Unstable Knee

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

  • Condyles and menisci: Bony protrusions of the thigh bone called condyles fit snugly into the depressions of the lateral and medial menisci (rubbery cartilage) of the shin bone
  • 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/tendons: provide dynamic stability

Damage to any of these supportive structures can cause instability of the knee joint. Injury can be caused by sudden twisting of the knee, sudden stop while running, direct blow to the knee, or fall. An unstable knee causes pain, swelling, stiffness and a tendency of the joint to buckle or “give way”.

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

Treatment depends on the cause and severity of the condition.  Dr. Fischer 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.  If you fail conservative treatment or the injury is unlikely to respond favorably, surgical intervention may be recommended. Considering the type and severity of injury, Dr. Fischer will provide the best treatment options to improve your pain and function.