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Knee Instability Specialist

Sports Medicine Center

Sports Medicine & Orthopedics located in Appleton, WI

Knee instability is an odd and uncomfortable sensation that happens when your knee shifts out of place. At Sports Medicine Center in Appleton, Wisconsin, board-certified sports medicine specialist Etienne Mejia, MD, and the team understand how frustrating knee instability can be, and they’re ready to help you recover. Schedule your appointment online, or call the office to request your consultation now.

Knee Instability Q&A

What is knee instability?

Knee instability is a condition in which your patella (kneecap) moves out of its normal position. The kneecap links your thigh muscles to your tibia (shin bone). When you move your leg, your kneecap adjusts by moving up or down. 

Your femur (thigh bone) has a groove where the patella can glide smoothly into place. But, if that groove area is overly shallow or uneven, your patella can't rest in the proper place. This leads to knee instability. 

What are the symptoms of knee instability?

If you have an unstable kneecap, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Kneecap moves to the side
  • Knee buckles when you stand
  • Knee swelling
  • Pain when you try to move your knee
  • Pain that increases with physical activity
  • Inability to straighten your knee
  • Knee locking in one position
  • Knee clicking or catching as you move

You might also feel like your knee is moving, perhaps twisting or shifting, when you're not trying to move it. 

When should I seek help for knee instability?

If your knee instability happens fairly frequently, or if it disrupts your activities, it's important to see Dr. Mejia at Sports Medicine Center promptly. You can't depend on an unstable knee, and that means you're risking an even more serious injury if you try to ignore the problem. 

What causes knee instability?

The most common cause of knee instability is a ligament injury. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ligament, which runs between your femur and tibia, is the most frequently injured ligament in the knee. 

You can also experience a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) or medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury, both of which can lead to knee instability.

Another reason for knee instability is osteoarthritis and age-related disease that erodes the cartilage in your joints over many years. Up to 72% of people with osteoarthritis experience symptoms of knee instability like buckling and weakness. 

How is knee instability treated?

At Sports Medicine Center, Dr. Mejia and the team may recommend physical therapy, rest, injections, and other nonsurgical care in the beginning. If your knee instability disrupts your life, you may need ligament reconstruction surgery or, in the case of osteoarthritic knee instability, knee joint replacement. 

Sports Medicine Center offers compassionate treatment from a team that cares about your results. Book your appointment online, or call the office now.