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What Causes Knee Pain Without Injury

Can You Prevent Knee Pain

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There can be many reasons for knee pain. Therefore, there are different strategies to prevent the pain depending on the underlying cause. Running on soft surfaces or decreasing the amount of running can help if the pain is due to overuse. Avoiding any direct injuries to the knee including wearing a seatbelt can prevent traumatic injuries. Weight loss can be helpful for many different forms of knee pain.

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What Causes Chronic Knee Pain

Temporary knee pain is different from chronic knee pain. Many people experience temporary knee pain as a result of an injury or accident. Chronic knee pain rarely goes away without treatment, and it isnt always attributable to one incident. Its most often the result of several causes or conditions.

Physical conditions or diseases can cause knee pain. These include:

Factors that may make chronic knee pain worse:

  • injuries to the structure of the knee can cause bleeding and swelling and can create a chronic problem over time if not treated properly
  • injections

How Do You Know If You Have A Blood Clot Behind Your Knee

A blood clot in the veins of your lower leg is called a deep vein thrombosis or DVT. You may have a blood clot behind your knee if you have one-sided leg swelling, pain, warmth, and redness below the knee. Sometimes these clots can occur on both sides at once, but this is uncommon. Some blood clots in the legs, however, do not present with any symptoms. A DVT requires immediate treatment to reduce the risk of embolizing to the lungs.

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Why Does My Knee Hurt

If you are experiencing knee pain when walking, knee pain when bending, knee pain when resting, or are hearing popping/clicking in your knee, etc., it may be a minor concern or indicator of a serious issue.

Knee pain is usually caused by traumatic injuries, repetitive motion injuries, long-term wear & tear, or tissue disorders. Below are injuries that are common causes for knee pain, but it is best to enter your symptoms into our Knee Pain Diagnosis Symptom Checker to gain a better understanding of your injury.

What Can Cause Knee Pain Without Injury

Self Diagnosing Knee Pain

Most people assume that their knee pain isnt severe or in need of medical attention because they havent suffered a significant injury. While that may be true sometimes, damage to your knee joint can also occur slowly over time, and affect you just as much as a significant accident or injury can.

First, lets stop with assumptions. Any pain you are experiencing is a sign that something is not right. So, why not have a specialist take a look? With extensive imaging, a trained orthopedic specialist can get to the bottom of your nagging knee pain and try to help relieve some of that distress. If you havent suffered an injury, however, your doctor will want to diagnose the pain and possible causes. There are some more common causes for non-trauma related knee pain:

Arthritis

Either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis can cause leave you with severe knee pain, even without a fall or injury. Osteoarthritis can be characterized by the pain and swelling you continue to feel as you age. Your joints are not indestructible, and the structure inevitably wears down over time. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is a chronic disorder that also causes joints to swell. If you suspect RA is behind your knee pain, you might have pain in other joints, as well.

A tear

Bursitis

Tendonitis

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How Can I Manage Knee Pain

Treatment for knee pain depends on whats causing it and how uncomfortable it makes you.

  • Mild knee injuries often improve with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications. Wearing a brace can stabilize your knee while it recovers.
  • If arthritis is causing knee pain, your treatment may include medication and physical therapy.
  • Doctors can usually repair tendon and ligament tears with minimally invasive surgery, if necessary.
  • More serious knee pain may require knee replacement surgery.

No matter what caused your knee pain, physical therapy exercises can strengthen the muscles supporting your knee to help relieve discomfort.

Chronic Versus Acute Pain

Pain is the bodys way of warning you, which is why it usually comes on quickly and eventually fades away. Pain from stubbing your toe or healing from surgery are both examples of acute pain, because they dont last longer than a few months. In many cases, the pain will lessen and disappear as the cause disappears.

Alternatively, chronic pain doesnt go away without medical intervention. However, chronic pain can also occur, even if the initial cause of pain heals or disappears because the pain signals remain active for a long time.

Usually, acute pain is fleeting and often goes away with time. Chronic pain, on the other hand, is the result of a singular significant incident and rarely goes away on its own it requires diagnosing and treatment.

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What Procedures And Tests Diagnose Knee Pain

A health care professional will begin by asking questions related to the person’s general health and then specifically to the nature of the knee pain .

Next, an examination of the knee will be performed. This will include bending the knee through the full range of motion, checking for stability of the ligaments, and evaluating for any tenderness and swelling. It is often helpful to compare the results of the examination of the painful knee with the other knee. Frequently, this is all that is required to make a diagnosis and start treatment. In several research studies, it has been found that an experienced examiner is as reliable as X-ray examination.

