7 signs your knee injury could be serious

Knee injuries are among the most common injuries in sports and exercise. Fortunately, among the patients I see in the office, most knee injuries do not require surgery.

If you suffer a knee injury, how can you know if it is serious and worth seeing an orthopaedic surgeon? This list is far from comprehensive, but here are seven signs you have a knee injury that might require surgery.

It goes without saying that the information in this post, like all of my content on this blog, on my podcast, and in social media, is not intended to provide specific medical advice. Please consult your doctor for any medical concerns.

Your knee is swollen.

It might not be a big deal for your knee to have a small amount of fluid present. On the other hand, if your knee swells up like a basketball in the first few hours after an injury, you could have an ACL tear or fracture.

You heard a pop.

I don’t mean a small pop like the one you feel when you crack your knuckles. I’m also not talking about the popping many of you feel under your kneecaps normally with knee motion. If you hear or feel a loud, painful pop during an awkward landing or when you get hit in the knee, you could have torn a ligament. Many athletes say that their teammates heard the pop when they tore their ACLs.

You can’t bear weight.

Knee injury in soccerExtreme pain trying to walk is somewhat of a generic complaint. Many injuries can be serious enough to cause pain when you try to put pressure on the injured leg. It is still a sign you might consider seeking medical attention.

Your knee buckled or gave way.

If your knee buckled when you landed from a jump or changed direction suddenly, you could have suffered ligament damage, such as an ACL tear. Alternatively, if you experience your knee giving out with twisting or landing movements in sports weeks or months after an injury, you should consider seeing a sports medicine doctor. True knee instability with activities can risk further damage to the meniscus or articular cartilage.

Your knee is locked.

Younger athletes can often tear the meniscus in such away that the inner, torn fragment can flip into the center of the knee and block motion. These bucket-handle meniscus tears often require surgery. The surgeon must push the meniscus back into place and repair it with sutures or anchors. Milder or more chronic forms of knee locking or catching also can suggest you have a meniscus tear.

You cannot fully extend the knee.

Pain, swelling, and inflammation after acute injuries can all make knee range of motion difficult. If a patient comes to my office days after an injury and I can’t straighten the knee, I get at least a little concerned. It can be a nonspecific finding, though. Regardless, I have often found ACL tears, acute meniscus tears, patellar dislocations, and more in these circumstances.

Your knee hurts in a very specific location.

Patients with meniscus tears usually complain of pain in a very specific spot along the joint line rather than throughout the knee. Medial meniscus tears often hurt along the medial (inside) and posterior (back) side of the knee. Lateral meniscus tears often cause pain along the lateral (outside) and posterior aspect of the knee. Likewise, stress fractures usually cause localized pain on the bone at the site of the fracture.

I hope that this list is helpful. Again, it is not comprehensive and not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If anything, I hope you would consider seeing your doctor sooner after injury if you have any of these complaints.

Sports medicine professionals – athletic trainers, physical therapists, and orthopaedic surgeons – are there any other findings you would add?

157 Responses to 7 signs your knee injury could be serious

    • I have had knee pains and IT band problems in both to left and right for over a year. Physical therapy helped after 4 months then the same pains came back. I also recieved cortisone shots in both and that did not do anything at all. Through an MRI my ortho doctor said I was born with a crack in my left knee cap and the bottoms of my knees that cause loud cracking are rough but he said nothing was wrong???? Is this something I should be concerned about? And what can I do I have pretty constant pain and am in the military so I am extremely worried please email me back as soon as you can. Thanks

      • I can’t really offer you too much advice without being involved in your care. Generally we don’t worry as much about popping in the knee, as many people have it despite having no pain. It can also be a sign of arthritis changes under the kneecap, and there aren’t easy treatments for that. You could discuss options for your pain with your orthopaedic surgeon.

    • I can extend my knee fully but it is hard and comes with pain at the bottom of my knee cap, I had jumper’s knee for 2 years. I can walk fine and go up stairs, coming down gives me some pain at the bottom of my knee cap, did I partially tear my patteller tendon?

      • It is hard to know without examining you, but pain at the insertion of the patellar tendon into the patella, especially with a small defect and difficulty performing a straight leg raise, could suggest a partial patellar tendon tear.

        • I fell and all my weight landed on my knee yesterday. On concrete. No swelling, doesn’t hurt to the touch, does hurt when I kneel, and only time it hurts is when I lock my leg. I can walk and run without pain. Only when I lock it. What do I have???

          P.s I have aau basketball tryouts tommorow

    • Someone pushed me outside my door I fell on my knee hard two weeks later it still hurts right below my knee cap under the soar…and when I been or gets into my bed my back calves hurt like its fluid or swollen but I have no fever but my back leg is still in pain and when I’m on my knees there’s a lot of pain still is something tore or broken??

    • I fell with all my weight straight on to my knee playing soccer two years ago almost. It was very painful at the time but gradually got better. Ever since then I randomly get a numb, aching pain in my knee. It can vary in severity and is really starting to bother me. Do you have any recommendations on how to relieve this? And to stop it occurring? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

      • Without knowing what is causing the pain, I can’t really suggest treatments to make it better. I generally recommend that if a person has symptoms that keep him from doing what he wants to do as well as he wants to do it, he should consider seeing an orthopedic surgeon.

  1. I was diagnosed with a sprained knee never got better had an MRI the day after I felt a pop and very painful

  2. Hello,
    I severely dislocated my knee cap six weeks ago. I have been walking on it for two weeks and making huge progress. However, I am not able to completely straighten my leg. The MRI showed no meniscus/ACL issue. I am in physical therapy however my leg just won’t straighten. What could this possibly be? I am very concerned and worried.

    • Without being involved and examining you, I can’t say if there is some mechanical block to extension, like a meniscal tear. Generally though, the lack of full extension of the knee could be serious. An orthopaedic surgeon can perform an exam and order an MRI if needed to find the problem.

