The sensation of the knee beginning to buckle, or the actual buckling of the knee, is quite common among older adults. Based on various studies, it has been estimated that nearly 12% of adults between the ages of 36 and 94 reported at least one episode of knee buckling within the last three months. Since the age range included in these studies was relatively large, the statistic 12% is somewhat misleading. In fact, the phenomenon of knee buckling is relatively rare among people under 60, and increasingly common among the elderly.
The danger of knee buckling is particularly important in the elderly population since it can lead to falling. And falls are a major danger for older people. One of the main ways in which an elderly person loses their independence is through a fall. The danger of a broken hip, a broken arm, internal bleeding and various other injuries are all common consequences of falling in the elderly.
Although many people think that knee buckling is caused by osteoarthritis, studies have shown that more than 50% of the people who experience knee buckling do not have osteoarthritis. One of the difficulties in determining the precise cause of knee buckling is the fact that the knee is a relatively complex structure.
The knee consists of two joints which allow it to move in a variety of directions. These joints are supported by three types of tissue.
- Cartilage, which acts as a shock absorber, and allows smooth movement of the knee joints.
- Ligaments, which connect the knee joints.
- Tendons, which connect the muscles of the leg to the bones of the knee.
Since any part of the knee structure can become damaged — and a combination of parts can be damaged — it can be difficult to isolate the exact cause of knee problems.
However, the 5 most common causes of knee buckling are:
Arthritis can cause severe pain and create instability to the knee. Injury and worn cartilage often lead to arthritis.
Tearing a ligament will result in instability — and severe pain — in the knee.
3. Bone fragments
A fragment of bone or cartilage that becomes trapped between the joints of the knee can make moving the knee difficult or impossible.
4. Dislocation of the kneecap
Parts of the body which are misaligned will obviously cause pain and instability.
Inflammation, whether due to disease or injury to the knee, can be extremely painful and interfere with the smooth movement of the knee joint.
Minor damage to the knee can sometimes be healed through physical therapy, which will help to strengthen weak or damaged tissue. Severe damage, on the other hand, will usually require surgery. In any case, physical therapy will constitute a major role in the healing, stabilization and strengthening of the knee.
At Laurel Bay Health and Rehabilitation Center, in the scenic beach town of Keansburg, NJ, we designed a short-term rehabilitation program whose goal is to get our patients back to their optimal level of functioning and independence as quickly as possible. We provide a tailored program of physical, occupational and speech therapy, as well as all types of specialized care under one roof.
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