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. The age range for participants in these studies can mask an important fact: knee buckling is primarily occurs in the elderly.
The danger of knee buckling is particularly important for seniors because it can lead to a fall. In fact, the leading cause for an elderly person to lose their independence is from a fall. The danger of a broken hip, a broken arm, internal bleeding and various other injuries are all common consequences of falling for an elderly person.
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 two joints of the knee.
- Ligaments, which connect the joints of the knee.
- Tendons, which connect the muscles of the leg to the bones of the knee.
Since any part of the knee structure, or any combination of them, can become 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 in the knee. Injury and worn cartilage often lead to arthritis.
2. Torn ligaments
Tearing a ligament will result in severe pain and instability to the knee.
3. Bone fragments
A fragment of bone or cartilage that becomes trapped between the knee joints can make moving the knee difficult or impossible.
4. Dislocation of the kneecap
Misalignment will cause pain and instability.
Whether due to disease or injury of the knee, inflammation 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 of knee problems, physical therapy will play a major role in the stabilization, strengthening, and healing of the knee.
If you notice weakness in your knees, or experience your knee buckling, consider yourself lucky if you haven’t fallen. Take the incident as a warning to see your doctor. Being proactive will enable you to stay healthy longer and experience a higher quality of life.
Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program created to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community.
At Beacon of LIFE, we see our clients on a regular basis, and can quickly note even minor changes in their health, including in their gait or in the strength of their legs or knees.
Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.
We provide a variety of services, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, adult day care, recreational therapy, meals, primary care, hospital care, medical specialty services, prescription drugs, nursing home care, emergency services, home care, dentistry, nutritional counseling, social services, laboratory / X-ray services, social work counseling, and transportation.
Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.