  3. A day ago i was running and i fell right on my knee iits red and i can bearly straighten my knee and im just laying doown its really hurting for no reason i can even reall walk right

  4. I am going to try to summarize. A ski injury created partial tears in all ligaments in my right knee except meniscus. Had a mri and determined to be an extreme knee injury by an orthopedic surgeon Fast forward several years and I now get short periodic pain and failure to be able to fully extend leg. This pain is severe and last less then a day until I feel a pop or release. Immediately there is total relief of pain and a knee that is as normal as can be.
    I still ski, golf, hike and bike on a regular basis. Hard to get examined because it disappears.
    your best guess?

    • Without really being able to examine you and determine where in your knee the pop was coming from, I’m not sure I can point you in any particular direction. Sorry!

  5. In 2011 i triped and fell whilst out running on a pavent stone,and went down on my right knee,i went to the hospital they xrayed it and said there was nothing wrong with it,just bruised,Well several weeks later i was in the shower,and found when i put hot water on my left leg below knee i could feel it,But when i did the right it was totally knumb,I then got severe back ache and the hospital did a mri scan,to find my l3 l4 nerves were trapped in my spine,since 2011 ive had an operation on my spine and an operation on my knee,Could you tell me would this be the result of me falling and landing on my knee in 2011,at that time i was 52,im now 55,and disabled,need to wear knee brace without knee collapes,thank you,neil horne,huddersfield,uk.

    • I can’t say without examining you and looking at x-rays and an MRI. A patient with buckling or giving way of the knee might consider seeing an orthopaedic surgeon to see if any ligamentous injury exists.

  6. A person twisted my leg the wrong direction and my knee popped out I have had x ray and everything is still in tact but for the life of me I cannot bend my leg can’t force it either with hand what could be up with that?

    • Without examining you, I can’t really say. It is possible for a patient to have a mechanical block to motion (such as a loose body). An orthopaedic surgeon could deteremine if one exists and what it could be.

  7. long history with left knee…
    Medial tibial plateau fracture 7 years ago (I was 32 at the time), Schatzker 4 variant w/popliteal involvement. Several surgeries later, including fem-pop bypass & lateral uni-compartmental knee replacement.
    fast forward to current – we moved out of state, and can’t find an orthopedic surgeon to take my case (0 for 5). I’m “too high risk” because of the bypass, and I’m “too young” for even the uni-replacement – let alone consider doing anything further.
    The medial side of knee joint hurts sharply with any weight bearing, and I particularly can’t straighten it while standing/walking. It sorta feels like I’m culturing a pearl in there (If I had to imagine what an oyster goes through!), and it feels like my kneecap is grinding against sandpaper.
    Can’t feel anything on the lateral side – but then again, I have a hunk of metal on that side from the uni.

    ..without examining, of course, is this something that I simply have to live with? or should I start throwing darts at the orthopedic section phone book again?

    • I understand your frustration, but without being able to examine your knee and review studies, I can’t give you any specific answers to your questions. You might try the AOSSM website and use its Find a Doctor tool to find an orthopaedic surgeon in your area.

  8. I have had a history with my left knee, however at volleyball I jumped and heard and felt 2 pops, painful but I continued to play as I tolerate pain well. What are your suggestions?
    Please and thanks

  9. hi my name is adelaide burling i am 22 year old and i have a most common left knee injury and what happen was that i did my acl and i buckled my postier ligament it gotten to the point where i have joint effusion and plus the swelling of my left knee as been increasing and i have not been able to been able to get a opporation done yet due to western health footscray hospital recieptionist said to me it could weeks or longer so i had no choice and when it was july i found that i am pregnant and plus it stuffed up my chances of having my left knee injury done so i have to wait until the baby comes by next year though .

  10. i have popped my knee several time before. Like 5 by now. I had physical therepy and it helped, but it stayed in a weird position, a little turned the right than usual. It began to hurt so much i began to massage it and then i pushed the bottom part in by accident. It felt releiving for a moment but then it got swollen and it hurts worse now, also i feel something wants to pop out lately. I am really, really, really, scared, actually terrified, and incredibly worried .

  11. i want to stand and my knee pop i hadto sit right down it was instant paini took pain meds and used a hot pack then an ice pack it stop hurtin a bit but it hurts when i stad or try to move it a certain way i had a little swelling i can move it side to side without paind and i almost straighten it all the way out but it hurts when do what should i do next?

  12. I hurt my knee 2 yr ago and they said i had a strained mcl and acl and needed physical therapy i was supposed to do 3 or 4 weeks and only completed 1 now i can’t run at all and the other day i got hit by go kart and now my knee hurts to walk on and locks up what should i do

    • If a loose flap or piece of articular cartilage broke away, partially or completely, it could catch between the femur and tibia with range of motion.

  13. I got a knee injury last Saturday. I was riding a long board and I tried to get off my foot went into a curb and my left knee twisted to the left and I heard a loud pop. After going to the er they couldn’t tell with an x-ray so they sent me to the orthopedics. Thin is the ortho kept talking over me. I didn’t get to tell him I can’t bend my knee. I can almost straighten it but I can’t bend it into a sitting position. Any ideas what it might be?

    • I can’t tell you in your case specifically. Lack of flexion early after a knee injury can be related to swelling within the joint. It can also be caused by some block to motion, like a meniscus tear or loose piece of articular cartilage.

  14. I had no injury what so ever, had bad knees since i was 11.

    last week my keft knee started feeling uncomfortable to walk on, and everyday since then has gotten worse, now 11 days after still getting worse(Pain started day 9 followed by cracking) . The 7th day got a mri and the conclusion of my results:

    - Abnormal Patellar and Trochlear Morphology and Patellar Malalignment.
    - Grade 3 Chondromalacia Patellae.
    - Infrapatellar Fat Pad Impingement.
    - Joint Effusion with Synovitis.

