Did you know that knee pain can be caused by your spine? Part 1

When you think about knee pain, probably the first thought is that there must be something wrong with your knee joint. Or maybe some kind of inflammation that makes your knee hurts. If that is the case, then you might think that the only way to get rid of the pain is the steroid injections, or in the worst case scenario surgery. The most important thing to keep in mind is that what hurts isn’t always the issue, but a symptom of the issue. 

Did you know that knee pain can be caused by your spine if it is not the result of traumatic injury? Which means the spine can be the source of the knee pain and you don’t need a knee replacement, or another invasive method to get rid of the pain. That’s why it is crucial to first check the source, rather than trying to treat the symptoms by going under the knife. Our spine surgeon in Fort Lauderdale – Matthew Hepler will explain how back pain can cause knee pain, how the spine is connected to your knee and how it may affect it. 

How are knees linked to your spine? 

Did you know that the nerves that identify the sensation in the knee are all connected to the lower spine? That means the lower back nerves are responsible for the work of the muscles around the knee. To be specific, the nerves that send fibers to the knee are placed at the second, third, and fourth lumbar vertebral levels in the lower back region. For example, if a disc, or arthritic joint is pressing on the nerves at these locations, the pain very likely can be felt in the knee area. In other words, a problem with a nerve in your lower back, or sciatica pain can travel down to the leg and cause pain in the knee.

In many cases pain spreads from the lower back. However, it is not always an indicator, and you can experience knee pain without pain in lower back. Therefore, an experienced doctor should first check the spine before correcting the knee issue. Otherwise, the knee pain will keep returning.  If you are from Palm Beach County, and struggling with knee pain, visit our spine surgeon in Fort Lauderdale – Dr. Matthew Hepler who will determine the source of your pain and discover the underlying problem before a referral to surgery.  

Screenshot 2019 04 08 at 14.46.21 768x544 - Did you know that knee pain can be caused by your spine? Part 1

4 signs your knee pain comes from your spine

Here are several things that you should look out for to identify that your knee pain may be caused by your spine. 

1. Knee pain comes with back pain 

When you are experiencing knee pain along with back, or neck pain. It’s one of the easiest symptoms to determine. Even though these two are unrelated, do not neglect them. As we mentioned above, even a pinched nerve in the lower spine might lead to knee pain. What’s more important, even very mild pain, or discomfort in the back, which may seem unrelated, can be connected to your knee pain. Don’t ignore it! In particular when you sit a lot.

Whether you travel a lot for a living, or have a desk job, thus spend most of your day sitting down, you should consider the correlation between knee and back pain. Remember that sitting shortens the disc height and increases the disc bulge by pushing water out of the disc. That’s why it’s more likely that both knee and back pain are linked and your spine is the cause. 

2. Hamstring tightness

When your hamstrings don’t function properly, don’t expect your knee to work right. If you neglect the hamstring tightness and are still moving around with that issue, you can damage your knees.

What’s more, hamstring can be due to lumbar issues, where the L5 nerve travels from the lumbar spine and affects the outside hamstring. In this case, if repeated stretching doesn’t help and you still experience tightness and hamstring pain, that is the first sign that pain in the knee can be caused by a nerve issue in your spine. Tightness, pain, or inflammation of the hamstrings will have an impact on how the knee joints works. This means, not only the knee is affected directly by the nerve, but additionally by the adjustments you can make in how you move to compensate for the tightness in the hamstring.

Read more about the two more signs that your knee pain may be caused by the spine. 

Learn more about Dr. Matthew Hepler, M.D.

Dr. Hepler is an experienced spine specialist in Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach, who offers expert, personalized medical care and state-of-the-art surgical procedures to treat a wide range of spinal conditions. If you would like more information, or schedule an appointment, please contact us.


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.