Serious Knee Injury Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore…

If you’re suffering from knee injury symptoms, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll disclose everything you need to know about knee injury symptoms you shouldn’t ignore. We’ll even disclose at the end how knee physical therapy can help you prevent a surgery and get back on your feet.

An estimated 6.6 million knee injuries were presented to emergence departments of U.S. from 1999 to 2008. – Research

You experience swelling and pain while twisting. You smashed into another player and received bruising in the knee, or you have been suffering from knee pain for more than four weeks, and you see no scope of betterment, even after rest. Perhaps, you may even have a knee that “pops” or “catches” when going up and down the stairs or going for long walks. All these symptoms clearly indicate only one thing – you are suffering from a potential serious knee injury or issues.

Though knee injuries are common, they have high chances to worsen with ignorance. Both contact and non-contact knee injuries should be taken seriously. Here are top signs to determine whether you are suffering from severe knee injury or issues.

Swollen Knee Injury Symptoms

Swelling in knee, immediately or shortly after an injury, is one of the most common signs that you have sustained a severe knee injury. It is a serious knee injury symptom. Though in many instances, the swelling is the result of blood clotting, swelling remains. If you are unsure and your knee is now swollen immediately, you can feel the injured and normal knee by placing hand on each one to compare the two. A swollen knee feels more like a large sac, filled with warm fluid. The symptom indicates a serious cartilage or ligament injury in the knee in most cases. It may be due to a tear of the ACL, patella or kneecap dislocation, an MCL tear or an injury to the articular cartilage.

If you experience any of the above, it is advisable to follow RICE principle for knee recovery injury – rest and reduce activity, apply ice pack several times a day, compress i.e. wrap the knee with a soft knee sleeve brace, elevate your knee above the level of heart.

You Can’t Straighten Your Leg

Having trouble in straightening your leg? This is another common knee injury symptom. It is commonly also termed as “locked knee”. The prime reason for a locked knee is meniscus tear or bucket handle tear. It is simply a second term of a torn cartilage in the knee. Menisci are two rubbery cartilage wedges between the thighbones and shinbones. During sporting activities, these can be suddenly split which often gives rise to a popping sound or feeling in the knee. Sometimes, they also tear slowly due to aging and normal wear and tear. Meniscal tears are followed by increasing pain, tightness and swelling.

Bucket handle tears usually don’t require surgery.

You Feel A Pop In Knee Movements

If you feel or hear a pop noise when moving or twisting your knee, it may be a sign of a serious knee injury. Often it indicates that something is out of place, i.e., you have either torn your ACL or dislocated patella or kneecap. An ACL injury is tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) which is one of the four ligaments that connect shinbone to thighbone. ACL injury is very common among athletes and sportsperson who play sports that involve sudden change is direction, like soccer, basketball.

A loud pop is a warning sign of a severe knee injury. Not all ligament injuries develop into full tears and need surgery. A mild sprain or tear can be successfully restored with physical therapy.

Patella dislocation is another frequent reason behind a loud pop sound. They are very widespread than what we expect. We all hear about ACL tear at least at some point in our lives, but very few of us are aware of patella or kneecap dislocation which is mostly caused by high energy trauma, like falls, sport related contact, motor vehicle crashes, etc. Of all the cases, a majority of patella dislocations immediately go back into the place. It means kneecap is dislocated only for a moment. An MRI is required to see if cartilage has been injured during dislocation. For a first dislocation, surgery is often not required, and the acute phase can be treated by reducing inflammation, relieving pain, taking rest, reducing physical activities and physiotherapy for knee recovery injury.

Difficulty In Standing or Walking

If you feel extreme pain when you stand out or put sudden weight on your knees, it is an indication of something serious. Inability to bear weight can be caused due to bone contusion, cartilage injury, ligament tear, or fracture.

Another major factor behind this is patellofemoral pain syndrome which is usually caused due to muscle imbalance, muscle tightness, and, injury, overuse, age, alignment problems. Knee surgery can also be one of the reasons behind this syndrome. It causes occasional buckling and knee pain which makes it difficult for you to bear any weight suddenly, walk up or down stairs, kneel or squat and sit with a bent knee for long periods of time.
It is more common in people who actively participate in sports that involve running and jumping.  Women are twice as likely to develop patellofemoral pain compared men. Simple treatments, like rest and ice packs, often help to reduce the pain. Physical therapy is also used to ease patellofemoral pain. Some of the preventive measures which are taken to alleviate pain are – maintaining strength, strength exercise,  warm up before running or any exercise, stretching exercise, etc.