    Im seeing the surgeon tomorrow as apprantly i need surgery this week before i end up crippled.(im only 23)

    i was originally seeing him for my right knee as ive had multiple dislocations on my R knee for the past 10 years and only in the past 7 months, ive had daily dislocations everytime i walk, so not sure if that would have anything to do with my left knee.

    (So, now im having surgery on my left knee, Then my right knee.)

    So my Question is, do you have any opionions on this?

    Thank You

    • I can’t really say too much without examining you and looking at your studies, so your orthopaedic surgeon should be able to help more. Patellar instability, especially when caused by bony abnormalities of the femur, can be a tricky problem and often requires extensive surgical procedures.

  15. I landed heavily straight on my knee whilst playing futsal. Immediately felt pain and that it wasn’t aligned correctly. It felt as though my foot was facing out more. Hobbled to the bench where I then tried to find out what was wrong. Can’t bend my leg back sometimes as is locking up. And hurt a lot that night when rolling over in bed with the twisting motion. I can straighten it and put weight on it to walk. Am going to a doctor today but interested to know your thoughts with what it might or might not be.

    • It’s hard for me to say without examining your knee. Inability to straighten the knee or bear weight are some of the signs for a potentially serious knee injury.

  16. I’ve never had an injury to either one of my knees. However, I do have severe neuropathy. I am unable to bed either one of my legs to walk. It’s like having two baseball bats attached at the hip. I’ve had a CT of the spine which showed a herniated disc at T8-T9 as well as an EMG which just showed that I have neuropathy. I have seen 5 different neurologists and none of them have ever seen “postured” legs like mine that just won’t bend. I am able to bend my legs to sit, but thats about it. My calf muscles are always tight, they never relax… they are always contacted. Any advice you have.. Im all ears! Thanks a lot

  17. I twisted on my knee when getting up after sitting on the floor. I now cannot extend my knee fully and have pain in my calf when trying to do so, I can walk pain free on a slightly bent knee. This happened today should I seek help or rest and pain killerss
    Thank you

    • I can’t tell you what to do. Generally I think seeing an orthopaedic surgeon for a knee injury that is not improving is a good idea for many people.

  18. I was playing soccer about 2 months ago when I twisted my left knee funny. I couldn’t straighten it out fully for about 5 days then I could but it still hurt. It hurt mildly sometimes then I went sleding and stacked it and after I stopped tumbling my knee hurt like really bad. It hurt around the front/lateral side and is extremely painful if I put weight on the sides of my knee. I get sharp pain and then constant pain. There is thus thing that clicks if u rub your finger on it above/beside my knee cap on the lateral side which wasn’t there before. It has been two weeks now and it us no better. What do u think it is

    • I really can’t say without examining it/you. You might consider seeing an orthopaedic surgeon if you still have trouble weeks out from the injury.

  19. My sister who is 14 has a history of knee problems and in July her knee locked up and doctors at the time thought that she had torn the meniscus in her right leg even though they did not carry ANY x-rays or MRI scans. Nearly 3 months on she still can’t put any weight on the leg even though she’s been receiving hydrotherapy and physio and is in a lot of pain. I’d be interested to know your thoughts

    • I don’t know that I can shed much light on it without being involved as her doctor. X-rays and MRI can demonstrate structural damage after an episode of knee locking.

  20. I was playing basketball two days ago I jumped up and landed on my leg fully extended locked and I felt inward pressure to my knee when I landed and imidiatly fell to ground and felt a lot of paint waited a few minutes and started to play again. My knee didn’t get swollen but have small pain when I extend leg and try to lock it in place. My question is what kind of damage can be cause to the knee when lading on it like that?

    • A knee injury suffered by landing on the foot with the knee fully extended can cause a number of different structures to be damaged, such as the ACL, one or both of the menisci, and the articular cartilage.

  21. Three days ago I was hit in the knee it hurt really bad at the moment I played the rest of the football game in discomfort. It swelled upright bellow the knee cap to the left. It hut for 2 days really bad but now it is better and doesn’t hurt much unless I’m sitting and not moving. What do you think

    • I can’t give you specific information. Generally if an athlete or active person improves within a few days, he or she can observe it and try to return to activities and see how the knee does.

  22. this rail or something hit my leg and on this specific side it hurts and when i poke on the right side of my knee some thing on the left side moves what should i do

  23. Hi Dr David,

    I had a fall a week ago. My weight is around 100kg and I’m standing on 176m tall. I fall on my left knee. I was scared that it got something to do with my bone. But on my referral letter to see orthopaedic stated my diagnosis with Contusion of Left Knee. Yes I did has bruised on my knee. I started with walking with crutches. And now I can walk without crutches. But my concern and fear is, I am still scared to bear weight on my left knee. As I felt loosen on my joint.I don’t feel pain. I am just scared if my knee able to bear my weight if I press and walk like normal. What is your opinion?

    I appreciate your assistance.

    Thank You

    • I can’t really say, but the orthopedic surgeon can tell you whether weight bearing is safe. Generally for simple walking, I don’t restrict a patient from bearing weight unless it causes significant pain or causes the knee to lock, catch or give way. But again, it depends on the nature of the injury.

  24. I feel on my left knee with all my weight back on January 17th and cant seem to get a straight answer of what is wrong and why its not getting better almost 10 months later. Ive had an xray and mri done and both showed normal. I’ve seen my normal doctor multiple times and no help, ive seen a knee orthopedic and they said I have runners knee and to do physical therapy and wear a knee brace both of which did not help the brace actually made it worse, the pain has gotten so bad that I went to the er because nothing is taking the pain away nor am I sleeping very well. The er doctor looked over both the xray and mri from January and saw nothing wrong and no runners knee either. He said that the pain I’m having sounds like a torn miniscus but that its boy since the mri was normal. My entire leg hurts it burns, stabbing pains, tearing pains, and sharp pains but no one can seem to help me. I feel like its going to have to get to where I cant walk on it at all before someone will help.

