Popliteus tendinitis
Popliteus tendon tenosynovitis

In the case of popliteus tendinitis, the tendon of the popliteal muscle is inflamed. The muscle is located at the back of the knee and can cause symptoms, for example, whilst running. Running downhill can provoke the symptoms.

knee popliteus tendinitis

The function of the popliteal muscle is to flex and turn the lower leg inwards.

Description of the condition

The popliteal tendon is inflamed. This tendon runs from the back of the knee to the outside of the knee.

Cause and origin

Popliteal tendinitis can have several causes. The symptoms can occur with excessive inward rotation of the feet (pronation), with downhill running or always running on the same side of a sloped road. This causes excessive strain and inflammation of the popliteal tendon.

Signs & symptoms

The pain is located at the back of the knee and along the outside of the knee. The symptoms occur mainly during (downhill) running.


The doctor or physiotherapist will perform a physical examination to test whether the complaints originate from the popliteus muscle. In addition, the origin of the complaints will be asked. This may give a clear indication of the type of injury. An ultrasound scan may support the diagnosis.

The popliteus muscle supports the hamstring, so the entire leg will be examined during the physical examination. The patient's gait can also be analysed to see if there is any sagging of the feet while walking. It can also reveal what the knee does when stability is required during walking. Excessive rotation of the lower leg in relation to the upper leg can overload the popliteus muscle.


The treatment will initially consist of relative rest, which means that the movements that cause pain should be avoided. This is combined with exercises to strengthen the right muscles in and around the back of the knee.

The lower back, hip and foot muscles are also trained to provide as much stability to the knee as possible. In addition, a hardened popliteus can be massaged to help it relax and stretching and mobilisation of the knee joint can help.

If the examination has shown that the position of the foot may be a cause, an orthotic may also be recommended. This is often done in consultation with a podiatrist.


The exercise programme for popliteal tendinitis combines the right exercises to remedy the popliteal pain. You can find the exercise programme here.

You can check your symptoms using the online physiotherapy check or make an appointment with a physiotherapy practice in your area.

knee popliteus muscle

Brukner, P. & Khan, K. (2010). Clinical sports medicine. McGraw-Hill: Australia. 3e druk.
Moore, K.L. & Agur, A.M.R. (2013). Clinically Oriented Anatomy. Lippincott Williams And Wilkins.

knee popliteus tendinitis
knee popliteus muscle

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