The human knee is a synovial joint, having the synovial fluid as a lubricant between the femur and the calf bones. Since knees suffer abrasions and shocks, the joint is protected by the patella, also called as knee cap.
If you often wonder ‘Why does my knee lock?’ You should know that over the years, due to excessive strain on the knees, injuries, and calcium loss, people suffer from a condition that can be described as the locked knee. This is what causes knee to lock up most commonly. Thus, knee locking and popping is a common occurrence today.
Locked knee refers to a condition where the person becomes unable to move the joint, either due to inflammation, injury, or other chronic diseases.
"Knee locking" is a fairly common joint ailment that inhibits the ability to move the knee in any direction. Knee locking affects many people each year who seek knee pain remedies so that they can continue with their normal activities.
Knee locking is most commonly caused by some damage to the bone, cartilage, tendons, or ligaments that comprise the overall knee structure. Of these knee components, damage to the meniscus - the cartilage - is the most common cause of locked knees.
The meniscus and the other parts of the joint may cause knee locking for any of the following reasons:
- Age- As we grow older, our knee joints suffer from wear and tear. Eventually, all of this accumulated damage can result in knee locking for which we may seek the best drug for knee pain. One group particularly susceptible to knee wear and tear are "weekend warriors" - the men and women who work during the week, then work out and participate in sports only on weekends.
- Trauma- A blow to the knee, or falling down on the knee can cause floating bone fragments, which can lodge in place and restrict knee movement. Swelling of the knee is a common result of trauma and can result in knee locking.
- Inflammation - There are multiple causes for inflammation, or arthritis, of the knee joint, any of which can cause locked knees. Symptoms of an arthritic knee or knees include pain, stiffness, and instability.
Non-surgical options for locked knees
Knee locking does not automatically mean that surgery, a severe knee pain treatment, is the best remedy for knee pain. Sometimes, knee pain relief can be relieved by rest, specific stretching and exercises, and ice packs.
Another common non-surgical option is the use of over-the-counter knee pain relief tablets such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), however, these may pose serious health risks if combined with anticoagulants.
In severe cases, doctors may prescribe powerful painkillers - opioids - which can lead to harmful addiction if not used correctly. Though opioids may appear to be the best pain reliever for knee pain, they carry significant risks.
Locked knees classifications
Two subdivisions of a locked knee are present, that can be categorized based on the situation:
- Indeed locked knee: it’s the knee bone joint becomes locked in a particular position, and the person fails to bring any motion around the bone joint. In simpler words, here the joint gets stuck in a way which reduces mobility in the lower limbs almost to zero.
- Pseudo locked knee: in this condition, the knee bone suffers an injury or excessive strain, or the muscles, ligaments stretch beyond the limit. Here, a person becomes unable to manoeuvre the joint for an only specific time. Once the pain subsides, small movements can be done around the joint.
Medical care of the Indeed Locked Knee
Meniscus Tear is believed to be the primary reason for locked knees, caused mainly by a knee twist, severe injury of the meniscus cartilage, or heavy impact on the knee cap.
When the doctor evaluates the meniscus tear as the main reason for your locked knee, he will prescribe you to take lots of rest during the knee lock treatment. Some anti-inflammatory medicines will further reduce the knee lock pain and swelling of the cartilage and the nearby ligaments. If the pain escalates, you can give cold compression on the affected area, soothe the cartilage and reduce the inflammation.
These three methods are ideal for treating the locked knee. However, if the locking symptoms continue to recur time after time, the doctor will suggest surgery. Suppose the tear is almost impossible to repair. In that case, the medical professional will try to adjust the shape and positioning of the meniscus so the knee bone can't penetrate the cartilage.
Treatment of Pseudo Locked Knee
When the knees get locked due to sudden muscle strain or injury to the bone, the condition is called the pseudo locked knee. In this condition, the area around the patella swells up temporarily. The mobility of the joint is indeed reduced by only to a certain extent.
Under such circumstances, physiotherapy is the best treatment procedure as it will help reduce the swelling and bring in more movement to the joint. Cold compression and anti-inflammatory drugs should be coupled with physiotherapy sessions. You will need to rest a lot to allow the strained muscles and ligaments return to their original state.
Whenever you are suffering from a pseudo locked knee, you need to avoid putting too much pressure on the joint.
Our entire body weight rests on the knee joint. Moreover, it is the primary bone responsible for movement. So, if you discover any symptom related to a locked knee, it’s best if you consult an orthopaedic consultant at the earliest to prevent any further damage to the bone.
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