    • Jessica, that does sound frustrating. Meniscus tears almost always show up on an MRI. Without being involved, I don’t think I can give you too much information on particular injuries or their treatments. I hope you find an answer!

  25. Hey doc, I have some scary news. In two months I’m supposed to go out to Alberta to be a ski instructor and today I did something to my knee where it hurts to move up and down and I have pain when I fully outstretch it. I’m going to go see emerge right now, but I need to heal up in 2 months time. Please help me fulfill this goal! I’m very scared and I took a gap year so I could do this and now I’m injured!!!!! Please help me. Should I do stretching, ice, how often for both, nothing hurts when I poke anywhere around the injury which makes me even more scared.

    • I don’t know that I can help too much without knowing what the injury is. Your orthopedic surgeon can give you specific advice. Generally frequent ice and elevation to get the swelling of the knee down and working to regain full knee flexion and extension can be important in the first few days after a knee injury.

  26. hey the other day i hit a car fall off my bike and landed on my right knee. now left side of my right knee is swollen, now it hurt when i walk up the stair and down, and it hurt when i try to get up

  27. Hi Doc,last month playing softball I was taken out by my knee. I played the whole game in discomfort, but just thought it was badly bruised. It swelled up right away and had X-ray. Nothing was broke but still a month later I have a knot above my knee cap.I can walk on it, but it pops and I feel like there is air underneath my kneecap. I’m scheduled for an mri tomorrow my question is, will they be able to see if anything is torn or pulled (I have arthritis ) and if so will surgery be necessary??

    • Yes Lauren, an MRI can show injuries to the meniscus, tendons, cartilage, and ligaments in your knee to help your surgeon determine treatment options.

  28. My problem has now existed for about 3 months. I thought the pain would go away. Yes I one of those guys who try to tough things. Any how, my pain is located on my right knee, specifically on the inside left (top part inside left towards knee cap but not on the knee cap) I can not run, it is uncomfortable to walk an distance and I can balance or stand on the rich leg in a locked position without extreme pain and the knee giving way. I am headed in this week to have it looked at. Any initial thoughts or gut instinct thoughts?

    Cheers,
    Roger

    • I can’t say too much without examining you, but your orthopedic surgeon should be able to determine a cause. There are many structures on the medial side (inside) of the knee that can cause pain in that area – meniscus, MCL, hamstring tendons, patellar ligaments, plica, etc.

  29. wow…sorry for the typos in my question. Meant to say I ca not stand on my right knee in a locked position without extreme pain and the knee buckling.

    Cheers,
    roger

  30. I lost control of a scooter when rearly being hit by a car and my toe hit the asphalt and twisted my foot outward and could not dear weight.
    Two weeks later the two fractures below the knee cap and alignment of leg seems to be ok and I can bear weight and walk with the aid of crutches.
    The problem is there is still what seems like swelling or fluid just above my knee cap and I can’t bent my lower leg back to my butt however it is ok straight outward and 90-degrees downward sitting down (can’t bend lower leg farther than 90-degrees in sitting position)
    Can you let me know if this might just be swelling or a serious problem with a liagament

    Thanks,

    Morris MIller

    • If a person continues to have swelling and inability to fully extend or flex the knee, it is possible that he or she has suffered some kind of structural damage in the knee. An orthopedic surgeon can perform and exam and get x-rays to help in the diagnosis.

  31. I was on the back of a four wheeler. My boyfriend and I was going a little fast when we flipped. My leg was bent very awkwardly. My shown was thrown behind me. Now my knee hurts so bad I can barely walk on it. I can’t bend it at all. I also can’t fully extend it… please help!! I don’t have the money to go to the specialist

  32. I twisted knee when i was playing touch rugby over a year ago. I heard a pop sound. But it is not swollen right after that. After for like 6 hours it started to be swollen. I already see my doctor and he said nothing is wrong with my knee just put some ice on it at home. But then, i know there is something wrong with it, because i cant barely walk after a day i twisted my knee and when its recovered. I tried to play sports. But i cannot. If i take on a wrong steps, i can feel like i dislocate it and i started to fall. Do you have any idea how to get it back normal again? Like i can do my normal routine like hiking and jogging and i really want to get back to play rugby again. Pls help me on this

  33. My knee and calf were sore for 1 day with no explanation. Then I was hiking yesterday and going down hill on a stairway type path. Heard/felt a loud pop & instantly went down. Haven’t really been able to walk since. Slight swelling in the knee and no pain to the touch. I have full functionality of my foot, ankle and calf. I can put slight pressure on my knee if I keep my toes pointed outward as I walk with crutch. Im trying heating pad now after ice all night. I’m driving myself nuts with WebMD and such. Any thoughts?

    • I think ice can be helpful to decrease swelling after an acute knee injury. then a person can see how his or her knee does and if he or she has any of the signs I discussed in the post.

  34. Hi Dr. David!

    I love your site. I know you can’t tell me much without examining me, but I would just like a little input. I’m 28 and have no real history of knee injury with the exception of Osgood–Schlatter disease as an adolescent. Over the last 6 years I have experienced knee locking with simple twisting activities (twisting to get something from the back seat of car, twisting knee when simply plopping down on couch etc.). When this happens I have intense pain, and it is not possible to extend my knee (it feels like I will tear something if I attempt to extend, but I can’t actively extend even if I try). When this happens I manually pull my foot/ankle towards my thigh, my knee will audibly and visibly pop, and I can start to move my leg again (the knee pop is always painful and I will usually feel a nerve tingle). This only happens 1 or 2 times per year.

    I’m just wondering since this locking happens so sparingly if I should even bother to get it checked out. It doesn’t interfere with my daily activities. I’m even a marathon runner and my knee doesn’t bother me with long distance running. The only real knee complaint I have is regular cracking, which I have always assumed is normal, since it’s not associated with pain. Any thoughts?

