Popliteus Tendinopathy

Popliteus Tendinitis

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.

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.

Common Causes - Knee Pain

Knee pain can have many origins from local injury, referred pain, biomechanical issues and systemic issues. While knee pain can appear simple to the untrained eye, a thorough assessment is often required to ascertain the origin of your symptoms. The good news is that once a definitive diagnosis is determined, most knee pain quickly resolves with the correct treatment and rehabilitation.

Knee Ligament Injuries

Knee Meniscus Injuries

Kneecap Pain

Knee Arthritis

Knee Tendon Injuries

Muscle Injuries

Knee Bursitis

Children’s Knee Conditions

Other Knee-Related Conditions

Knee Surgery

For specific information regarding your knee pain, please seek the assistance of a healthcare professional with a particular interest in knee condition, such as your physiotherapist.

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