What is Popliteus Syndrome?
This is an overuse condition causing inflammation of the Popliteal tendon. This condition is also known as Popliteus syndrome.
The Popliteus is a small muscle which is located at the back of the knee. The Popliteus muscle action is important in unlocking the knee from a fully straightened position. It also provides stability around the knee and controls the shearing forces.
Causes of Popliteus Tendonitis
The causes of Popliteus tendinitis 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
Symptoms of Popliteus Syndrome
The most common symptoms of Popliteal tendinitis include:
- Pain over the outer aspect of the knee, which may also spread to the calf muscle.
- Swelling and redness over the outer aspect of the knee
- Pain while completely extending the knee
- Pain while bending the knee from the complete extended position
- Weakness in the knee
- Feelings of giving way when weight-bearing
On examination, the physiotherapist will observe signs of Popliteal tendinitis.
An MRI or ultrasound may be required to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Popliteus Syndrome/ Tendonitis
Physiotherapy helps patients with Popliteal tendinitis feel better within a couple of weeks of treatment.
Recovery of the patient will depend on a couple of factors such as age, previous activity level, treatment compliance, and the degree/length of injury.
The physiotherapy treatment aims at :
- Reduce pain and inflammation.
- Normalize joint range of motion.
- Strengthen the muscles around the knee
- Strengthen other muscles of the lower limb
- Normalize muscle lengths/ stretching exercises
- Improve proprioception and balance
- Improve functionality with activities like walking, running, squatting, hopping, and jumping
- Minimize chances of re-injury
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The things that should be done to reduce the risk of sustaining a popliteal injury includes
- Biomechanical correction of the knee and ankle joint.
- Adequate warm-up and stretching program before and after exercise.
- muscle imbalance correction in the lower limb
- Adequate footwear during exercise
- Avoid sudden increases in training frequency and/or intensity
- Strengthening lower limb muscles.