Real Worry: Loud Pop At Time Of Injury Followed By Swelling Instability And Giving Way
When a patient says to me, Doc, I heard a pop and my knee swelled, it is definitely a cause for concern. If there is a pop at the time of injury, the knee has almost certainly been damaged. You have most likely injured either your ligaments anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligamentor medial collateral ligament or the meniscusor articular cartilage. The knee will usually swell up after these kinds of injuries.
If there is pain, swelling, or giving way of the knee, we will do a careful exam, history, X-ray, and MRI. By studying the cartilage and soft tissue within the knee, we can determine which tissues need to be repaired. Sometimes careful physical therapy, combined with injections, can fix the problem and help you avoid surgery.
So remember: If you hear clicks and pops in your knee but feel no pain or swelling, dont worry. It is normal. If you have pain, instability, or swelling, make sure you check it out to avoid further damage to the joint. The philosophy on this has changed from rest your knee and wait until you are older for a joint replacement to fix the problem ASAP by repairing, regenerating, or replacing the missing tissue and cartilage so that you may never develop arthritis or need a knee replacement.
While it is always best to hear the sounds of silence, snap, crackle, and pop sometimes need to be listened to as well.
Your Knee Buckled Or Gave
If your knee buckled when you landed from a jump or changed direction suddenly, you could have suffered ligament damage, such as an ACL tear. Alternatively, if you experience your knee giving way with twisting or landing movements weeks or months after an injury, you should consider seeing a sports medicine doctor. True knee instability with activities can risk further damage to the meniscus or articular cartilage.
Who Is Most Often Affected
People who are most likely to experience a pop in knee include:
- Women: Female athletes have more knee injuries due to having greater strength in the front of the thigh and less in the back. This makes the knee more likely to be hyperextended when landing from a jump.
- Anyone over age 50: In an older person, cartilage and ligaments may become less flexible due to aging and long-term wear.
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Something Popped Behind My Knee
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Peace And Love Protocol
Newer management techniques include the PEACE and LOVE protocol. Immediately after an injury a person should:
- Protect: Restrict movement for 13 days. People should minimize rest as prolonged periods can compromise tissue strength and quality.
- Elevate: Elevate the knee higher than the heart to promote interstitial fluid flow out of tissues.
- Avoid anti-inflammatories: Inhibiting inflammation using medications may negatively affect long-term tissue healing, especially when doctors prescribe higher dosages.
- Compress: Apply external pressure using a bandage or taping.
- Educate: Physical therapists should educate patients on the benefits of an active approach to recovery.
After the first days have passed, soft tissues need LOVE:
- Load: A person should resume exercise as soon as symptoms allow. People can add optimal loads without exacerbating pain to:
- enhance capacity of tendons, muscles, and ligaments
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Basic Anatomy Of The Knee
So first thing youll notice is usually your knee is going to be painful. You will feel or actually hear sometimes an audible pop in the knee usually associated with a twisting or turning motion or sometimes from a direct blow or impact. So real quickly were going to go over some of the basic anatomy of a knee. Ive already drawn this on the whiteboard here.
This is your knee, and this is the femoral condyle, and this is the tibial plateau of the knee. The stabilizing structures of the knee are the medial collateral ligament, which is on the inside of the knee. Ill show you here on the model as well. This is a small model but this is the medial collateral ligament in the inside of the knee. This is the lateral collateral ligament on the outside of the knee. These two ligaments stabilize the knee from what we call valgus stress and varus stress.
The Cruciate Ligaments of the Knee
If You Feel A Pop Or Lock Of The Knee With Knee Pain Dont Ignore It
So once again, if you do feel a pop or lock of the knee followed by a pain and diffusion, I highly recommend being evaluated by an orthopedic specialist for further recommendations. I hope this sums up some of the basic answers regarding knee pain and feeling popping in the knee. If you have any further questions, please call my office at 281-633-8600. Thank you very much.
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You Experience Greater Than Normal Movement
If you feel like your range of motion in the knee is higher than usual, something might be out of place or injured. This is known as joint instability.
You may feel like your knee will buckle or fold with walking, twisting, or weight-bearing.
The sensation of the knee giving away may occur with simple daily activities or upon return to sport following what was thought to be a minor injury, explains Dr. Brown.
