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Tendons in the Back of Knee

author image M. Gideon Hoyle
M. Gideon Hoyle is a writer living outside of Houston. Previously, he produced brochures and a wide variety of other materials for a nonprofit educational foundation. He now specializes in topics related to health, exercise and nutrition, publishing for various websites.

Tendons are bands of strong, fibrous tissue in your body that connect your muscles to your bones. They help support your body by distributing the effects of gravity and other forces between your muscular and skeletal systems. The tendons that run through the backs of your knee joints are connected to your hamstring muscles, which are located on the backs of your thighs.


Your hamstring tendons run along the backs of your knee joints and connect your hamstring muscles to the tibia bones in your lower legs. You can feel these tendons if you grab the rear sides of your knees with your hands. In addition to helping support your weight, the connections between your hamstring tendons and tibias allow you to bend your knee joints. You straighten your knee joints with the help of your quadriceps tendons, which run from the quadriceps muscles in the fronts of your thighs to the tops of your kneecaps, or patellas.

Hamstring Tendonitis

If you overuse, injure or stress your hamstring tendons, you can develop a condition called hamstring tendonitis, which is characterized by tendon swelling, irritation and inflammation. Factors associated with this form of injury include performance of sharp leg movements, direct physical trauma, advancing age, lifting excessive amounts of weight and running on uneven surfaces. Common symptoms of hamstring tendinitis include stiffness during and after exercise, swelling, redness, tenderness and pain at the attachment between your tendon and bone.

Hamstring Strains

Overuse or physical trauma in your hamstring tendons or muscles can produce injuries called strains. If you slightly pull a hamstring muscle without tearing either your muscle or associated tendon, you have what is known as a mild or Grade I strain. If you tear fibers in your tendon, in your hamstring muscle or in the attachment point between your tendon and bone, you have a moderate or Grade II strain. If you completely rupture the attachments between your muscle, bone and tendon and separate the fibers in those structures, you have a severe or Grade III strain. Common symptoms of hamstring strains include pain, inflammation, swelling, leg weakness and muscle spasms.

Treatment and Prevention

If you strain your hamstring tendons, potential treatments include rest, application of a cold source, nonprescription medications, application of a cast or splint, physical rehabilitation and surgery. If you develop hamstring tendinitis, potential treatments include rest, application of a cold source, oral anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections and surgery. You can help prevent strains and tendinitis by strengthening your knee joint, warming up before physical activities and using protective devices such as knee braces, knee pads and thigh pads. Consult your doctor for more information.

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