Knee Pain without Swelling (2023)

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A chronically degenerated tendon in the knee causes knee pain without swelling which is medically referred to as tendonosis. It occurs due to the failure of small-scale tendon injuries to heal completely. When these injuries accumulate, it results in a painful sensation without visible manifestations of swelling. The condition mainly affects physically active individuals like athletes, including those who engage in recreational sports activities.

It may take some time for someone who is affected by knee pain without swelling to fully recover as tendons require longer healing time than muscles. Besides, treatment is often delayed due to the absence outward signs. It is recommended to consult the doctor following any knee injury and consider going through physical therapy.

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Symptoms of tendonosis

Knee pain without swelling is the primary symptom of tendonosis. Knee pain and inflammation usually come hand in hand due to injury and several chronic conditions. But with tendonosis, the tendons are affected by means of the accumulated microscopic injuries. Tendons are the strong band of connective tissues that attach muscles to the bones. They can withstand small-scale damages and heal over time. Gradually employing some tension on the tendons and muscles will make them stronger. Strength training programs have been designed based on this principle.

However, tendonosis occurs when the injured tendon has not yet fully healed and sustains another microscopic injury. If the improperly healed injuries have accumulated, these may be too much for the tendon to handle, thus resulting in painful sensations. This usually occurs because the fibrous material in the tendons, called collagen, starts to degenerate and will eventually become sore. That is why swelling in not usually evident to the naked eye.

Knee pain without swelling – causes

The patella tendon is affected in knee pain without swelling. The condition can be caused by overstressing the patella tendon through jumping and running. An elevated kneecap as well as lack of muscle flexibility in the hamstrings and thigh muscles can also put undue stress on the patella tendon. Tendonosis could be caused by:

  • Constant overuse of tendons in sporting activities like basketball, baseball, running, bowling, and the like.
  • Using poorly-fitted equipment and training regimen which result in an uncomfortable position.
  • Tendonosis could occur due to sudden injury from a sports activity or falling down from the stairs. It could also arise as a result of a damaged ligament which causes it to become weak. A weakened ligament results in unstable joint which can overstress the tendons.
  • Problems related to the covering of the tendons, called sheath, could also be the source of tendon degeneration. This could be an infection caused by certain bacteria after sustaining a cut or suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes.

Treatment for knee pain without swelling

Affected individuals should visit the doctor for proper diagnosis. The doctor will conduct imaging tests to rule out other medical conditions that may be causing the knee pain. Sufferers should shy away from taking anti-inflammatory drugs as conduct self-care treatments because knee pain without swelling is caused by degenerated tendons. Its treatment often involves avoiding overstressing the tendons. It would be best to seek advice from a qualified physiotherapist in designing an appropriate exercise program.

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Can you have a knee injury without swelling? ›

Many times there is no swelling or any single painful spot. Damage to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that surround and stabilize the knee is the most common source of pain with trauma.

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

If your knee pain keeps you up, seek help. Like deformity of your knee joint, changes in the shape and color of your knee can indicate serious problems. If you notice redness or swelling, touch the area to see if you feel any tenderness or warmth. These symptoms can be signs of infection.

What kind of knee pain should I worry about? ›

Make an appointment with your doctor if your knee pain was caused by a particularly forceful impact or if it's accompanied by: Significant swelling. Redness. Tenderness and warmth around the joint.

Can you have knee pain for no reason? ›

Having sore knees is common and isn't usually a sign of anything serious. There are many possible causes, which can range from a simple muscle strain or tendonitis, to some kind of arthritis. Sometimes a cause can't be found. Knee pain can often be treated at home and you should start to feel better after a few days.

What is the fastest way to relieve knee pain? ›

Do use "RICE." Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) is good for knee pain caused by a minor injury or an arthritis flare. Give your knee some rest, apply ice to reduce swelling, wear a compressive bandage, and keep your knee elevated.