Additional episodes of joint instability may worsen the condition of a knee after an injury. Tears of the ACL or MCL and patellar dislocations could also create joint instability, he says.
Hundreds of thousands of exercise injuries occur each year. Among these, knee injuries are the most common.
The best plan of action is to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.
Wear a compression-sleeve-type brace or a knee brace with hinges in the interim, says Dr. Brown.
This may provide some comfort or level of support. Use crutches if you feel like you could fall and suffer additional injury because of knee joint instability.
Another type of hypermobility can occur when the kneecap moves out of place. This condition is called a patella dislocation. Its usually painful when it happens, and it might be sore the next day. If it pops back in by itself, the injury might not be serious. The true test is whether you feel confident that you can resume regular activity later that day or the next day.
Knee Braces And Other Supports
Orthotic inserts in your shoes might help too. It might not eliminate the noise, but a cane might help you get around a little easier, too.
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Is Your Knee Bothering You
As our world is getting back to some semblance of “normal”, people are resuming activities and sports that they had stopped during the pandemic. After long periods of inactivity, we are more prone to injury.
When it comes to sporting and exercising activities, knee injuries tend to be quite a common occurrence. The good thing is that most of them do not require surgery. However, it is still important that you be on the lookout for any signs that may indicate your knee injury is serious and see a Bay Area knee injury specialist. Some symptoms to watch for are:
Is There Any Treatment For It
Some will perceive fewer knee noises after losing some weight, or after starting an exercise regime.
In healthcare, we usually treat the noises when theres joint pain or an injury involved.
For example, if the noise is due to a ligament tear, we treat the tear. Once its managed, the crack or pop should disappear.
150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, AND Strength training twice a week. Do it under the guidance of a personal trainer to prevent injuries. Also, try to keep your BMI below 25. The higher the BMI, the lower your knee health.
Combine this with a healthy lifestyle for best results eat nutritious foods, sleep well, and take care of your mental health.
If you have knee osteoarthritis, please follow the indications of your healthcare provider to prevent it from getting worse.
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When Should I Be Concerned Enough To See A Physician
If you experience the clicking and catching and its accompanied by swelling and/or severe and persistent pain its time to see your physician for an examination and clear diagnosis. Also, if theres a pop at the time of an injury and your knee begins to swell, it could very well be a sign that there has been damage. It could mean that you injured your anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament or medial collateral ligament or the meniscus or articular cartilage.
A good rule of thumb is that if you experience clicking and catching of the knee, but feel no pain or swelling whatsoever, its likely normal. However, if you have pain, instability and/or swelling, be sure to see your physician in order to avoid further damage to the joint. Of course, if youre worried even without pain or swelling, you should still consider seeing a knee specialist for your own peace-of-mind.
How I Deal With Acl Injury When My Knee Popped And Now Hurts
If youve ever experienced or heard of someone spraining a knee, the odds are high that the affected area is the anterior cruciate ligament or the ACL. Due to its location right at the very front of the knees, its exposed to all sorts of vulnerabilities that cause symptoms such as my knee popped and now hurts from twisting, hyperextension or direct impact with any object.
As the major ligament that plays a central role in keeping the stability of your joints, any tear in the ACL is difficult to miss. Aside from manifestations like my knee popped and now hurts, an injury in the ACL can also cause swelling, tenderness, and discomfort that makes most movements very difficult.
While the medical world is prepared with its slew of treatments for every knee problem you may have, your physician is not necessarily with you 24/7 to deal with every pain youre going through. There are ways you can deal with an ACL tear, which can complement your medical treatments to effectively manage the condition and keep it under control.
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You Cant Put Weight On It
If its immensely painful to stand or put any weight on your injured knee, theres definitely something serious going on.
Inability to bear weight after a knee injury could be caused by a fracture, bone contusion, cartilage injury or ligament tear, explains Dr. Brown. Initial treatment includes using crutches or a steerable scooter to take pressure off the injured limb and minimize additional damage to the knee.
If this sounds like you, listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Dr. Brown warns that the old adage of no pain, no gain doesnt apply in this situation.
He advises seeking orthopedic evaluation as soon as possibleeven that same day if you can.
After a minor injury like a twist or fall, you might not be able to put weight on your leg immediately. Thats not necessarily a cause for alarm, but if you dont feel like youve recovered within a few minutes, this could indicate something more serious.