Sometimes the doctor might want to do further studies such as the following tests.

Radiologic tests

Plain X-ray can establish fractures and degenerative changes of the knee.

MRI is used to evaluate the soft tissues of the knee for ligament tears or cartilage and muscle injuries.

Blood tests

If gout, arthritis, or other medical conditions are suspected, a health care professional might order blood tests.

Removal of joint fluid

What Are Risk Factors For Knee Pain

what can cause knee pain without injuries?

Biomechanics: The knee joint is complicated in its operation and is used frequently throughout the day. Any change in the movement of the joint can cause subtle changes and cause pain and injuries.

Excess weight: The stress on the knee joint is increased with excess weight. Obesity also increases the risk of knee osteoarthritis as the cartilage breaks down more rapidly.

Overuse during repetitive motions as are found during certain exercises or work conditions can cause breakdown of cartilage and lead to pain.

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How Can I Fix My Twisted Knee

‘One of the most important things is active rest,’ says Young. ‘If you don’t move something, it gets worse and you cause multiple other problems.’ Instead, you should to continue to walk, move and do things that your knees capable of doing without recreating that sharp pain.

In order to get that right, Young recommends consulting a physio, as it can be difficult to fully understand how to actively rest.

As with all injuries, you should abide by the RICE guidelines following the injury rest , ice, compression and elevation. In terms of icing, the safest thing to do is apply an ice pack 10 minutes daily. ‘Any more than 20 minutes and you start to have the opposite effect of what you want,’ says Young.

In the acute phase, compression can be useful, especially if theres swelling around the knee joint. ‘Knee supports can be a bit like a crutch though, and Id advise not using them unless you’ve been told to, as you can become dependent on them.’

When To See Your Doctor

Any incidence of severe knee pain should be checked out by your doctor particularly if:

1) Your knee looks deformed2) You cant put any weight through the leg3) Your knee movements are limited cant fully bend or straighten the knee4) You have severe knee pain, especially at night or when resting5) Your knee keeps giving way6) You feel unwell or have a fever7) There is redness or the knee feels hot8) There is major swelling around the knee9) Your symptoms persist or get worse10) You have pain, swelling, redness, tingling or numbness in the calf

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What About A Petallar Tracking Problem

The patella is the kneecap. Women are more likely than men to experience a tracking issue with the patella, which can lead to pain, a feeling of fullness in the knee, and swelling.

But sometimes there may only be the funny feeling and the swelling.

Dr. Charles explains, In over 33 years in practice, predominantly a sports injury practice, I have found that most patella tracking problems occur due to a rotated tibia bone which alters the movement of the patella.

Turning your leg and foot outwards when exercising, especially during leg extensions or lunges, are a common cause.

It can also be due to a weakness of the medial quadricep muscle, relative to the outer quadriceps.

Can Growing Pains Occur In Just One Leg

The Complete Guide to Coping with Chronic Knee Pain

Usually growing pains occur bilaterally or in both legs. These pains usually occur deep in the thigh or calf in school-aged children. They generally occur at night with resolution by morning. If your child is experiencing pains in just one leg, consider bringing them for medical evaluation. One-sided leg pain can be indicative of infection, musculoskeletal injury or deformity, or other serious conditions such as a tumor.

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See The Doctor If You Have:

  • An inability to walk comfortably on the affected side
  • An injury that causes deformity around the joint
  • Knee pain that occurs at night or while resting
  • Knee pain that persists beyond a few days
  • Locking in the knee
  • Swelling of the joint or the calf area
  • Signs of an infection, including fever, redness, or warmth
  • Any other unusual symptoms

You Felt Or Heard A Pop

Sometimes, a popping sound after a movement can indicate something is out of place.

Oftentimes this type of sound upon injury is indicative of a ligamentous injury, says Schwabe. Not all ligamentous injuries are full tears, though, and not all require surgery.

However, if you also experience excessive swelling and instability, get it checked out by an M.D. If you only have a mild sprain then you will be able to rehab it with physical therapy, he says.

The pop is what you hear as a result of a ligament tear, a meniscus tear, strained tendons, or a dislocated kneecap. Usually what happens is youll simultaneously hear and feel the pop.

If youre not familiar with the meniscus, its the cartilage in the knee that functions as a shock absorber. Each knee has two menisci, and theyre shaped like horseshoes. The medial meniscus is on the inside of the knee, and the lateral meniscus is on the outside.

The popping sensation can be difficult to explain, but youll certainly know it when it happens to you. Though the sound originates in the knee, youll hear it as though it was directly in your ear. Its as if the sensation travels up your body, and when it gets to your brain, it becomes audible.