    • I don’t ever think it is a bad idea to see an orthopedic surgeon if a person has locking or catching of the knee or sharp pain with twisting movements. generally crepitus – the grinding sensation under the kneecap that many people have – is normal and not a sign of anything worrisome.

  35. Hey, I was playing basketball yesterday on floorboards, I jumped up to get the ball and was pushed from behind. Well I pretty much just had my whole weight land on my knee. It is slightly swollen and quite sore to walk on. Is there anything bad or is it just bruising. Also what should I do to speed up the recovery as I want to get back into action. Btw I’m 14

    • I don’t know that there is anything I could tell you to speed up recovery without knowing the extent of the injury.The signs I mentioned in the post can help to determine if anything could have been damaged

  36. I injured my ankle months ago, around March or so and ever since my ankle has not heeled. I don’t know but I think that maybe it’s because of something with my knee. Sometimes my knee locks and I can’t move it until like a few seconds later. And Its also in the same leg. What do you think?

    • It could be. If a knee is locking, or getting stuck in a certain position where a patient cannot fully extend or flex it, then it can be worthwhile to see a doctor and find a possible cause.

  37. hi can u help me please?? i hurt my knee about 5 months ago while walking down a hill. Went to an otho doc and gave me a shot. Few months go by go to another othro do had mri and he said i tore a muscle in my knee lateral of the meniscous he gave me a knee brace, told me to stay off of it (not possible have a 2 yr old and right knee) then said to come back in 8 weeks. He said it shld heal within 2 weeks like i said been 5mos. My question is do i need a second opinion??? i keep hearing tht if it tears more its unfixable and eventually wld have to have a total knee replacement??

    • I honestly don’t know. I never think a patient getting a second opinion is a bad idea if they don’t feel comfortable with the diagnosis or treatment plan from the first doctor.

  38. I just recent started with Roller Derby. The first time I try to past a laps test ended with a pain in the outside upper part of my left knee. I figure out later streching help. But the knee sometimes swollen but goes down it used to lucked but some movement very seldom.very seldom as well If I strength it it hurts some no much really. But I am able to run with no pain and walk fine. Any suggestions

  39. I had a boating accident about 5 weeks ago had an MRI which showed a sprain with swelling. Do you know about how long that takes to heal?

  40. I had two knee surgeries acl in 1999 and MCL replaced in 2002 now that have atorn menicus of the radial cuff a baker cyst and chip knee cap ,also osteoarthritis . I tried orthovisc gel injections had to stop after two injections,my new reacting badly to it. Next is a cortisone shot . would it be to do a third knee surgery ????? I’m only 31

    • Deciding if surgery for a meniscus tear is warranted when a patient has coexisting osteoarthritis can be difficult. Your surgeon can help you decide if your symptoms seem to be coming mainly from a meniscus tear, for which arthroscopic surgery can be helpful, versus arthritis, for which it often doesn’t help much long term.

  41. Hi there,

    I did a workout last night with a lot of jumping around/pivoting/kicking/punching etc.

    I woke up this morning and my right knee was in agony when turning over in bed (left knee perfectly fine!) As I stood – the pain radiated from the outer left side to the back of the knee when extending my leg fully or bending upwards past a certain point (eg climbing into my husband’s Dodge 2500).

    I’m usually a fast walker and can jump up and walk anywhere (I’m only 34); but now when I stand, it takes a few moments for the pain to stop before I can carefully walk (hobble) with minimal pain. I can’t pivot or turn with that leg or else I’ll be on the ground (same goes with turning my foot of that leg and putting pressure on it, it hurts to turn my foot inwards even with no pressure)

    I don’t recall injuring myself during my workout, and my husband wants me to stop doing them (I can’t, I am 50 lbs overweight and need the activity as I have a very sedentary job). Do you think I would be okay to moderate the workouts (e.g stepping out instead of jumping etc)?

    I’m able to comfortably do squats (yay!)

    Any suggestions on my best treatment? Any exercises that might help me strengthen it back up again?

    Thank you!!

      • It is hard to say, honestly. Generally without a specific event, most athletes and athletic people can modify activities for a few days to see if the symptoms go away. If they don’t, then seeing a doctor or orthopedic surgeon can be helpful.

  42. My symptoms are none of the above. I have no knee pain in normal activities, however if I bend the left knee past 90 deg, I get pain on the medial inside area. The more I bend it, the more the pain. It had initially felt like a general wrenching pain somewhere in the center of the knee, however now it seems to be more toward the medial front. Your suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Meniscus tears can often cause one-sided joint line pain with full flexion of the knee. Osteoarthritis changes could do that as well, although the pain is often more diffuse through the knee.

  43. Thanks for the feedback. It actually seems to be gradually improving over the last couple of days as I flex it a few times a day, so perhaps it will resolve in time. It’s back to a more diffuse pain deep inside the joint, so maybe OA as you suggested.

  44. Hello sir,
    I will be really greatful if you help me out, please.
    I am an obese girl with sedentary lifestyle. I am 26 years old.

    Around 2 months before while exercising on cross-trainer my left knee started aching, and i stopped exercising immediately. It continued to ache for 2 days…it was a bearable pain. I was frightened and optec not to exercise for 1 week and later instead of choosing cross-trainer, i used treadmill to exercise. Normally i can brisk-walk on treadmill for 30 minutes but ….but this time within 10 minutes of walking my left knee started to ache again…now this time i was really very frightened and stopped exercising

    Thereafter , there was no pain, but while standing a very few incidences happened that made me feel that my left knee was locked…for a few seconds …where i just cannot move it and a slight pain occured for few minutes. I exprienced this around 5 times on various occassions.

    Today, i took a walk again, and within 15 minutes i felt that the movement of my left knee is not as swift as that of right one, and it was not normal…..while moving left leg i startec feeling two movements…one was my foot touching the ground i.e., of lower leg and later with a minute difficulty of upper leg moving forward……it was like as if my leg was broken into 2 parts.

