Could Pain in My Knee Be From an Issue in My Back?

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The human body is interconnected. All of its muscles and body systems work together to make you function, and there are many processes going on without you ever knowing. There may not be an obvious connection between the two, but your knee pain might be related to an issue in your back.


Back pain can sometimes translate into leg pain through the knee and sometimes all the way down to the foot via the sciatic nerve. A blanket term for leg pain is known as sciatica and is described as an irritation of the sciatic nerve, often due to pressure or a slipped disc originating in the lower back. Sciatica can also lead to a weakening of the leg muscles, which would put increased stress on the knee.


Sometimes it’s hard to remember which pain came first. In other words, did your back hurt first, causing knee pain or was it the other way around. In all activities, whether it's jogging or just walking around in your daily life, the body has a natural tendency to compensate in order to protect itself from pain. People also knowingly compensate to avoid painful movements. This means that if you have pain in the back, all of the surrounding areas will sometimes leave their natural positions to avoid pain, but in doing so, can cause pain for other areas of the body.


A common cause for back pain can be improper technique when lifting items. Whether it’s lifting weights in the gym or picking up your dog, many people bend at the waist and put stress on the back. Proper technique should be observed when bending over and lifting objects which means crouching to protect the back and focusing on using the hamstrings, glutes and quads to return to a standing position.

Weak Core Stability

The “core” is generally described as the muscles in the center of the body, including the abdominal muscles, glutes, back muscles and hip muscles, that are responsible to support much of your weight and maintain proper posture. If your core is weak, you are more likely to put greater stress on your knees and develop unnatural posture. At the same time, maintaining good strength and flexibility of the knee and its surrounding muscles will help to relieve stress on the back.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be a good option in the treatment and prevention of knee and back pain. The primary goal of physical therapy is to make everyday tasks easier, but your physical therapist will also be able to analyze the cause of your pain and employ exercises that will help to strengthen the body. Your therapist will also talk with you about developing new habits to reduce the possibility of long-term pain, which may include altering your walking gait and sitting posture, proper technique when lifting objects and the best way to stand up and sit down to avoid putting stress on the knees.