If the pain is severe, youll want to visit a doctor as soon as possible. Surgery is often the recommended course of action, but physical therapy and other non-invasive remedies may be prescribed as alternatives.

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When To Contact A Medical Professional

  • You cannot bear weight on your knee.
  • You have severe pain, even when not bearing weight.
  • Your knee buckles, clicks, or locks.
  • Your knee is deformed or misshapen.
  • You cannot flex your knee or have trouble straightening it all the way out.
  • You have a fever, redness or warmth around the knee, or a lot of swelling.
  • You have pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, or bluish discoloration in the calf below the sore knee.
  • You still have pain after 3 days of home treatment.

How Are Knee Problems Diagnosed

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In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, other tests for knee problems may include:

  • X-ray. This test uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to make images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging . This test uses large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and structures within the body can often determine damage or disease in a surrounding ligament or muscle.

  • Computed tomography scan . This test uses X-rays and computer technology to make horizontal, or axial, images of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.

  • Arthroscopy. A minimally-invasive diagnostic and treatment procedure used for conditions of a joint. This procedure uses a small, lighted, optic tube , which is inserted into the joint through a small incision in the joint. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a screen used to evaluate any degenerative or arthritic changes in the joint to detect bone diseases and tumors to determine the cause of bone pain and inflammation.

  • Radionuclide bone scan. A nuclear imaging technique that uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into the patient’s bloodstream to be detected by a scanner. This test shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity within the bone.

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What Happens When You Twist Your Knee And What Causes It

‘You can injure your knee in two ways,’ says Young. ‘Either via a traumatic event or a non-traumatic event.’ However, in most cases, a twisted knee is the result of the former. ‘ occurs when youre running on an uneven surface, for example, and your bodyweight turns you in a direction that you weren’t intending to go. As a result, you apply a twist to your knee that can injure structures inside the knee.’

Traumatic knee injuries also can be caused via contact with something, often unexpectedly. ‘Runners do run into things from time to time, whether it’s walls or dogs as I have done before and that can lead to injuring the knee.’

At particular risk are tears to your meniscus or cartilage that sit between the knee joints. ‘If you apply a twisting force it can potentially tear the meniscus, which then causes pain when youre running and will prevent you from taking part in the sport.’

Non-traumatic knee injuries usually occur because of overuse or running beyond your usual training level. ‘So for example, if youre okay running 5K three or four times a week, but suddenly decide youre going to add in a few 10K runs, your meniscus or cartilage may not be ready to absorb the extra forces and could potentially tear.’

What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of A Knee Injury

The signs and symptoms of a knee injury depend on the cause. Most knee injuries cause pain. A knee injury may also lead to the knee feeling weak, “giving way,” or “locking.” Someone with a knee injury might not be able to fully bend or straighten the knee. The injured knee may be swollen or bruised.

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You Notice An Obvious Deformity

If you notice your knee jutting outward in a way it never has before, take note. A dislocated or fractured patella can cause injuries like this, explains Brian Schwabe, C.S.C.S., board-certified sports physical therapist based in Los Angeles.

While some deformities occur over time, when the deformity is a result of an injury, it could be the result of a fracture or chronic wear on the knee joint. If you are already experiencing any kind of misalignment in your lower extremities, then you could be more prone to this type of injury.

If you notice a bone deformity after an injury, he recommends seeking the assistance of an orthopedic doctor immediately. The doctor will likely take x-rays as well as perform a visual diagnosis to determine if you need surgery.

Symptoms Of Knee Pain Without Injury

Knee Pain

Some of the most common symptoms are a sharp pain when going down a set of stairs, a clicking sound when you bend your knee, and a feeling of the joint being stuck.

Arthritis may cause knee pain without injury too. This is usually most pronounced with activity, such as going up or down the stairs, getting up from a chair, or climbing. If the pain is continuous then you should consult your doctor.

Its also important to note that the most common knee injuries are to the tendons. Your knee is used every single day for standing, walking, running, and so on. This makes them prone to wear and tear, particularly if you play sport or do a lot of heavy lifting at work.

One example of this is tendonitis in the patellar tendon , which often causes swelling around the area. Other symptoms include pain that runs along the side of your patella .

Tendonitis can be caused by overuse however, it can also be caused by an underlying condition such as gout making itself known through the pain. If you are affected, it is important to get medical treatment as soon as possible to prevent the tendon from rupturing.

Another common knee injury that can happen without being caused by an external issue is bursitis. The fluid-filled sacs called bursae protect the bones and tendons around your joints from friction and wear on each other.

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