This is an overuse condition causing inflammation of the Popliteal tendon. This condition is also known as Popliteus syndrome.
The Popliteus is a small muscle which is located at the back of knee. The Popliteus muscles action is important in unlocking the knee from a fully straightened position. It also provides stability around the knee and controls the shearing forces.
The causes of Popliteus tendinitis include:
- Overuse of the Popliteus muscle in activities such as running
- Traumatic knee injury
- Chronic instability around the knee
- Muscle imbalances in the lower limb
- Incorrect exercise technique
The most common symptoms of Popliteal tendinitis include:
- Pain over the outer aspect of knee, which may also spread to the calf muscle.
- Swelling and redness over the outer aspect of knee
- Pain while completely extending the knee
- Pain while bending the knee from complete extended position
- Weakness in the knee
- Feelings of giving way when weight-bearing
On examination, the physiotherapist will observe signs of Popliteal tendinitis.
An MRI or ultrasound may be required to confirm the diagnosis.
Physiotherapy helps patients with Popliteal tendinitis feel better within a couple of weeks of treatment.
Recovery of the patient will depend on a couple of factors such as age, previous activity level, treatment compliance and the degree/length of injury.
The physiotherapy treatment aims at:
- Reduce pain and inflammation.
- Normalise joint range of motion.
- Strengthen the muscles around the knee
- Strengthen other muscles of lower limb
- Normalise muscle lengths/ stretching exercises
- Improve proprioception and balance
- Improve functionality with activities like walking, running, squatting, hopping and jumping
- Minimize chances of re-injury
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The things that should be done to reduce the risk of sustaining a poplitial injury includes
- Biomechanical correction of the knee and ankle joint.
- Adequate warm-up and stretching program before and after exercise.
- muscle imbalance correction in the lower limb
- Adequate footwear during exercise
- Avoid sudden increases in training frequency and/or intensity
- Strengthening lower limb muscles.