Chiropractor Chandler AZ

Causes & Symptoms of Swelling & Bump on Back of Knee

knee model patella labeled

There are several possible injuries that can cause swelling and a bump on the back of the knee. Some of the most common injuries include:

  • Hamstring tendonitis. Patients are likely to feel pain in the back of the knee which becomes worse through continued activity. It is generally due to the tendon becoming inflamed and swollen.
  • Popliteus muscle sprain. Symptoms of a popliteus muscle sprains include pain at the back of the knee joint as there will be tenderness when pressing in at the back of the knee.
  • Gastrocnemius tendinosis. An overuse injury, gastrocnemius tendonitis is caused by an inflammation or degeneration of the tendon of the calf muscle causing pain at the back of the knee.
  • Baker's cysts. A result of knee-joint conditions, such as arthritis or torn cartilage, Baker's cysts cause the knee to produce too much lubricating fluid. Symptoms may include a bulge and tight feeling behind the knee.

Less common causes of swelling and having a bump on the back of the knee include posterior cruciate ligament strains, meniscus injuries and deep vein thrombosis. Most people talk about pain and tenderness in the front of the knee, but pain in the back can be just as debilitating and limiting.

Anatomy of the Knee

The knee is the largest joint in the body, and it is one of the most easily injured. Three bones meet to form the knee: the thigh bone (femur), shinbone (tibia), and kneecap (patella). The ends of the femur and tibia are covered with articular cartilage, a slippery substance helps your bones glide smoothly across each other as you bend or straighten your leg.

knee model lateral view labeled

Your knee has four main ligaments that hold the bones together, keeping your knee stable.

On the side of each knee are collateral ligaments. The medial collateral ligament is on the inside of the knee, and the lateral collateral ligament is on the outside. Both ligaments control the sideways motion of your knee and brace it against unusual movement.

Inside your knee joint are cruciate ligaments, which cross each other to form an "X" with the anterior cruciate ligament in front and the posterior cruciate ligament in back. The cruciate ligaments control the back and forth motion of your knee.

The muscles in the knee are connected to bones by tendons. The quadriceps tendon connects the muscles in the front of your thigh to your patella. Stretching from your patella to your shinbone is the patellar tendon.

Home Treatments for Swelling & Bump on Back of Knee

At home, the first step is always PRICE: Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. It is important to reduce the stress and strain to the knee and surrounding joints. A swollen knee often pops and cracks, which is not necessarily a sign of knee damage or meniscus injury.

Over the counter NSAIDs (Aspirin, Ibuprofen or Naproxen) as recommended by your doctor can help reduce pain and inflammation. Your doctor will also tell you to ice the affected area two to three times per day as it helps block knee pain and reduce inflammation.

Medical Treatments

knee model posterior labeled

NSAIDs are often prescribed for the initial acute injury stages. In severe cases that involve multiple joint regions, muscle relaxers or oral steroids can be given. Trigger point injections, Botox (botulinum toxin), or cortisone steroid injections can be treatment options. Pain management is not usually required unless stronger medications or joint injections are required for treatment.

In severe cases that fail to respond to initial medical and conservative therapy treatments, stem cell or PRP injection therapy may enhance healing and reduce pain.

MRI and X-rays will not usually be ordered to evaluate mild to moderate muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries. Severe cases, however, may utilize advanced imaging to rule out:

  • Bone fractures
  • Edema
  • Nerve entrapments
  • Tendon or muscle ruptures

NCV testing may be utilized in cases that also involve muscle, sensory, or reflex loss.

Conservative Treatments for Swelling & Bump on Back of Knee

Therapeutic treatments for addressing soft tissue injuries include:

These treatments increase blood flow, decrease muscle spasms, enhance flexibility, speed healing, and promote proper tissue repair.

GT therapy

Iliotibial band Syndrome is common in runners who develop a knee injury because of weakness and poor stabilization of the leg and hip muscles. Specific knee exercises are given to increase strength and endurance. Proprioception exercises help teach the muscles how to work together again to stabilize the knee during walking or running.

When these treatments are incorporated into a treatment plan patients heal faster and are less likely to have long-term pain or soft tissue fibrosis or scar tissue in the injured muscle. These soft tissue treatments are incorporated with therapeutic exercise and flexibility programs.

A knee with significant osteoarthritis or arthritic changes may benefit from conservative therapy treatments combined with injections to decrease pain and inflammation during the recovery process.

Improve Movements to Eliminate Knee Pain

wobble board squatting two feet

The lower extremity works as a comprehensive unit performing many of the repetitive tasks at home, work, and recreational sports. Injuries to one area of the musculature often indicate that additional damage has been incurred by other muscles.

Many therapeutic exercises can help restore proper strength and endurance to the leg muscles muscles. Isometric exercises are often the initial treatment exercises. Followed by single plane rubber band exercises for hip, knee, and ankle; flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, circumduction, inversion, and eversion.

Dynamic exercises involving stability foam, rubber discs, exercise ball, and BOSU balls can be performed on the floor. The more unstable of the surface the more effort and stabilization is required of all the lower extremity muscles.

Vibration plates enhance neuromuscular learning throughout the ankle, knee, foot, hip, and back muscles. Additional strength exercises can be found on the hip, knee, and foot strengthening pages.


Our Chandler Chiropractic & Physical Therapy clinic treats patients with a variety of muscle, tendon, joint, and ligament injuries. The clinic provides treatment for runners, tri-athletes, and weekend warriors in addition to common headache, neck, and back patients traditionally seen in Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, Massage Therapy clinics. We work with all ages and abilities of the residents in Phoenix, Tempe, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Chandler AZ.