Its similar to when you injure a wrist or ankle. If you fall on your wrist or twist your ankle, you may experience searing pain for a moment or two. When the injury isnt severe, youre able to shake it off and resume your life after a few minutes at the most. However, if youve experienced a sprain, the pain doesnt subside. Instead, it gets worse.
Knee Pop And Pain Behind Knee Causes
There are numerous possibilities why you experience knee pop and pain behind knee. Many people often take these symptoms for granted due to their lack of information regarding the possible extent of damage these knee conditions might imply. This is the reason why you should take time to pay attention to your body and look into any unusual changes or discomfort that you feel.
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Three Ways To Treat A Pop In The Knee
While the above orthopaedic conditions should be directly diagnosed and treated by a specialist, we have provided a few common recommendations knee doctors make when knee popping occurs. Talk to your physician before attempting to treat any injury yourself.
R.I.C.E.: For many injuries, to the knee or another part of the body, doctors suggest using the R.I.C.E. first. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation can reduce inflammation and pain and promote faster healing.
Proper immobilization: In addition to rest and compression, your physician may advise that you use a brace to prevent your knee from moving and to help you reduce discomfort. Depending on the type of brace and the particular patients living conditions, crutches may also be prescribed.
Rehabilitation exercises: Sometimes, a pop in the knee indicates instability, and thus the knee requires stronger surrounding muscles to support it during activity. Strengthening rehabilitation exercises, either given by your knee specialist or a physical therapist, can assist in stabilizing the area. While performing these activities, make sure to report any sensations of discomfort to a medical professional immediately. On a similar note, do not exercise too much at once, as overexertion of the area may worsen the condition.
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Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury
The PCL is located in the back of the knee and connects the big thigh bone to the big shin bone . It keeps the tibia from moving backwards. An injury to the PCL requires a huge force, making it much rarer than an ACL tear.
Your primary care provider or an urgent care provider can do an exam and imaging can determine the extent of the injury. Treatment would depend on the severity of the injury, ranging from just bracing to full surgery.
Rarity: Ultra rare
Top Symptoms: constant knee pain, severe knee pain, pain in one knee, knee pain from an injury, swollen knee
Symptoms that always occur with posterior cruciate ligament injury: inability to bear weight immediately after injury, pain in one knee, knee pain from an injury, severe knee pain, constant knee pain
Urgency: Hospital emergency room
You Felt Or Heard A Pop
Sometimes, a popping sound after a movement can indicate something is out of place.
Oftentimes this type of sound upon injury is indicative of a ligamentous injury, says Schwabe. Not all ligamentous injuries are full tears, though, and not all require surgery.
However, if you also experience excessive swelling and instability, get it checked out by an M.D. If you only have a mild sprain then you will be able to rehab it with physical therapy, he says.
The pop is what you hear as a result of a ligament tear, a meniscus tear, strained tendons, or a dislocated kneecap. Usually what happens is youll simultaneously hear and feel the pop.
If youre not familiar with the meniscus, its the cartilage in the knee that functions as a shock absorber. Each knee has two menisci, and theyre shaped like horseshoes. The medial meniscus is on the inside of the knee, and the lateral meniscus is on the outside.
The popping sensation can be difficult to explain, but youll certainly know it when it happens to you. Though the sound originates in the knee, youll hear it as though it was directly in your ear. Its as if the sensation travels up your body, and when it gets to your brain, it becomes audible.
If the pain is severe, youll want to visit a doctor as soon as possible. Surgery is often the recommended course of action, but physical therapy and other non-invasive remedies may be prescribed as alternatives.
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You Notice An Obvious Deformity
If you notice your knee jutting outward in a way it never has before, take note. A dislocated or fractured patella can cause injuries like this, explains Brian Schwabe, C.S.C.S., board-certified sports physical therapist based in Los Angeles.
While some deformities occur over time, when the deformity is a result of an injury, it could be the result of a fracture or chronic wear on the knee joint. If you are already experiencing any kind of misalignment in your lower extremities, then you could be more prone to this type of injury.
If you notice a bone deformity after an injury, he recommends seeking the assistance of an orthopedic doctor immediately. The doctor will likely take x-rays as well as perform a visual diagnosis to determine if you need surgery.