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Greater Knee Movement Than Usual

Sometimes you may feel a greater range of motion in your knee than usual or a sensation that the structures in your knees are loose. It might be due to something out of place or injury which is commonly known as joint instability. The typical symptoms of knee stability are – painful and wobbly sensation in the knee joint. You might feel to give way at any moment during walking, exercising or just standing. It may also be accompanied with a clicking sound or feeling from the knee, difficulty in straightening the knee, swelling, and pain which may range from mild to severe.

Knee instability is often caused to – active athletes who most often suffer sports injuries, overweight or obese persons, anyone who do tough physical labor, dancers, women (due to wider pelvis), older people (due to gradual wearing away of cartilage of the knee).

Knee instability is caused due to a variety of reasons, like:

  • Sprain in knee ligaments where they get damaged due to sudden stress, or trauma.
  • Partial or complete tear of the ligaments
  • Fluid buildup from the injury

The best thing you can do to ease the pain and this condition is to see an orthopedic surgeon. Wearing a compression-sleeve knee brace is also an effective way to subside initial discomfort and provide some degree of support.

Hip or Foot Pain

More than 20 million people in the U.S. suffer from knee osteoarthritis. By 2030, this number is expected to reach 70 million, i.e. 20% of Americans. – NCBI

Pain in hip or foot may refer to pain in knee or simply osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis of the knee which is the prevalent type of arthritis. Other symptoms of osteoarthritis are – increase in pain as soon as you get active and pain subsides when you take rest, swelling, stiffness in knee, especially in the morning or after sitting for a while, decrease in mobility in the knee, difficult to get in or out of chairs, difficulty in using stairs, creaking sound with knee movement.

Osteoarthritis is a condition where natural cushioning between joints, i.e., cartilage wears away. It happens as bones of the joint are overused or are rubbed more closely against one another. This rubbing causes pain, swelling, stiffness, decrease in movability, formation of bone spurs, etc.

Osteoarthritis is the most common kind of arthritis and can occur even in young people. However, it is more common in aged people, and the problem increases after 45. The most common causes of osteoarthritis are age, and the majority of people eventually develop some degree of osteoarthritis after a certain age. Other factors include:

  • Overweight– which causes extra pressure on your knee joint.
  • Heredity– is also one of the reasons in many cases where a person is more likely to develop this condition due to inherited disabilities in the shape of his/her bone.
  • Gender – older women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
  • Injuries – repetitive injuries and a lot of activities that stress joints, like squatting, kneeling, lifting heavy objects can also cause a person osteoarthritis as these activities put constant pressure on the knee joint.
  • Athletics – sports that involve running for a long time cause a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis. It can be avoided by taking precautions.
  • Other illness – patients with rheumatoid arthritis are also more likely to develop osteoarthritis than common individuals.

Treatments for osteoarthritis include – weight loss, exercise, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, hyaluronic acid into the knee (lubricating fluid), use of braces, acupuncture and physical therapy focused on knee recovery injury.

Knee pain and injuries can be prevented up to a great extent by taking precautions. For example, sportsperson should wear appropriate shoes and protective gear. Certain exercise strengthens smaller leg muscles and helps minimize the risk of injury. Stretching before and after exercise also helps to reduce the risk of knee injury. Proper nutrition – intake of protein, calcium, vitamin D are also essential to keep your bones, ligaments, and muscles healthy and avoid knee injury as well as pain.

How Knee Physical Therapy Can Help

If you’re looking to prevent a surgery or get back on your feet consider knee physical therapy. Knee physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles around your knee, get rid of your swelling, and normalize your knee mobility.

To see all the different ways we can help you with your knee pain, be sure to click here.

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Free book for knee pain treatment available in Fort Myers


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About Author: Dr. Scott Gray

Dr. Scott Gray is an internationally recognized and expert physical therapist specializing in sport, athletic, and back and neck injuries. He is the inventor of a revolutionary form of treatment called the GRAY METHOD. This type of treatment unlike others, addresses the CAUSE rather than just your SYMPTOMS with a full body approach. For more information on how to ease or overcome your injury, go to

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