Why is My Knee Buckling?

Why is My Knee Buckling?
Why is My Knee Buckling?

Knee buckling, which is the sudden giving way or instability of your knee, can pose a serious health hazard. You could fall and sustain grievous injury if it occurs when you are running or climbing stairs. Let’s look at some of the important causes for knee buckling:

Anterior Cruciate ligament (ACL) injury: The ACL is the most important stabilizing ligament in the knee. This ligament runs diagonally across the middle of the knee and connects the shinbone to the thighbone. Tearing of the ACL ligament can result in joint instability, especially with turning or pivoting movements. ACL injuries are common in younger patients who play sports such as basketball or football and among older patients who ski. Women also tend to at a higher risk for developing this type of injury.

The ACL injury generally occurs when a patient suddenly deaccelerates while running and changes direction, which causes the ligament tear. There may be popping sensation in the knee and swelling immediately afterwards. Sometimes, however, there is no swelling and the ACL tear may go undiagnosed. In such cases, the knee instability gets worse resulting in frequent knee buckling and tearing of the knee meniscal cartilage. If left untreated, there may be progressive degeneration of the joint.

Minimally invasive surgery to repair the ACL injury usually involves reconstruction of the torn ligament with a graft either from the patellar tendon (kneecap) or hamstring tendon. In most cases, the knee buckling will stop once the ACL injury is treated.

Knee arthritis: The gradual loss of cartilage and wearing away of the joint surfaces due to arthritis can result in knee buckling in addition to pain and stiffness. To some extent, symptoms may be controlled with physical therapy exercises and use of a knee brace. For advanced stages of arthritis, joint replacement is the best treatment.

Quadriceps weakness: Weakening of the muscles above the knee, primarily the quadriceps, can increase the risk of knee buckling. This can also lead to anterior knee pain around the patella. Typically, the treatment involves physical therapy and possibly bracing.

If you have been experiencing knee bucking on a fairly regular basis, it is highly recommended that you get your knee evaluated by an orthopedic specialist. Please contact Dr. Ronak Patel for an accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendation.

Dr. Ronak Patel is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon offering a full range of care for all problems of the knee and shoulder with a special interest in complex knee disorders. Book your appointment with Dr. Patel today: (630) 929-2249.