Unstable Knee

What is an Unstable Knee?

The knee joint is one of the largest joints in the body. This highly complex joint has several tissues supporting and stabilizing its movement:

  • Condyles and menisci: Bony protrusions of the thighbone called condyles fit snugly into the depressions of the lateral and medial menisci (spongy cartilage) of the shinbone.
  • Ligaments: bands of tissue crisscross across the joint bones, connecting and holding them in place.
  • Capsules: tissue that connects the bones of the knee, by forming a sleeve over the joint.
  • Muscles: provide secondary stability.

Damage to any of these supportive structures causes instability of the knee joint.

Causes of an Unstable Knee

Unstable knee can be caused by sudden twisting of the knee, tears of the meniscus, ligament or capsule, osteoarthritis of the knee (wear and tear of the cushioning cartilage tissue between bones) and sports injuries. When these tissues get injured, the patella or kneecap can move out of its groove in the knee joint and lead to instability.

Symptoms of an Unstable Knee

An unstable knee causes pain, swelling, stiffness and a tendency of the joint to buckle or “give way”.

Diagnosis of an Unstable Knee

When you present with these symptoms, your doctor diagnoses knee instability by performing a thorough physical examination to test the stability of each ligament and may order imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI or CT scans to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of an Unstable Knee

Treatment depends on the cause and severity of the condition. Initially, your surgeon may recommend conservative treatments such as rest, ice application, compression and elevation of the leg (R.I.C.E.), physical therapy and use of braces. Pain relieving medications may be prescribed for symptomatic relief. However, when these conservative treatments yield an unsatisfactory response, surgical correction may be recommended. Considering the type and severity of injury, your surgeon decides on the surgical repair or reconstruction of the joint by replacing the damaged parts with a prosthesis.

  •  The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University - Home of Sidney Kimmel Medical College
  • The Naval Medical Center
  • University of Miami Hospital

Patient Reviews

  • “Dr. Hammel just performed my second hip replacement surgery and I am feeling great. 4 days post op and I cannot wait to enjoy my life again that he has given me the opportunity to live to the fullest! He is such an easy going professional that listened to all of my concerns and requests. I cant...”

  • I had a hip replacement surgery done last September, 2017. The results have been excellent. All pain in right hip and leg is gone. It hasn't been a full year and I feel like I'm fully recovered. Very, very satisfied...

  • I had both biceps ripped from my arms in a motorcycle accident involving a wet rubber mat at a gas station. Dr Hammel performed the surgeries to reattach my biceps recently. I am amazed at his work and bedside manner. Very healing personality type too. I will refer my friends to him if they need...

Patient Reviews

Musculoskeletal oncology is the branch of orthopedic surgery that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of tumors of the bone and soft tissues.

Read More