30% healthy fats.

5)    These diets were designed to give 7 pounds of weight loss in 21 days – which is what the experts recommend. There are diets out there promising faster weight loss but they severely restrict calories and/or rely heavily on stimulants, they do not preserve muscle mass, and they often are not safe. In addition they are usually temporary.  I do not recommend them.

6)    This level of protein intake is safe for almost everyone. The major exception would be people with kidney disease, who should always check with their doctor before increasing protein intake. The only other caveat is that protein metabolism creates a lot of nitrogenous waste, so you should drink plenty of water to flush that waste out of your system. But, water is always a good idea.

7)     The high protein diets minimized, but did not completely prevent, muscle loss. Other studies suggest that adding the amino acid leucine to a high protein diet can give 100% retention of muscle mass in a weight loss regimen – but that’s another story for another day.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.