knee giving out

Knee Giving Out (Knee Buckling) – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Knee giving out or Knee buckling is the sudden giving away of the knee as you bear weight. Buckling of the knee may cause falls and fractures in people who suffer from osteoarthritis. So it is advised you get a checkup if there is progressive giving away of the knee on standing or walking.

What Can Cause Knees to Give Out?

  1. There are various reasons involved in a buckled knee. Some type of arthritis, usually osteoarthritis, can cause wear and tear of the knee joint which can cause instability in the knee.
  2. Any trauma or degeneration that leads to bony fragments or broken spurs floating to the knee joint can lead to that knee giving out feeling.
  3. High impact on legs, if you’re involved in sports, due to injury or repeated sprains can damage the ligaments or meniscus. Running is one such activity which has an impact on your knee if your stride and form are not correct.
  4. Injury around the knee will sometimes lead to loose bodies in the joint capsule which results in clicking sound or grinding feeling on activity.

Knee Giving Out? Associated Symptoms To Watch For

In osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis pain, stiffness, locking and grinding are some other complaints. There is the only conservative management of the symptoms of arthritis with medication, physical therapy and a knee brace is added for support while walking.

In injury-related to buckling often pain and swelling in the affected knee are seen. It usually goes away after you treat the underlying injury, followed by physical therapy. It’s best to avoid exertion on the knee during recovery.
Sometimes nerve damage can make your knee prone to buckling. Nerve damage is associated with numbness and tingling sensation.

Knee Gives Out With Sharp Pain?

An injury to the knee can cause a tear in one of the knee ligament which keeps the knee stable. The anterior cruciate ligament can be injured if the knee is twisted or bent backward. It often occurs during sports. First symptoms to follow an ACL tear is sharp pain and swelling or hearing a pop in the knee. Without treatment, the ACL is not able to control knee movements hence the buckling of the knee.

Treatment Options for Knee Buckling

ACL tears generally require surgery to strengthen the ligament, but rehabilitation is also an option, your treatment will depend on how much of the ACL is torn.

Loose Bodies in the Joint Capsule can be Removed by Arthroscopy.

Knee Strengthening Exercises Help During Recovery Post Injury

To treat or prevent knee buckling, you can do specific exercises. Strengthening the knee muscles and ligaments can improve the stability of joints. When we are referring to knee buckling, it is the muscles in the thigh, back of thigh, buttocks, and calf that should be worked on.

Here is a List of Knee Strengthening Exercises:

  • Lie on your back. Tighten your thigh muscles, allowing knees to touch the floor. Hold for few seconds. A rolled towel can be placed under your knee.
  • Lie on your back and tighten buttocks muscles. Hold for a few seconds.
  • Lie on your back with your knee straightened on the floor, then tilt the toes towards your body and feel the stretch in the calf.
  • Lying on your back with a pillow under your knee, raise the leg and straighten the knee while resting on the pillow. Hold a few seconds and release.
  • Lie on your stomach. Bend your knees and bring heels towards your hips, hold, and straighten them again.
  • Sit on a chair with your heels on the floor and raise your leg to straighten your knee, hold, and bring it down. Eventually, you can tie the weight around your ankle and do this exercise.

You should avoid overexerting your knees and stick to low impact exercises. If your doctor suggests support such as a cane or a knee brace, then take their advice.

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad