Dr. Carlos Rebollón

Knee instability
Diagnosis and Treatments

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Knee instability

Knee instability

The knee joint is one of the most complex in the body, but it is also one of the most susceptible to injuries. Therefore, knee instability is a condition that is frequently encountered in orthopedic consultations.

As an orthopedic specialist, I can provide treatment for your unstable knee through non-surgical methods. In case you require knee surgery, I can offer minimally invasive surgical procedures that are both innovative and effective.

What is knee instability?

The knee joint consists of cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones, which allow the knee to bend, extend, and rotate. If any of these components fail, the joint will experience misalignment and imbalance.

Knee instability causes a sensation of failure or displacement that is not normal. As a result, the patient’s knee may sometimes appear to dislocate, twist, or lock during everyday activities, leading to a decrease in their quality of life.


Patients can experience acute instability triggered by a previous trauma that resulted in the injury of one or more ligaments in the knee, such as sprains, dislocations, or subluxations. On the other hand, chronic instability is the result of poorly treated acute injuries that have had inadequate recovery, and it can also be due to the total or partial loss of the meniscus or articular cartilage.


Knee instability exhibits symptoms such as:

Inestabilidad De Rodilla

Sensation of joint failure (the knee gives way).

Mild to moderate knee pain not caused by a traumatic event.


Inability to fully straighten the leg.

Difficulty walking, running, climbing, or descending stairs.


Joint crepitus when moving the joint.

Diagnosis of knee instability

When knee instability is suspected, specialists initially perform a physical examination to assess knee movement and check for clicking or popping when flexing and extending the joint. It is important to obtain the patient’s medical history during the consultation in order to verify if there is a past injury that could have caused the knee instability.

In some cases, imaging tests such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered to rule out or confirm the presence of fractures or other internal injuries.

Causes of knee instability

Knee instability often occurs due to other joint conditions that affect the integrity of ligaments, tendons, cartilage, or bones in this complex structure. These can include:

Ligament injuries or tears: anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), or medial collateral ligament (MCL).

Knee osteoarthritis: degeneration of articular cartilage (the main cause of knee instability in older individuals).

Sintomas De La Inestabilidad De Rodilla

Patellar dislocations or subluxations: in this type of injury, the medial collateral ligament is often stretched or torn, making the patient more prone to future instability and other joint problems.

Previous meniscus surgery: total or partial meniscectomy can compromise ligament stability, increasing the chances of instability in the surgically intervened knee.

Treatments for knee instability

Treatment options can vary depending on the severity of knee instability. The treatments applied for this type of injury include:

Rest, ice, and elevation of the limb to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

Use of knee braces to support and protect the knee during the recovery process.

Physical therapy to strengthen knee structures and gradually regain proper mobility.

Arthroscopic surgery to repair damaged structures or tissues causing knee instability.


Time will be a determining factor in the recovery of knee instability. With proper treatment, acute instabilities can take between 8 and 12 weeks to recover.

Chronic instability corrected through surgery can range from a couple of months to years (depending on the patient’s progress and the effectiveness of the surgical procedure).

Causas De La Inestabilidad De Rodilla
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