How do you know if your knee injury is serious? And what should you do next?

My name is Dr. David Geier – orthopedic surgeon, sports medicine specialist, and anti-aging and regenerative medicine expert. I help you feel, look and perform your best, regardless of age or injury.


Knee injuries are common and, most of the time, can be treated at home or with a doctor’s care. But if you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor right away.

Locking or catching

You are unable to straighten your knee, or you have difficulty that your knee gets stuck in certain positions.

The inability to straighten your knee is a sign of a serious injury. If you cannot straighten your knee, this could mean that one or more ligaments in your knee have been torn. It could indicate a certain type of meniscus tear that keeps you from bending or straightening your knee. It can also be caused by loose pieces of bone or cartilage in the joint.

This inability to bend or straighten your knee is usually caused by a meniscus tear. The meniscus is a cartilage disc that cushions the knee joint and can tear as a result of trauma or overuse, or it may be torn by arthritis.

Buckling or giving way

Your knee buckles (or has a tendency to collapse) when you try to walk, stand or run.

If your knee buckles or gives way unexpectedly, it’s a sign that something is wrong. You may feel as though you’re losing control of your knee and that it could buckle at any time. Your knee will likely buckle when you try to walk, stand or run and especially when planting your foot to change directions.

You may feel sharp pain in your knee when giving way; this can be accompanied by an audible pop or snap as well as swelling around the joint. If these symptoms are present, it could indicate a torn ligament such as an ACL tear.

Significant swelling of the knee joint.

Swelling of the knee joint is a common symptom of many injuries. It can be caused by a fracture or torn ligament. It’s occasionally seen with meniscus tears and osteoarthritis, although the swelling isn’t usually as bad. If you have swelling in your knee, see a doctor as soon as possible to determine if there is a serious injury present.


If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor right away. They may be able to recommend the best treatment path for you, whether that means getting x-rays or an MRI or seeing an orthopedic surgeon.

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