Skip to Content

What Does It Mean When Your Knee Gives Out: Full Guide


If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of your knee giving out, you know that it can be a really scary moment. You may not know what is happening, or what to do about it.

So what does it mean when your knee gives out?

In this blog post, we will discuss what it means when your knee gives out, and what you can do about it.

The Knee Joint

The knee joint is one of the most important joints in our bodies, as it allows us to move and stabilize ourselves. It is made up of the bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments that connect our lower leg (shin bone) to our upper leg (thigh bone).

The patellar or knee cap is in the front of the knee and is used to protect the joint and assist in the extension of the quadriceps muscle.

The four main ligaments of the knee include the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), the medial collateral ligament (MCL), and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). These ligaments help to stabilize, strengthen, and support the knee joint.

Each knee joint also has two menisci, which are C-shaped pieces of cartilage that act as a shock absorber to protect the knee from damage.

This joint is a hinge joint, which means that it can move freely in only one direction. However, the knee joint is complex and consists of many moving parts. This can make it more prone to knee injury or what is commonly referred to as “giving out,” when your knee suddenly shifts and buckles.

Signs That Your Knee Might Give Out

There are a few common signs of knee instability. These include:

-Pain or tenderness in the knee

-Swelling around the joint

-A feeling of instability, such as “buckling” or rolling inward when you straighten your leg

-Difficulty bending and straightening your knee fully

If you experience any of these signs, it is important to speak with your doctor or physical therapist about what you can do to help take care of your knee. Determining the cause of your knee giving out, such as a joint injury or alignment issue, will help you to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

What Does it Mean When Your Knee Gives Out?

There could be many reasons why your knee may give out, a few of the most common are:

-Knee injuries, such as a sprain or ligament tears: joints with this knee condition are particularly unstable, and may be more prone to “giving out” or buckling

Ligament or cartilage injuries can include an ACL tear, MCL tear, and meniscal tears which are the most common. These injuries can be caused by a sudden change in direction, jumping or landing, twisting of the knee joint, or direct contact among young adults.

-Patellar femoral pain syndrome: this condition can occur when the kneecap does not track properly over the knee joint, which can cause pain and instability in the knee.

Common symptoms of patellar femoral pain syndrome include pain behind the knee cap, pain with bending or squatting, and a feeling of instability when walking or running.

-Weakness in the muscles around the knee, particularly the quadriceps: this can make your knee less stable and more likely to buckle if you are performing a strenuous activity or in an awkward position

-A misalignment of one or more bones in your knee joint: this can cause stiffness, pain, and make the knee more likely to give out when bending or straightening

-Certain medical conditions: such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, or gout. These conditions can affect the health of your joints and increase your risk of experiencing a “knee giving out” episode

-Weakness in other areas of your body: if your core, hips, or ankles are weak, it can put extra stress on the knee joint and make it more likely to give out due to fatigue.

-Muscle imbalances: if one muscle group is stronger or tighter than another, it can lead to increased strain on your knee joints

-Improper footwear: wearing the wrong type of shoes, or wearing shoes that are not in good condition, can put excess stress on your knees and increase your risk of “giving out”

Overall, when your knee gives out, it can be a stressful and potentially scary experience. However, there are a number of things you can do to help take care of your knee and prevent or manage episodes of knee buckling or giving out.


How Can You Prevent Your Knee From Giving Out?

If you or someone you love have had an instance of your knee giving out, you are certainly going to want to do all you can to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Some of the best ways to prevent your knee from giving out include:

-Performing regular strengthening exercises or physical therapy: focus on alleviating the muscle weakness in the musculature around your knees, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, gastrocnemius, soleus, and tibialis anterior, can help to make them more stable and less prone to giving out.

-Wearing supportive and well-fitting footwear: this is particularly important if you are engaging in activities that put extra stress on your knees, such as running or high-impact exercise. Choose shoes that provide proper cushioning and arch support, and make sure they fit well.

-Maintaining a healthy body weight: carrying excess weight can put extra stress on your joints and increase your risk of injury.

-Correcting any alignment issues: speak to a chiropractor, physical therapist, or orthopedic specialist about what you can do to help correct any misalignments in your knees, hips, or ankles that might be contributing to instability and “giving out” episodes.

-Performing balance exercises: doing things like standing on one foot or balancing on a wobble board can help to improve your balance and stability, reducing your risk of experiencing a “knee giving out” episode.

-Stretching: make sure to stretch regularly, focusing on the muscles around your knees. This can help to increase flexibility and improve mobility, reducing your risk of strain or injury.

Overall, there are many different things you can do to help prevent your knee from giving out. Whether you’re engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, or making some simple lifestyle changes, there are many different ways to help keep your knee joints strong and healthy.

By incorporating these strategies into your routine, you can better protect yourself from injury and enjoy greater stability and mobility in your knees.

What Should You Do if Your Knee Gives Out?

Even if you do take all of the appropriate precautions, sometimes your knee may still give out unexpectedly. If this happens to you, there are some simple steps you can take to help manage the pain and assist in the initiation of the healing process.

-Apply ice or a cold compress: applying a cold pack to your knee can help to relieve pain and swelling, and may also help to prevent additional damage to your joint.

-Take an over-the-counter pain reliever: a pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to reduce inflammation and ease any discomfort you are experiencing.

-Elevate your knee: doing this can help to reduce swelling, which can also help to relieve pain.

-Stay off of your knee if possible: try not to put any weight on the affected joint until you have had a chance to speak with your doctor about what treatment options may be appropriate for you.

After surgery in certain situations (depending on the surgeon’s protocol), you will be required to keep off of your joint for an extended period of time, like surgery for a meniscus tear.

-Use compression: wearing compression bandages or sleeves can help to support your knee and assist in removing or keeping the swelling out of the injured area.

-Corticosteroid injections: if you have experienced a particularly severe knee giving-out episode, leading to pain, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections to alleviate the pain.

-Wear a knee brace: this can help to support your knee and keep it in the proper position and help with patellar instability which can also help to reduce pain and prevent further injury.

-See a medical professional: if your symptoms do not improve within a few days, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss what additional steps you may need to take.

In the event that your knee gives out, it is important to take steps to manage any pain or swelling you may be experiencing and seek medical attention as needed. Whether you are using ice packs, taking pain relievers, or seeing a doctor for additional treatment, there are many ways to help promote healing and regain the full function of your knee joint.

How Long Will it Take For My Knee to Recover After it Gives Out?

The length of time that it takes for your knee to fully recover after giving out will depend on a number of different factors, including the severity of the injury and what treatment options you have chosen. Generally speaking, however, most people will begin to see improvements in their symptoms within a few days or weeks and should be able to resume normal activities within a few months.

If you have experienced what you believe to be a significant injury, or if your symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, it is important to speak with your doctor about what options may be available to help speed up the healing process and restore the full function of your knee joint.


How Will My Doctor Determine if My Knee Problem is Serious or Not?

To determine if your knee problem is serious or not, your doctor may begin by asking you a series of questions about your symptoms and medical history. They may also perform a physical exam and take an X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or other imaging tests to help get a better understanding of what is going on inside your knee joint.

Depending on the results of these evaluations, your doctor may recommend additional testing or treatment options to help you manage your symptoms and promote healing.

Ultimately, the best way to determine what is causing your knee pain or giving out is to seek medical attention as soon as possible so that you can get a proper diagnosis and begin the appropriate treatment plan.

Don’t Hesitate

Whether you need to take some time off from physical activity or undergo knee surgery, there are many different options available to help you manage your symptoms and regain full use of your knee. So if you are worried about the health of your knee, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor today for guidance and support.