The popliteus muscle is a small but important muscle at the back of the knee.
Page updated September 2023 by Dr Sheila Strover (Clinical Editor)
Function of the popliteus muscle
The popliteus muscle enables the leg to 'unlock' from the stable standing position of rest by laterally rotating the femur on the tibia.
Rupture of the popliteus tendon
Isolated rupture of the popliteus tendon can occur during an injury, but it rarely occurs in isolation. Usually other structures of the posterolateral corner are also involved.
- Success rates on Posterolateral Corner Reconstructions
A number of patients compare their experiences of posterolateral corner injuries, including injury to the popliteus.
"Suspecting an acute popliteus tendon injury can be challenging as it may present with subtle signs such as acute hemarthrosis without laxity and pain on the lateral aspect of the knee, or discomfort over the popliteus tendon. ...Missed injuries can increase the failure rates of both anterior and posterior cruciate ligament reconstructions, while untreated injuries may lead to chronic disability."
Citation: Wong KC, Mohamad N, Md Yusoff BAH. Popliteus Tendon Injury: A Rare Cause of Acute Locked Knee. Cureus. 2023 May 7;15(5):e38655. doi: 10.7759/cureus.38655. PMID: 37288232; PMCID: PMC10243392.
"...isolated rupture of the popliteus tendon is uncommon. ...Diagnosis in the acute setting can be easily overlooked but an acute haemarthrosis and posterolateral pain in an otherwise stable knee should raise suspicion of this injury.
Citation: Koong DP, An VVG, Lorentzos P, Moussa P, Sivakumar BS. Non-Operative Rehabilitation of Isolated Popliteus Tendon Rupture in a Rugby Player. Knee Surg Relat Res. 2018 Sep 1;30(3):269-272. doi: 10.5792/ksrr.17.072. PMID: 30157595; PMCID: PMC6122944.