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Teri Lou, December 19 2022

What Can Cause Knee Pain Without Injury?

Learn about the causes of random or sudden knee pain

Knee pain is a typical problem that many of us may experience at some point in our lives. In some cases, the causes are evident, such as twisting, overstretching, and other frequent knee ailments. Another common problem with knees is pain without any injury or trauma. People over 55 are the most likely to develop knee pain without injury, but anyone of any age can be affected. While knee pain might seem random, there is a cause, and we can help you find the answer, take a look. 

What does it mean when your knee hurts without injury?

Even though knee problems appear to be out of nowhere, they are most likely the result of an underlying ailment. When a person experiences knee pain but has not sustained a big injury, most people believe their knee discomfort is not serious enough to require medical attention. While this is true in some cases, damage to your knee joint can develop over time and affect you just as much as a serious accident or injury.

Pain is an indication that something is wrong with your body and, therefore, should not be ignored. With imaging and other technologies, medical professionals can find problems with knees even without trauma. Many different issues can cause pain to the knees without an accident, injury, or trauma. Do not ignore nagging pain as it could worsen over time and complicate your life. Instead, visit your primary care doctor or an urgent care so you can get back to living comfortably. 

What can cause knee pain without injury?

Several issues can cause knee pain without any obvious cause. Let's take a look at the most common knee problems that can have sudden onset pain and discomfort. 

Arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, can leave you with severe knee discomfort without obvious injury. Osteoarthritis is defined by the pain and swelling that you experience as you become older. Unfortunately, the structure of your joints is not invincible, and it will inevitably wear down over time.

Bursitis can affect both athletes and non-athletes, but it is most commonly caused by overuse. When the little cushions in your knee that protect your bones from rubbing against each other get inflamed, this can happen. The pain might be protracted and dull, or it can come on suddenly and sharply.

Popliteal cysts, also known as Baker's cysts, are pockets of fluid-filled swelling in the back of the knee. Due to their location, they might drastically restrict your movement, making daily life far less comfortable. In addition, these cysts can be a symptom of untreated past knee injuries, such as a tear to the cartilage. 

Gout is caused by uric acid, which is produced in excess or is not removed rapidly enough by the kidneys. The condition can affect both knees and other body parts as well. Additionally, the conditions usually affect people over the age of fifty or those who are not physically active or have other unhealthy habits. 

Tears are another common knee problem, and they can happen without injury or trauma. While injuries can induce ACL and meniscus tears, this isn't always the case. Over time, wear and tear (no pun intended) can produce tears in your knee, causing a lot of pain.

Tendonitis, sometimes known as 'jumper's knee,' is a condition that develops as a result of overuse. This means that even if a runner or jumper hasn't sustained a catastrophic injury, they can feel it over time. On the other hand, Tendonitis pain normally starts when you start doing physical activity and goes away when you rest. The pain in your knee is usually limited to the area beneath your patella or knee cap.

Many of these ailments are also linked to repetitive movements and stress. While this is technically an injury, it is very comparable to putting years of wear and tear on your knees. If you have nagging knee discomfort and haven't had an injury to justify the pain, speak with one of our orthopedic doctors.

How do I know if my knee pain is not serious?

Many symptoms can indicate a serious knee condition. Some of the symptoms include extreme pain, swelling, wounds, deformity, instability, a popping sound, an inability to bear weight or straighten the leg, and knees buckling when walking or standing. If you experience any of these issues, schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately. 

You use your knees every day to move, and when your knees do not work properly, they can inhibit your lifestyle. Avoid exercise and excessive movement until a doctor evaluates your knee to prevent accidentally further injuring the knee. Doctors have multiple tools at their disposal to help determine the cause of knee pains and treatment. 

How long should knee pain last before seeing a doctor?

Knee pain from an accident or injury will usually immediately send a person to the doctor. However, you might not know when to go to the doctor without trauma. Once you notice the pain, try home remedies to see if they help. If the pain is still present after three days to a week, it is time to consult with a doctor. Also, if you have taken over-the-counter medications for several days without relief, call and schedule an appointment with your physician for relief. 

Furthermore, if you notice some of the serious symptoms listed above, go see your doctor as soon as possible or visit an urgent care. Allow someone else to drive you, as driving can be stressful or impossible with knee conditions. Keep strenuous activity in mind as new physical activities can lead to knee pain and often do not require a visit to a doctor unless they last longer than a couple of weeks. 

What can you do to relieve knee pain on your own?

You have many options to help cope with knee pain without consulting medical help. First, try stretching gently to relieve discomfort. Second, try self-care through rest, ice, heat, elevation, and compression. Additionally, you can try over-the-counter pain medication, topical creams, or herbal remedies to reduce pain and discomfort. While not at home, you can visit a massage therapist, chiropractor, or an acupuncturist to attempt to reduce knee discomfort. 

Other methods can be a little more complicated such as losing weight which can often put additional stress on knees and other joints. Wearing the right shoes is important, too, as they hold up your feet, and unsupportive shoes can lead to knee pain and ankle pain. Weather can also affect previously injured knees, and this could seem like a new injury when it's only residual pain. Also, consider starting an exercise routine to strengthen your knees. Finally, pay attention to your diet not just for weight loss but because food is medicine, and the right food can help to heal the body. 

Why should you see a professional for knee pain treatment?

You need your knees to walk, drive, sit, and so much more. When they do not act properly, they will hinder your lifestyle, which is the reason you should seek medical care for knee pain. A treatment plan can also help prevent further problems and a sedentary lifestyle. Furthermore, doctors can help alleviate pain and discomfort while also creating a treatment plan to produce a full recovery. Doctors can also determine if the issue requires surgery or physical therapy to reduce discomfort and restore normal joint function. 

How is knee pain diagnosed?

Doctors will start with a physical exam and questions to help determine the cause of pain. How you answer the questions will indicate the cause or at least a starting point for the doctor. Next, your physician will take down your medical history to determine if any other factors can be the cause of knee pain. After the initial assessment, the doctor will determine additional necessary tests such as x-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, MRI, or lab tests and then use those to diagnose the issue. From there, they will come up with a treatment plan to treat the knee. 

How is knee pain typically treated?

Knee pain treatment depends on what caused the problem. However, you can usually expect the doctor will prescribe pain medication and physical therapy. They may also use injections such as steroids, platelets, or hyaluronic acid for pain and the health of the knee. Another option to treat severe or ongoing knee problems is surgery or clinical trials. Doctors will give you some coping methods to try at home, such as rest, ice, heat, elevation, or compression. Finally, doctors may suggest trying alternative medical treatments such as massage or acupuncture. 

Why choose Portland Urgent Care for knee pain treatment?

Portland Urgent Care collaborates with a number of insurance companies in order to better serve its consumers. We also make use of a variety of integrated medical resources to better assist you. We provide same-day and walk-in appointments with the greatest professionals for fast relief from knee pain. Get a specific treatment plan to manage pain and prevent chronic injuries. Finally, an in-house chiropractor can help diagnose and choose the best course of action for recovery using imaging and x-rays.


Knees are an important part of the body for movement, and they can become painful even without injury. It's best to seek medical treatment for unexplained knee pain or issues to prevent long-term complications. Call Portland Urgent Care today for your knee issues so you can get back to living without pain or discomfort. You do not need to stay in pain as there are many options to help to deal with knee issues. 

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Written by

Teri Lou

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