How do you tell if knee is strained or torn? ›

General symptoms of a knee strain or sprain include: Swelling, pain and tenderness in and around the knee. Buckling of the knee. Trouble bending the leg.
Knee strain or sprain diagnosis
  1. Swelling.
  2. Altered knee shape.
  3. Tenderness.
  4. Discoloration.
  5. Fluid in the joint.

Can you still walk with a damaged knee? ›

In most cases, the injured person can still walk with the torn knee ligament. But the movement will be severely limited, not to mention painful. Surgery may be the best route to a pain-free life, with amazing success rates. If someone suspects a damaged ACL or MCL seek immediate medical attention.

What does a slight tear in your knee feel like? ›

Pain, especially when twisting or rotating your knee. Difficulty straightening your knee fully. Feeling as though your knee is locked in place when you try to move it. Feeling of your knee giving way.

What are the red flags for knee pain? ›

Red flags in physical examination

For those who are symptomatic can present with discoloration, pain, warmth, swelling, and tenderness of the affected extremity (11). Homan's sign also has been widely used since the 1940s as an indicator for the presence of DVT in an extremity (12).

What does arthritis in knee feel like? ›

The joint may become stiff and swollen, making it difficult to bend and straighten the knee. Pain and swelling may be worse in the morning, or after sitting or resting. Vigorous activity may cause pain to flare up.

How do I know if I have damaged my knee cartilage? ›

Symptoms of cartilage damage
  1. joint pain – this may continue even when resting and worsen when you put weight on the joint.
  2. swelling – this may not develop for a few hours or days.
  3. stiffness.
  4. a clicking or grinding sensation.
  5. the joint locking, catching, or giving way.

What do painful knees indicate? ›

The most common causes of knee pain are related to aging, injury or repeated stress on the knee. Common knee problems include sprained or strained ligaments, cartilage tears, tendonitis and arthritis.

What are 4 causes of knee pain? ›

  • Arthritis -- Including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, lupus, and gout.
  • Baker cyst -- A fluid-filled swelling behind the knee that may occur with swelling (inflammation) from other causes, such as arthritis.
  • Cancers that either spread to your bones or begin in the bones.
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease.

What is the most painful knee condition? ›

Osteoarthritis of the knee

It occurs more frequently in people age 50 and older. After 50, the impact of osteoarthritis can worsen due to accumulated use and the wearing down of cartilage that occurs with age. Osteoarthritis is often the result of bone rubbing on bone, and yes, that's as painful as it sounds.

Can knee pain be a blood clot? ›

The popliteal vein runs behind the knee and transports blood back up to the heart. When a blood clot forms in this vein, doctors refer to it as popliteal vein thrombosis. The symptoms include pain, swelling, and inflammation in the leg and knee area.

What is bursitis of the knee? ›

Knee bursitis is inflammation or irritation of one or more of the bursae in your knee. Knee bursitis is inflammation of a small fluid-filled sac (bursa) situated near your knee joint. Bursae reduce friction and cushion pressure points between your bones and the tendons, muscles and skin near your joints.

Can knee pain cure itself? ›

Mild knee injuries may heal by themselves, but all injuries should be checked and diagnosed by a doctor or physiotherapist. Persistent knee pain needs professional help. Prompt medical attention for any knee injury increases the chances of a full recovery.

How can I naturally lubricate my knees? ›

Consuming healthy fats can increase joint health and lubrication. Foods high in healthy fats include salmon, trout, mackerel, avocados, olive oil, almonds, walnuts, and chia seeds. The omega-3 fatty acids in these foods will assist in joint lubrication.

What is a simple home remedy for knee pain? ›

Get off your feet and apply a cold compress or bag of ice to the knee. Frozen vegetables, such as peas, will also work if you have no ice handy. Wrap your knee with a compression bandage to prevent swelling, but not so tightly it cuts off circulation. While you're resting, keep your foot elevated.

