Knee buckling causes, symptoms & treatment

Knee joints are the largest joints in our body. In addition, it is a complex joint and more likely to injure. It is composed of four bones: Femur (thigh bone), Patella (kneecap), Tibia (shin bone), & Fibula (the long lower leg bone). The bones are cushioned and protected by cartilage, synovial fluid, and other tissues.

And these four bones are stabilized by strong ligaments to make up a stable joint. These ligaments are responsible for controlling and limiting lateral movements. In addition, there are two more ligaments located inside the joint that form an “X” shape to regulate back and forth movements.

Weakening of the muscles supporting the knee can also result in knee buckling. However, in many cases, there is no definite reason for knee buckling.

Knee buckling is a condition that occurs when one or both of your knees give out. Often it is accompanied by pain and also called knee instability or weak knees. 

If the condition occurs once or twice, don’t worry, you might have just stumbled. However, if this happens over and over again, it may be a sign of an underlying cause. Frequent occurrence of this increases the risk of falling and injuring yourself seriously, so it’s important to diagnose the underlying cause and treat it.

Causes of knee-buckling 

Knee buckling is a complex condition associated with several potential causes. Many people believe knee buckling is caused by osteoarthritis. However, some trusted sources say that there are no signs of arthritis on X-rays in many people with this condition.

The complex knee joint structure makes it challenging to diagnose the exact cause of knee buckling. However, here are some of the causes that can lead to this condition. 

  • Arthritis, that can cause severe knee pain and results in joint instability. 
  • Certain diseases, injuries and worn-out cartilage can all lead to arthritis.
  • Having a torn meniscus can interfere with normal knee motion.
  • Bone fragments or cartilage trapped between the bones.
  • Ligaments tear that happens due to a hard blow to the knees or as a result of sudden twisting motion.
  • Dislocation of the kneecap.
  • Damage to the synovial folds of the knee, which can be painful and result in the knee popping, cracking, or buckling.
  • Multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that can cause muscle weakness and tightness associated with balance and sensory problems. All of these might result in knee buckling.
  • The femoral nerve regulates the muscles that straighten your leg. If it gets damaged, it can cause a giving way sensation in the knee.

Symptoms of knee-buckling

We all experience small knee injuries at some point in our lives. Patients often recover from minor knee injuries without any medical intervention, with the help of RICE approaches or other home remedies.

However, there are conditions that can worsen knee-buckling without proper medical treatment. In addition to knee-buckling, people who suffer from the following symptoms should consult a doctor immediately:

  • Falling suddenly 
  • Severe knee pain
  •  Knee pain and swelling that lasts for more days
  • Loud popping sounds from the joints accompanied by pain
  • Difficulty walking or climbing stairs
  • Limitation of daily activities
  • Redness in that area
  • Fever 

Treatment for knee-buckling

The knee-buckling treatment mostly depends on its cause. Some of the common treatment options to manage this condition are as follows:

RICE – Rest, ice, compression, and elevation

This is one of the most common home treatments effective for many minor injuries. The procedure is simple, rest your knee, apply ice, wrap a soft cloth around the knee, and elevate the injured leg as much as possible.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

There are a variety of over-the-counter medications available, which include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. They can relieve the pain and reduce swelling caused by knee buckling.


Physical therapy tape, braces, and bandages can be used to relieve some of the pressure from an injured area, promote healing and provide strength while moving.


The technique, sometimes used in combination with steroids by trained therapists. It can help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain that leads to knee buckling.

Exercises and physical therapy

Certain exercises can help you to improve knee strength and stability, thereby reducing or preventing knee buckling. Along with exercise, physical therapy is also very important, where a trained therapist can help you to learn techniques to improve balance and coordination.


When your knee cap is out of place, doctors or therapists use this technique to manipulate the kneecap back into place.

Prescription medications

When inflammation and pain are more severe, doctors might prescribe stronger pain relievers to provide relief.


Surgery would be the last resort for knee buckling. It is suggested when a patient experiences severe or chronic knee problems. The surgery involves repairing the damaged ligaments, tendons, and cartilage, and in case of a dislocated kneecap, it is realigned back into its position.

Modifying lifestyle habits can also help to manage knee buckling in some people. For example, losing that extra weight and using canes or other tools to assist walking can reduce pressure or stress on your unstable knee joints.

Several studies have shown evidence that exercise programs make a significant contribution to improving the lives of people suffering from arthritis and knee instability. If you are suffering from knee problems and cannot find a solution, speak to Dr. Ajay Tiwari, a knee joint specialist in Hyderabad. He can help you out. Call +91 98499 82203 to book an appointment.

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