Popliteus tendinitis symptoms

Updated April 17, 2017

Popliteus tendinitis is a common, painful injury of the knee, often experienced after an ankle rolls. Common symptoms usually include swelling, redness, and pain on the outside of the knee. While it is painful, it is easy to treat. It is important to promptly determine whether you have popliteus tendinitis and to give the injury time to heal.

What Is Popliteus Tendonitis?

Popliteus tendinitis is a tear in the popliteus tendon, which goes from the back of the thigh bone to the back of the knee, then to the top front of the shin. The main function of the popliteus is to keep the lower leg in line with the knee and the top of the leg. It connects the two parts of the leg so that the lower part does not twist outward. A tear can happen when extra stress is put on the tendon, usually when one of the feet rolls inward. Popliteus tendinitis occurs commonly when a person is running downhill.

Immediate Symptoms

If you experience popliteus tendinitis, you may right away feel acute pain at the back of the knee and on the outsides of the knee. The pain will likely be bad enough that you can't comfortably walk directly after it happens. The popliteus tendon will likely immediately swell, and will be very tender. Of course, there are exceptions, and some people may not feel the severity of pain while it happens.

Lingering Symptoms

If you do not immediately seek medical attention at the time of the injury, the swelling and inflammation will worsen. The knee and surrounding area will remain tender, and it will be difficult to perform leg exercise. Scar tissue can form if you do not properly rest and care for tendinitis, which could permanently make exercise and activity painful. For this reason, it is important to determine whether you have it, and to take proper care if you do.


The most imperative part of caring for tendinitis is giving it time to heal. Keeping your leg up and resting will give the tendon time to heal and will decrease swelling. Icing the area will also lessen inflammation, pain, swelling and redness. If you think you may have a severe case of popliteus tendinitis, a doctor can determine the best way to heal it. This may involve wrapping or taping injured area, and in some rare cases, surgery.


Ways to prevent popliteus tendinitis include wearing the proper running shoes, stretching before and after running, and running on safe courses rather than rough terrain. Also, your doctor can tell you if you are prone to tendinitis based on the shape of your feet and legs. If you are prone, you may be advised to tape your knees preventatively before exercising.

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About the Author

Abbey Baker is a writer and teacher at an alternative school in Burlington, Vt., where she specializes in working with students who have learning disabilities. Baker has a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing and writes short stories. She recently had a short story published in "Eleven Eleven" journal.