What can I do about the knee buckle?

A diagram of the knee.

Knee flexion, a condition in which the knee appears to suddenly cave in because of instability, can be caused by a number of medical conditions, from arthritis to an unstable kneecap. After identifying the exact cause of weakness, a medical professional can prescribe a regimen of physical therapy and medication to help. While surgery is the only option to correct the problem in some cases, you can get relief by changing your diet and exercise routine. Before making the diagnosis, you can use a cane and rest more than usual to minimize the chances of worsening the damage. Alternating between hot and cold compresses can also help with any pain and swelling.

identifying the cause

Osteoporosis can sometimes cause the knee to flex.

The first thing to do when your knees start to buckle is to identify the cause. Healthcare professionals can identify the area of ​​weakness using a physical exam and imaging studies, which helps them figure out why it’s happening. The most common causes of knee flexion are diseases that damage the joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and chondrocalcinosis, which is a condition in which calcium builds up in the cartilage of the knee, causing inflammation. Osteoporosis can also cause degeneration of the bones in the knee, which can also cause buckling.

Swimming can be used as physical therapy to treat knee buckling.

An unstable kneecap is another common cause of knee flexion, especially in people without degenerative disease or injuries. This can also cause the kneecap to visibly move away from its natural groove and the knee itself to appear to be creaking or crushing other bones as it is moved. Also, knee injuries can cause the knee to bend, especially if the ligaments or supporting muscles around it are damaged.

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Over-the-counter pain relievers can be an effective treatment for knee buckling.

After determining the location and cause, medical professionals often prescribe pain medication, such as acetaminophen, or a stronger nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Topical pain reliever creams can also relieve some of the pain associated with joint damage. If you have arthritis, a healthcare professional may also recommend steroid or hyaluronan injections. Other medications, called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), can help with certain types of arthritis, such as psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis.


Physical therapy can help strengthen the knee and help with knee buckling.

Along with medication, you can use physical therapy to strengthen your knees. Therapists recommend certain types of stretches and exercises for bending the knees, especially those that stretch and strengthen the muscles that support the knees, buttocks, and core muscles. One of the most commonly recommended exercises is to sit in a chair with a light weight on the ankle of the affected leg, lift the lower leg to make it straight with the rest of the leg, hold it there for a few seconds and release it from the leg. back to the ground. This strengthens the quadriceps, which helps keep the knee stable. Physical therapists also often recommend exercises that work the cardiovascular system but don’t put extra strain on the knee, such as swimming or using an elliptical machine.

Lifestyle changes and supplements

Lifestyle changes can also help some people with this condition. Overweight people are more likely to suffer from bent knees, so if you’re overweight, losing weight and taking supplements to promote joint health often helps. You can also benefit from joint-strengthening supplements such as vitamin C and D if you are elderly, as joints tend to deteriorate with age. Many health professionals also recommend supplementing with glucosamine, an amino sugar derived from the exoskeleton of crustaceans that helps with joint pain.

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In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat knee buckling. This is particularly true if there are loose pieces of bone or tissue in the knee joint that interfere with its function. As the fragments float, they cause sudden joint failure, causing the knee to bend when walking or even standing.

During surgery, the surgeon removes fragments of the knee and repairs any damage that may have already occurred to ligaments or other tissue. This can be done as an outpatient arthroscopic surgery, where two small incisions on each side of the kneecap are the only access the surgeon needs for cameras and miniaturized tools. More invasive surgeries, such as a partial or total knee replacement, may be necessary, however, when the damage is more widespread.

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