What are 5 symptoms of a knee injury? ›

Two tell-tale signs of a knee injury are pain and swelling of the knee. You may also have difficulty with the joint moving. It may feel stiff, lock up, or feel like it's catching as you bend and straighten your leg. If you hear your knee pop and then give out at the time of impact, it's definitely a cause for concern.

Should I keep walking with knee pain? ›

Walking is a fantastic option for many patients with knee arthritis because it is a low-impact activity that does not put undue stress on the joints. Furthermore, walking can increase the knee's range of motion and keep it from becoming overly stiff.

Where does your knee hurt with a torn meniscus? ›

Symptoms of a meniscus tear may be different for each person, but some of the most common symptoms are: Pain in the knee joint: usually on the inside (medial), outside (lateral) or back of the knee. Swelling.

What happens when you ignore knee pain? ›

In some cases, ignoring joint pain for too long may increase pain or mobility problems, or even result in a fall or injury. “The more proactive you are in preserving your joints, the longer we anticipate they will last,” says Dr. Lange. “Taking care of your joint pain early could delay or prevent the need for surgery.

Can you have a torn meniscus without swelling? ›

Can a meniscus tear occur without swelling? Meniscus tears may occur without swelling. In these circumstances, a flap of meniscus may catch inside the joint and cause significant pain, but may not have a lot of bleeding which could lead to swelling.

Does a torn meniscus hurt constantly? ›

The pain may be sharp or instead it can just be a constant dull ache sensation. It usually hurts more when bending the knee deeply or straightening it fully. It can also hurt when twisting on the knee with your foot fixed on the ground.

Can you still walk with a torn meniscus? ›

Unless the torn meniscus has locked the knee, many people with a torn meniscus can walk, stand, sit, and sleep without pain. Other people find that the torn meniscus prevents them from participating comfortably in their usual daily activities.

What does septic knee pain feel like? ›

Septic Knee Bursitis

When septic bursitis occurs in the knee, a person may experience extreme warmth and redness of the skin at the knee joint, knee pain, fever and chills, and a general feeling of feeling of being unwell. An infected bursa will be swollen and feel squishy and tender to the touch.

What will an MRI show for knee pain? ›

An MRI of the knee can help find problems such as damage to the ligaments and cartilage around the knee. The MRI also can look for the cause of unexplained knee pain, the knee giving out for no reason, or infections in or around the knee.

How do you examine knee pain? ›

Physical Examination of the Knee
  1. Inspect your knee visually for redness, swelling, deformity, or skin changes.
  2. Feel your knee (palpation) for warmth or coolness, swelling, tenderness, blood flow, and sensation.
  3. Test your knee's range of motion and listen for sounds. ...
  4. Check your knee ligaments , which stabilize the knee.

What can be mistaken for knee arthritis? ›

Fibromyalgia often is mistaken for RA, osteoarthritis (OA), Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, underactive thyroid, depression, and lupus.

How can a doctor tell if you have arthritis in your knee? ›

Your doctor may use some of the following diagnostic tests and procedures to determine if you have knee arthritis: Medical history and physical examination. Blood tests for genetic markers or RA antibodies. X-rays to determine cartilage loss in the knee.

Where is pain located in arthritis of the knee? ›

The pain can be felt all around your knee, or just in a certain place such as the front and sides. It might feel worse after moving your knee in a particular way, such as going up or down stairs. Sometimes, people have pain that wakes them up in the night.

Can a knee cartilage repair itself? ›

Minor cartilage damage may improve on its own within a few weeks, but more severe damage will often require surgery.

What test shows cartilage? ›

MRI and CT can diagnose changes within the cartilage matrix.

Does MRI scan show cartilage damage? ›

Results. MRI and histological evaluation both identified large areas of overall cartilage loss. The median (IQR) surface area of any cartilage loss on MRI was 98% (82–100%), and on histological assessment 96% (87–98%). However, MRI underestimated the extent of full-thickness cartilage loss.