    Is there anything serious, or am just too bothered. Is this normal. Should i see a doctor. Can there be some injury?

    • There could be an injury, especially if a person has a feeling of the knee giving way. An orthopaedic surgeon could help you figure out the cause of your symptoms.

  45. hello, i fell in my shower about 11 days ago.i remember pulling my leg to put in front of me since it was bent back. went to the ER and was told a knee sprain, wrapped with ace bandage, ice packs and was handed crutches (being 51 never had broken bones or sprains). i was told to follow up with my primary doctor and if needed an ortho. my knee looks normal again, some tightness in my calve muscles and when bending. i can now place my foot on the floor, i use the crutches as if i am skiing,i shuffle, i am so afraid to bare total weight on this leg. i been out of work for this and the type of work i do is being on my feet for over 8hrs a day. how can i get over this fear? just to be able to walk again and get back to work .thanks

    • Honestly I don’t know an easy answer. Seeing an orthopedic surgeon to determine a patient’s extent of damage can be a good idea after a traumatic knee injury.

  46. I’m a 15 year old and today when I was running flat out my knee just gave and buckled. I could feel a pop and I can not put any weight on said knee. The pain is centalized to just left of my left kneecap and any twisting or fast movements hurt. It hurt immediately but gave way to shock very quickly. I would like your opinon on this doctor.

  47. Hi
    I understand you do not give specific info. But I was wondering if I should see a doctor or just rest longer. I fell 8 days ago. A very big bruise and swelling occured immediately. I have rested up iced it elevated took anti inflammatories. I still have a big lump , I’m assuming its fluid as its soft. Would I have to get it drained or will it occur naturally.. it is still tender and sore to touch and walking for a long period.
    Thank you for your time

    • Generally large collections of fluid – either blood or joint fluid – resolve with rest, ice and anti-inflammatories. An orthopedic surgeon might help you figure out ways to get back to normal faster.

  48. Hi, excellent site and a lot helpful advice sought and given.

    Knees, the bain of my life over the last 6 months. First, Mr right knee shows signs of locking, crepitus for sure and pain just above and to the left middle. No apparent injury, but did observe bruising near the thigh / knee muscle connection in the early days. I am 42 and put it down to active sporting career, football now mainly.

    To top it all, my left knee has now reacted in the same way, similar difficulties walking upstairs and catching me when I least expect it.

    Any ideas what the cause may be and how would you recommend getting through this phase. Lying down an tensing my legs is sure way of bringing on the pain but my physio doesn’t seem there’s anything wrong them mechanically as far as ligament damage is concerned. I’m drinking plenty of fluids in case a hydration issue.

    Thanks in advance of a reply.

    • I really can’t give you speicific advice. Some of the issues you mention sound like they could be related to the patella (kneecap). Often strengthening programs can help a patient resolve patellofemoral pain.

  49. Hello, im an 18 year old male. My knees have both given me trouble for several years now, with my right knee being more severe. They pop, all the time, and never without pain. My right knee often seizes and has to be popped into motion again. Lately, I cannot straighten my knee without severe pain and a buckling sensation when I break the barrier my knee tries to lock at. I went to an orthopedic about it, and they refused to mri, only doing an xray. The xray showed my kneecaps were slightly dislocated but did not match with my symptoms nor pain level. Is there any chance you could shed some light on what it may be? Or if I should pursue an appointment?

    • I really can’t say without examining you. Abnormal tracking of the kneecap can certainly cause popping, although many other problems, like a meniscus tear, can as well. If a person’s pain is related to the kneecap, physical therapy can often resolve the pain and return the person to normal activity. Other problems often require and MRI to diagnose.

  50. It has now been 7 weeks since boating accident. I still have slight pain in knee. MRI showed minimal horizontal linear signal within the posterior horn of the medial meniscus. Do you know how long until that will heal completely and have no pain?

    • Meniscus tears generally don’t heal very often. If they go on to heal, or if a patient’s pain goes away spontaneously, I would think it could take weeks or months.

  51. Have Morton’s neuroma on left foot been wearing aircast. Four days later back of knee hurts bad. I can ride a stationery bike but cant get full range of motion when walking. Can bend leg also can straighten but with pain. Can pain be from awkwardness from aircast that caused pain in opposite leg? Thanks

  52. Hi Dr. Geier,

    About 4 weeks ago, I fell from sitting on a stool. Instead of falling back, I fell on my left knee, directly on my (medial femoral condyle). The first week all the pain was coming from the medial part. I have full flexion of my knee, but lack the ability of full extension. I can maybe only extend it to 30 degrees. Went to urgent care for x-ray, results were negative. Physician referred me to have an MRI done. After the injury, my knee never really swelled up. I just had a lot of pain in the medial part of knee. Any idea, of what injury this may be? Also, any chance my knee heels improperly and I stay walking with my knee bent forever?

    Thanks!!

    • It’s really hard to say without being able to examine you or see the MRI. Your doctor should be able to give you more specific information. I hope it turns out well!

  53. Hello. About a month ago, I went to the farm. I was putting chickens in crates and one was trying to get out of the crate so I tried catching it with my knee and it popped. It still hurts and feels sore when my leg extends…..any help?

  54. Hi,
    I know you can say exactly as you have not examined me, but a year ago now I was tackled to the ground quite hard by 2 larger males I’m only 53kgs, I’ve come down and straight away my left knee was in pain, I could still walk though, every now and then it seizes up and is so painful as I wait for my knee to pop/crack back into place, now the last week it has started swelling up and is so painful to even walk or pick things up, I can’t straighten my leg out as inside knee starts really hurting, and I can can’t turn my knee towards the right it starts hurting also, I thought I may of just sprained it or twisted it the wrong way but after a year its getting so much worse.

