When you are unable to bend the knee, it is considered a locked knee. The inability to straighten your knee can be painful. It can hurt to sit, stand, and step up. To relieve pain, you need to identify the cause. Once you address the source, your knee can bend again. However, many people wonder why their knee locks.
There are two types of locked knees. Mechanical locking interferes with motion. Or severe pain that can also prevent the knee from bending. However, both types of knee locks have effective treatment options.
Causes and Diagnosis for Why Your Knee Locks
Diagnosis involves looking at the cause. Is pain the issue? Or is something physical preventing movement. When the source is mechanical, it is due to something caught in the knee. A “bucket handle” meniscus tear is a common mechanical issue. When it tears, it becomes stuck in the knee. This wedged fragment prevents motion.
It can be hard to tell if the cause is physical or pain. So, a physical examination is required. And testing, such as x-rays, will help too. X-rays can show swelling and fractures. These are best for finding any severe damage within the knee. An x-ray lets you look within the knee joint. There may be something preventing knee movement.
If an x-ray does not show anything, you may need an MRI. Magnetic resonance scans provide different images. Therefore, doctors can see cartilage, tendon, and ligaments issues. And an MRI will show meniscus tears and loose cartilage. However, both of these can block knee motion.
Treatment for a Locked Knee
When a physical blockage occurs, it must be removed. A torn meniscus fragment or cartilage requires surgery. Therefore, the motion will not be restored until the impediment is removed. Arthroscopic surgery removes the obstruction to alleviate pain. Then, the doctor administers a local anesthetic injection. In some cases, the obstacle may just need to be moved. However, complete removal is more common.
When the immobility issue is knee pain, treatment involves pain management. Alleviating pain with anti-inflammatory medications is common. You can also try ice and rest to reduce discomfort. If these do not work, cortisone shots can be given. The injection is directly into the joint to relieve swelling and pain. In most cases, pain medications are used sparingly. The side effects can make knee pain worse with long term use.
If you have a locked knee, call us at 888-409-8006. We can evaluate the cause. Tests will be performed to help find what is causing your knee locks. Then, we will provide a treatment plan to help you get moving.