At what age do knees start hurting? ›

The most common cause of knee pain can hit you in your 30s as easily as it can in your 60s and 70s. Orthopaedic surgeon Robert Nickodem Jr., MD says osteoarthritis, or “wear-and-tear arthritis,” is the most common cause of knee pain – and the most common form of arthritis.

Who should I see for knee pain? ›

If your knee pain arose when there has been no obvious injury, you may want to first consult either a physiatrist or sports medicine doctor, who can assess your pain and may provide treatment themselves or, if appropriate, refer you to a physical therapist, orthopedic surgeon or rheumatologist.

How do I stop knee pain when walking? ›

Try to avoid walking on hard surfaces because that can increase knee pain. Walking on a track or in the grass will soften the impact on your knees. Walking on an elliptical instead of a treadmill will also lessen the impact on your knees.

Is it better to keep a sore knee straight or bent? ›

Tip #1: Avoid Sitting With Your Knee Bent Or Cross-Legged

This can also increase the pressure on your knee joints, which can cause pain and swelling. To give your knees relief, limit the amount of time you spend with your knees bent or crossed. Try to have them straight whenever possible.

What is the most common reason for knee pain? ›

The most common causes of knee pain are related to aging, injury or repeated stress on the knee. Common knee problems include sprained or strained ligaments, cartilage tears, tendonitis and arthritis.

What infections cause knee pain? ›

Septic arthritis is also known as infectious arthritis, and is usually caused by bacteria. It can also be caused by a virus or fungus. The condition is an inflammation of a joint that's caused by infection. Typically, septic arthritis affects one large joint in the body, such as the knee or hip.

Is walking good for knee pain? ›

People with knee osteoarthritis may reduce their risk of knee pain by walking more, according to a study published online June 8, 2022, by Arthritis & Rheumatology.

How do I stop constant knee pain? ›

Knee pain
  1. put as little weight as possible on your knee – for example, avoid standing for a long time.
  2. use an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) on your knee for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
  3. take paracetamol.

How do you rule out arthritis in the knee? ›

  1. X-rays. Cartilage doesn't show up on X-ray images, but cartilage loss is revealed by a narrowing of the space between the bones in your joint. ...
  2. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of bone and soft tissues, including cartilage.
16 Jun 2021

What are the 15 signs of a blood clot? ›

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Blood Clots
  • Swelling in the leg or arm.
  • Tenderness or cramps in the leg.
  • Out of breath, or shortness of breath.
  • Passing out or feeling lightheaded.
  • Chest pain or back pain when breathing.
  • Leg discoloration, either a red or blue hue.
  • Overdrive, when your heart is racing.
  • Time to call 911.
13 Apr 2022

What does a knee clot feel like? ›

The symptoms of a popliteal vein thrombosis include pain, swelling, and tenderness around the area of the clot. While the vein is closer to the surface of the skin in the back of the knee, a clot can form anywhere in the blood vessel. The skin over the affected area may also feel warm to the touch.

What does a blood clot in the knee or leg feel like? ›

Signs that you may have a blood clot

leg pain or discomfort that may feel like a pulled muscle, tightness, cramping or soreness. swelling in the affected leg. redness or discoloration of the sore spot. the affected area feeling warm to the touch.

What are 3 signs of joint infection? ›

Different types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi can infect a joint. Symptoms include fever, joint pain, swelling, redness, and warmth.

What are the symptoms of a septic knee? ›

The joint could be swollen, red and warm, and you might have a fever. If septic arthritis occurs in an artificial joint (prosthetic joint infection), signs and symptoms such as minor pain and swelling may develop months or years after knee replacement or hip replacement surgery.

How do I know if I have an infection in my knee? ›

Signs of a knee infection
  1. Severe pain when you try to use your knee.
  2. Chills and nausea.
  3. Fever that lasts for more than 24 hours.
  4. Loosening of the knee joint.
  5. Knee stiffness.
  6. Knee redness and irritation.
  7. Swelling around your knee.


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