  55. Hi, I am an otherwise healthy 51 yr old woman who is going through the menopause. I have had a grumbling pain in my right hip for 3yrs which recently has got much worse causing me to limp a lot. About a month ago I started to get pain in my right knee and now I can’t straighten my right leg at all without pain in my knee joint. It’s painfull to walk long distances and also jars if I turn quickly or change direction when I’m walking. I’m reluctant to see my GP as she just says ” well you’re not getting any younger you know”. Should I be worried about this or soldier on?
    Kind Regards
    Amanda

    • I generally feel that people who can exercise, play sports or do their normal activities due to a musculoskeletal injury should see an orthopedic surgeon to determine the cause of the symptoms and find a treatment strategy.

  56. I have pain in my knee in the front inner knee when i bend it while bearing weight at the same time. I can bend my knee and lift it up no problem but I cant squat or go up stairs. I really feels like it will give out and the pain is worsening. I went to a physio and he said my inner thigh muscles are not developed enough so it is pulling my knee cap outwards and i have to strengthen my legs. I play volleyball and i have been doing small exercises and squats (cant anymore) but it is getting worse. I never injured it as far as I know and I recently gained 30 lbs in two months. What do you think it could be?

    • I can’t really say without examining you, as there are many causes of medial knee pain. You might see an orthopedic surgeon to get a diagnosis and discuss treatment options.

  57. Hi Dr David few days ago I sprain my ankle and after a week it’s better now but I’m starting have pain in my knee any ideas why ? Thank you

    • Sometimes an injury in one joint causes a patient to change his gait slightly and stresses other joints. I don’t know if that is occurring with you, but we see it frequently.

  58. I had a TKR 5 years ago. In January, I started working out and have lost 60 lbs. I don’t run or jump and never lift over 50 lbs of weights. I do some hiking, but only 2-3 miles at a time and don’t consider it strenuous. Last week, my replaced knee started bothering me a little and now, I can’t straighten it all the way without severe pain and every now and then when I step on it, I get severe shooting pain for just a second. There is no pain unless i try to straighten or bend beyone 90 degrees. It’s concerning to me and I wonder if you know what the problem could be or if you think it’s serious? It’s keeping me from working out; I can’t even ride the exercise bike.

    • It is hard to know without seeing you if there is scar tissue or a problem with the components or if there is nothing worrisome going on. You might see your surgeon and find out if you have a serious problem. I hope it works out!

  59. Not sure what I did to back of knee, no sudden trama or pop just started to hurt bad. It has been 12 days since start of pain back there. I went ER yesterday they performed ultrasound to rule out blood clot or Bakers cyst. Ultrasound came back negative. I can walk downstairs and up the stairs but i cant walk with full motion in general. I can bend and straighten my knee pretty much no problem. One of my friends says it could a meniscus tear :( would it possible to be able to walk up and down stairs and have a tear?

    Im saving now to get MRI, but no sure what to do in mean. I haven’t exercised in two weeks. Nervous to even ride a stationary bike or elliptical.
    Any advice would be apprecited

    • Pain in the back of the knee can come from a meniscus tear, although there can be other causes. Usually a patient has pain with twisting motions or deep squats, but pain with stairs and other impact can be present too.

  60. Hi, been reading some of the comments hoping to find my problem. Left leg (entire) feels like all the ligaments are pulling. If I turn my knee outward (as in sitting Indian style), I have shooting pain into the sole of my foot. Can straighten the knee but not bend it all the way, so sitting down I have to use caution. I don’t trust that I can walk without falling anymore. But am ok if I know it’s due to a knee injury, but wondering why it is affecting the foot so much, that is really painful when moving my leg. uggghhhh seeing the Orthro Surgeon the end of the week for the 1st visit. But any ideas?

    • Your orthopedic surgeon will be able to give you specific advice and help you determine if you have a knee injury as the cause of your symptoms or some back or neurologic issue.

  61. So 2 weeks ago, Today I was hit in the bottom, outer part of my knee by a hockey stick with extreme force. It swelled up, has bruised and took me a long while to be able to straighten it and bend it (but not fully). It is painful to walk on without limping and also when walking up and down stairs, especially when walking upstairs I can feel it about to click until it does, at least once whilst bringing with it a lot of pain. I can virtually straighten it but cannot stand on it without feeling pain. I went to the doctors just over 1 week ago and was diagnosed with just bad bruising and blood in the joint area, restricting movement. I was told to go back if I was still in pain the following week or so, and still feeling pain wondering whether I should go back. I don’t think it feels like a bruise and the visible bruising has nearly gone down. What re your views? Should I go back to doctors or does it just sound like a bruise? Thanks :)

  62. About 4 months ago I twisted my right knee while my foot stayed planted. I ignored the swelling and stiffness due to planning my daughter!s wedding. A week ago I saw my GP who had me do z-rays and then an MRI. A tear in the cartlidge was found. I won’t be seen by Ortho until January, how do I manage pain and protect my knee from further damage until I see the Ortho?

  63. I was playing a football game and a kid purposely steps on my knee and i didnt play after that and cant walk on it

  64. Hi, since running in July my left knee suddenly became very sore and swollen and has only gotten worse. Hurts primarily when getting up, standing, walking, sleeping (aches). I have seen a sports dr and had an X-ray. The X-ray showed a healthy knee so the suspicion is perhaps a meniscus tear and have an MRI scheduled (not until march unfortunately). I am in pain daily And find it hard walking on it, but movement and light exercise does help. Going to a sports chiropractor and he massages, stretches and tapes the knee in hopes of alleviating some of the swelling. That is his concern, is the fact that the swelling never seems to go down. By the end of the day the only way I can describe it is that my knee is full from front to back with cotton. Also going on 5 months with this and from I have read with exercise, supplements, proper stretches and physio meniscus tear should heal with 4-6 weeks.

