Are you familiar with the term “blown-out knee” but unsure of its exact meaning? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the question, “What is a blown-out knee?” and provide you with a comprehensive understanding of this common injury. A blown-out knee refers to a severe and often debilitating injury that affects the knee joint, compromising its stability and function.

Whether you’ve personally experienced this injury or are simply curious about its nature, join us as we explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for a blown-out knee.

The Knee Joint

Prior to discussing a blown-out knee, it is pertinent to have a comprehensive understanding of the surrounding human anatomy.

The knee joint, which is the largest joint in the human body, is a remarkable structure that enables movement and supports our daily activities. It is formed by the connection between the shin bone (tibia) and the thigh bone (femur), with the kneecap (patella) gliding over the front of the joint.

Several essential components work harmoniously to ensure the knee’s stability and functionality.

Collateral ligaments, including the medial collateral ligament on the inside of the knee, and the lateral collateral ligament on the outside of the knee, provide stability to the joint and prevent excessive sideways movement.

Cruciate ligaments, namely the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), are in the middle of the knee, crossing each other to control forward and backward movement.

Articular cartilage, a smooth and protective covering on the ends of the femur and tibia, allows for frictionless joint motion.

Additionally, the knee bones are connected by tendons like the quadriceps tendon and the patellar tendon.

All these structures work together to create a remarkable and complex joint that acts as a hinge and provides shock absorbers, stability, and flexibility for our daily movements.

What is a blown out knee?

When it comes to blown-out knees, certain knee injuries are more commonly associated with this condition.

One of the most prevalent injuries is a torn ACL, where the anterior cruciate ligament, one of the knee’s major ligaments, gets damaged or completely ruptured. ACL tears often occur due to sudden stops, changes in direction, or a direct blow to the knee, commonly seen in sports activities such as soccer, basketball, or football.

Symptoms of an ACL injury include immediate pain, swelling, instability, and a popping sound at the time of injury.

Another frequently encountered knee injury is meniscal tears, referring to the tearing of the rubbery cartilage in the knee joint. Meniscus tears can occur alongside ACL injuries or independently.

Common causes include twisting motions, sudden pivots, or direct trauma to the knee.

Symptoms may include knee pain, swelling, stiffness, and locking or catching sensations in the joint.

Other knee injuries associated with a blown-out knee include patellar dislocation, knee dislocation, and partial tears of the ACL or meniscus.

These injuries can result from high-impact sports, contact sports, or traumatic incidents like a car accident.

If you experience any of these symptoms or have concerns about a blown-out knee, it is crucial to seek medical attention for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.


Treatment Options for Knee Injuries

Treatment options for individuals with a blown-out knee vary depending on the severity of the injury and individual circumstances.


For less severe cases, nonsurgical approaches may be recommended. These can include the use of knee braces or supports to provide stability and assist in the healing process.

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in both nonsurgical and postsurgical treatment. A physical therapist can guide patients through exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and stability in the knee joint. They can also help manage pain and reduce swelling.


In more severe cases or when conservative methods are insufficient, surgical intervention may be necessary. Minimally invasive procedures can be performed, involving small incisions and specialized instruments.

Surgery may involve repairing or reconstructing damaged ligaments, meniscal repair or removal, or other necessary procedures identified through diagnostic imaging such as MRI or CT scan.


Pain Management and Other Considerations

The appropriate treatment plan should be determined by a healthcare provider or orthopedic specialist, who will consider factors such as the extent of the injury, the individual’s overall health, and their specific needs to ensure the best possible outcome for recovery.

In addition to the use of a knee brace, physical therapy, and surgical options, there are other treatment modalities and considerations for individuals with a blown-out knee.

Pain management techniques play a crucial role in providing relief and improving overall comfort. This can include the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other prescribed medications to reduce pain and inflammation.

In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be administered directly into the knee joint to provide temporary pain relief.

Furthermore, applying cold or heat therapy, such as ice packs or heat pads, can help alleviate pain and reduce swelling depending on the phase of healing you are in.

A Village

It is important to note that rehabilitation and recovery following a blown-out knee often require a multidisciplinary approach. Collaborating with healthcare professionals, including orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, occupational therapists or mental health professionals, and athletic trainers, can ensure a comprehensive treatment plan.

These experts work together to design individualized rehabilitation programs that focus on strengthening the knee, restoring range of motion, and improving functional abilities. They may incorporate a combination of exercises, stretches, and manual therapy techniques to facilitate healing and improve joint stability.

Throughout the treatment process, regular follow-up visits with healthcare providers are crucial to monitor progress, make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan, and ensure optimal recovery.

Open communication with the healthcare team is vital to address any concerns or challenges faced during the rehabilitation journey.


Understanding what a blown-out knee entails is essential for those seeking knowledge about this common injury.

We have explored the intricate anatomy of the knee, highlighting the roles played by bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage in maintaining its stability and function.

The most common knee injuries associated with a blown-out knee, such as ACL tears and meniscal tears, have been discussed, along with their symptoms and typical causes.

We have also delved into the treatment options available, encompassing both nonsurgical and surgical approaches. Whether it’s the use of knee braces, physical therapy, or specialized surgical procedures, seeking appropriate medical advice is crucial to ensure the best possible outcome for recovery.

By understanding the causes, symptoms, and available treatments for a blown-out knee, individuals can take proactive steps to begin healing after such injuries and prioritize their knee health.

About the Author

Hi there! I’m Dr. Keagen Hadley, OTD, OTR/L. Straight out of the University of Mary, I’m all about blending my know-how in knee health, well-being, and medical technology. As a licensed occupational therapy doc, I’m here to translate complex concepts into clear, actionable insights – whether it’s knee care or groundbreaking healthcare tech.

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