Popliteus Tendinitis

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Article by John Miller

popliteus  tendinitis

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What is Popliteal Tendinitis?

Popliteal tendinitis refers to an overuse injury of the popliteal tendon. The condition is also known as popliteus syndrome.

The popliteus is a small muscle which is located at the back of your knee. It is important in unlocking the knee from a fully straightened position. This is important for everyday activities such as walking. It is also very important for stability around the knee and controlling the shearing forces around the knee.

What Causes Popliteal Tendinitis?

Popliteal tendinitis can be caused by a variety of different factors. These 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
  • Fatigue

What are the Symptoms of Popliteal Tendinitis?

The most common symptoms of popliteal tendinitis include:

  • Pain over the outside aspect of the knee, which may also spread to the back of the knee
  • Swelling and/or redness over the outside of the knee
  • Pain with straightening the knee
  • Pain with bending the knee from a fully straightened position
  • Weakness in the knee
  • Feelings of giving way when weight-bearing
  • Clicking

How is Popliteal Tendinitis Diagnosed?

On examination, your physiotherapist or sports doctor will look for signs of popliteal tendinitis. An MRI or ultrasound may also be used to confirm the diagnosis.

What is the Treatment for Popliteal Tendonitis?


Many patients with popliteal tendinitis start to feel better within a couple of weeks of treatment. The time frame of your recovery will depend on a variety of factors such as age, previous activity level, treatment compliance and the degree/length of your injury.

Your physiotherapy treatment will aim to:

  1. Reduce pain and inflammation.
  2. Normalise joint range of motion.
  3. Strengthen the muscles around your knee
  4. Strengthen other muscles in your lower limb, including your calves, hip and pelvic muscles
  5. Normalise your muscle lengths
  6. Improve your proprioception, agility and balance
  7. Improve your technique and function (e.g. walking, running, squatting, hopping and landing)
  8. Minimise your chance of re-injury

If you have any questions or concerns at any stage of your rehabilitation, please let your physiotherapist know.

How to Prevent Popliteal Tendinitis?

There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of developing popliteal tendinitis.

For more advice, please consult with your sports physiotherapist.

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Return to Sports with Popliteal Tendonitis

Recovery for athletes with popliteal tendinitis is generally good. It is important that you complete your full rehabilitation program as prescribed by your physiotherapist to prevent further problems and reduce your risk of re-injury.

Popliteus Tendinitis Treatment Options

  • Early Injury Treatment
  • Avoid the HARM Factors
  • Soft Tissue Injury? What are the Healing Phases?
  • Acupuncture and Dry Needling
  • Sub-Acute Soft Tissue Injury Treatment
  • Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises
  • Active Foot Posture Correction Exercises
  • Gait Analysis
  • Biomechanical Analysis
  • Balance Enhancement Exercises
  • Proprioception & Balance Exercises
  • Agility & Sport-Specific Exercises
  • Medications?
  • Orthotics
  • Real Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy
  • Soft Tissue Massage
  • Brace or Support
  • Dry Needling
  • Electrotherapy & Local Modalities
  • Heat Packs
  • Joint Mobilisation Techniques
  • Kinesiology Tape
  • Prehabilitation
  • Running Analysis
  • Strength Exercises
  • Stretching Exercises
  • Supportive Taping & Strapping
  • TENS Machine
  • Video Analysis
  • Yoga
  • FAQs about Popliteus Tendinitis

  • Common Physiotherapy Treatment Techniques
  • What is Pain?
  • Physiotherapy & Exercise
  • When Should Diagnostic Tests Be Performed?
  • Massage Styles and their Benefits
  • What Causes Post-Exercise Muscular Pain?
  • Barefoot Running: Your MUST READ Guide to the Pro's and Con's.
  • Can Kinesiology Taping Reduce Your Swelling and Bruising?
  • Heat Packs. Why does heat feel so good?
  • How Can You Prevent a Future Leg Injury?
  • How Much Treatment Will You Need?
  • Post-Run Soreness: Should You Be Concerned?
  • Runners: How to Reduce Your Knee Stress
  • Sports Injury? What to do? When?
  • What are the Common Massage Therapy Techniques?
  • What are the Early Warning Signs of an Injury?
  • What Can You Do To Help Arthritis?
  • What is a TENS Machine?
  • What is Chronic Pain?
  • What is Nerve Pain?
  • What is Sports Physiotherapy?
  • What's the Benefit of Stretching Exercises?
  • When Can You Return to Sport?
  • Why Kinesiology Tape Helps Reduce Swelling and Bruising Quicker
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    Helpful Products for Popliteus Tendinitis

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    Common Causes

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    Knee Ligament Injuries

    Knee Meniscus

    Knee Tendonitis

    Muscle Injuries

    Children's Knee Conditions

    Other Knee-Related Conditions

    Knee Surgery

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    Last updated 14-Feb-2019 10:49 AM

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