  65. so in the recent 2-3 weeks i have been noticing that when i sit or squat or basicly bend my knee for a period of time and then straighten it that it sometimes pops sometimes not hurting when it pops but other times it feels as if someone just like punched me so also when i straighten it always hurts sometimes more than other times but it is usually worse as in it throbs and feels as if ive been punched on my kneecap and i sometimes have to sit right back down because it hurts to the point that i am almost in tears and i told my parents that when i straighten my leg and my lower bone on my kneecap and it gets to a certain place it hurts a lot and all they say is that i need to stretch more often but when i try the stretches it hurts a lot and they tell me that it will help but how can it hurting while stretching help it seems as if it should make it worse…… i need a proffessionals view … my parents wont let me go to the chiropracter to see if it is serious because they both dont want to “waist ” money as they said and that it would cost too much … another thing u should facter in is that i am a soccer player at the age of 13 and when i was younger i had a problem with my legs suddenly collapsing under me and me falling during p.e. class …….. could u please tell me what u think might be the problem … please … i am just tired of not knowing how to help it .. so if u could tell me what i think is wrong and if it might be serious i would appreciate it so super much

  66. so when ii sit down or squat or basicly bend my knees and then straighten them to a certain point then my whole kneecap has a stabbing pain almost like someone was shoving something hard up the bottom side of my kneecap and the pain stays as long as 1-5 minutes

    • I don’t know if this is your problem, so you might want to consult a doctor for specific advice. Patellofemoral pain can cause pain under the kneecap and throughout the knee with sitting with the knee bent for long periods of time. Popping or grinding under the kneecap is a common sensation people report as well.

  67. I have been to the doctor many times and have been in physical therapy for about 9 months and my knee still isn’t getting any better. They have told me that the ligament that holds my kneecap in place is loose but they can’t do surgery until I stop growing. Now sometimes I cant control it, my muscles will start contracting and I can’t stop it. Also, it pops and cracks a lot I can hear it as well as my friends and some of the people around me. The doctor gave me pain killers awhile ago but they don’t work. And most of the time I can’t walk very well because of the popping, cracking, and my kneecap is slid out. Should I go back to the doctor and if so what do I tell him?

    • Surgery for patellar instability can be tricky for patients who have open growth plates. There are surgical options in young patients, but there is concern of higher failure rates. Physical therapy, braces and activity modification are generally the other options we try.

  68. My knee has been bothering me since I was in an accident back in september. I sprained my knee & wore a knee wrap for a week or so. I was able to gradually start running again a week afterwards but my knee would swell up afterwards. Then that stopped for a while and I’d have pain around the kneecap like i did after the accident. And I’m still having trouble with my knee it doesnt swell but it hurts on the inside of my knee along the right side. It sometimes causes my foot to go numb & hv a little pain along the right side of it. I took asprin but it only helped a little. Running doesnt make it hurt any worse all the time. But every so often my knee locks on me & I have to physically unlock it & it’ll give out sometimes also. Right now the pains at a 3, 3 1/2. I wouldve thought the sprain wouldve been healed by now & it should be. So I think it may have been overlooked. What could it be? I have no trouble walking or running my foot just goes totally numb for a few min. Should I go back to the doctor?

    • Paris, it is really hard to say, but visiting your orthopaedic surgeon might be worthwhile to figure out why your knee is locking.

  69. Hi, I was playing softball a few weeks ago and slid into second base on my left knee. I had hit it hard on the clay and scraped it up and from the impact it was really sore. I played the rest of the game with my adrenaline helping me thru the game. After words when I got home it was just a little sore. Didn’t hurt to bend it or move it. I got in to bed the next day on that left knee and felt a sharp pain in it. Hard to bare. I felt around on my knee and couldn’t find the spot that it hurt. I did notice that the scabbed area was numb. I couldn’t feel my daughter pushing on my scab or in that area. Now a couple weeks have passed the scab is gone and the area is still numb and I still get a jolt of pain if I get on that one knee just right. Is this a major problem that can be permanent as far as the jolting pain or the numb feeling in my kneecap? Have I waited to long? Also, I am Flooring Contractor and I use my knees everyday and i haven’t felt the pain when on both knees… Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you…

    • Patrick, I really cannot give you a specific answer to your question, as I haven’t seen you as a patient or examined you or seen any radiographic studies. I doubt you have waited too long, so an orthopedic surgeon should be able to help you. I haven’t seen nerve injuries landing on the knee myself, so I’m not sure I can speculate as to the cause of the numbness. Hopefully the surgeon can help you after he examines your knee.

  70. When I was playing basketball I came down in a weird position. When I came down my knee was twisted and I felt my knee pop when I fell. The swelling went away and I can extend my leg straight out. Sometimes when I twist my legs again I feel my knee pop again and it hurts a lot and I can’t walk. Then when I extend it out straight out, I hear another pop and I can walk again. Do you know what this is?

    • There are many reasons for knee popping, ranging from tracking issues with the patella to cartilage damage to meniscus tear to popping for normal reasons.

  71. Hi, about 2 years ago i tore a ligament in my knee and let it heal on its own then when it was healed i ran and my knee poped out then went back in again and it hurt also till this day it still does that and i cant ran and after that i went to the doctor and said nothing was wrong with it

Leave a reply

applications-education-miscellaneous.png
Please note: I cannot and will not provide specific medical information within these comments, just as I won't anywhere else. Also, I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, or spam. If you have questions, please read My Comments Policy.
 

ABOUT ME
david-headshot I am an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Charleston, South Carolina.

On this blog, on my podcast, and in articles for numerous publications and in media interviews, I aim to provide you leading commentary and education on injury treatment and prevention to keep you performing at your best! Learn more about me >>


MEDIA

I'm excited to help with information and interviews for print, radio, television, and online media. Media information >>

WRITING

Writing I write articles and columns for a number of publications and organizations. Writing information >>
Sports Medicine Simplified: A Glossary of Sports Injuries, Treatments, Prevention and Much More

glossary-cover
Learn more about the glossary >>
© 2014 Dr. David Geier Enterprises, LLC

Site Designed by Launch Yourself