Why is My Knee Buckling?

By , Category : Pain

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Knee BucklingKnee buckling is a common fear for many. No one wants to put their foot down, only to find that the knee suddenly gives away, unable to support the body. Knee buckling can happen for a number of reasons.

Let’s explore the five top reasons for your knee giving out on you.

1. A Tear in Your Cartilage

One of the most common reasons for knee buckling is a tear in the cartilage rings surrounding your knee, called the menisci. When your cartilage tears, you may find that your knee is unstable especially when going down the stairs or squatting down to pick something up.

2. A Tear in Your Cruciate Ligaments

Your cruciate ligaments run down the center of your knee. This tear tends to be sudden and is usually the result of an injury to the knee. Often the knee “pops” and immediately begins to swell after it has buckled. These injuries to the cruciate ligament are called ACL tears. They often occur when pivoting or turning sharply and for this reason often occur during sporting activities.

3. A Tear in Your Collateral Ligaments

You have two major ligaments running down the side of your knees: the MCL which stretches down the inside of your knee joint and the LCL which runs down the outside. The MCL is most likely to tear. Your ACL and MCL can tear at the same time. This is another common reason for knee buckling.

4. Your Kneecap Becomes Displaced

Your kneecap itself can be the cause of knee buckling. It is attached to your femur but can slide out of its “grooves.” The kneecap often pops back into place on its own. Knee buckling caused by the kneecap changing location is called patellar instability.

5. Arthritis

Arthritis in your knee can cause dips and grooves to form in the knee joint. These uneven surfaces cause the joint to “catch” instead of rotating smoothly. You might find yourself rising from a chair when the joint gets stuck and triggers an episode of knee buckling. Sometimes a loose piece of cartilage floats about and gets caught in your joint. When this happens, you may feel as if your knee is giving way or as if the joint has become locked.

One way to help avoid the pain and inconvenience associated with knee buckling is to strengthen the muscles of the legs. Do a little weight training at home or at the gym. Target your quad muscles. These muscles act as shock absorbers for the knee and can help to reduce the amount of strain and pressure the knee joint is exposed to. The stronger your quads, the less weight your knees carry.

As with any injury, it’s crucial to get a diagnosis from a trained medical professional. As you can see, there are a number of causes of knee buckling and treatment depends on which one has caused your knee to malfunction. You can reduce swelling and pain by applying ice. For stiffness and soreness, heat may work best. Knee buckling may heal best with the help of a physiotherapist who can assign specific exercises to help prevent future problems with the knee joint.

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Sources(s) for Today’s Article:
“What Can I Do About Knee Buckling?” WiseGeek web site; http://www.wisegeek.com/what-can-i-do-about-knee-buckling.htm, last accessed Oct. 29, 2013.
“Possible Reasons for Your Knee Giving Out,” Orthopedics Answers web site; http://orthopedics.answers.com/knee/possible-reasons-your-knee-is-giving-out, last accessed Oct. 29, 2013.

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Dr. Richard Foxx, MD

About the Author, Browse Richard's Articles

Richard M. Foxx, MD has decades of medical experience with a comprehensive background in endocrinology, aesthetic and laser medicine, gynecology, and sports medicine. He has extensive experience with professional athletes, including several Olympic competitors. Dr. Foxx practices aesthetic and laser medicine, integrative medicine, and anti-aging medicine. He is the founder and Medical Director of the Medical and Skin Spa located in Indian Wells, California, at the Hyatt Regency Resort. Dr. Foxx is certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners... Read Full Bio »