Locking Knees

by Sam Malone

When you are unable to straighten or bend your knee, it is known as a locked knee.  You may feel that your knee is stuck and that you cannot move the knee, so you may try to wiggle it around to get your knee back in position. There are two main kinds of locked knees, one that leads to severe knee pain when locking it and it does not allow your knee proper range of motion, and the other is caused due to a block that is mechanical and comes in the way of a smooth knee motion. If you are incapable of moving your knee from a specific position, call your doctor or 911 immediately for some medical attention.


Your knee tends to get locked when there is a tear in the meniscus, which are the cartilage rings in the middle of the knee that help absorb shocks. The meniscus can be torn in one of two main ways: either as a result of degeneration over a period of time or due to some trauma to the knee. Your knee has two menisci the medial one that is located on the inside, and the lateral one that is on the outside of the knee. A meniscus tear is often associated with a sharp pain, which could be either inside or outside the knee; you may hear a clicking sound as well in some cases. A mechanical block is caused when there is some physical matter like a part of the meniscus stuck within the knee, therefore causing the knee to lock. Another cause of a locked knee could be due to a dislocation of the patella or loose bone fragments present around the knee. Your knee will get locked and result in pain; it could also get inflamed.


The treatment for a locked knee depends on what is causing the knee to lock. Only in severe cases will you require surgery.

  • If it is caused due to a meniscus tear, you could be recommended to try ice therapy or cryotherapy to help alleviate the pain. Place the ice on your knee for less than five minutes for relief.
  • A knee brace should also help provide some relief for your knee, while giving it a more stable support. Not only does it allow your knee to be steadier but it also keeps it warm. Consult your doctor on which knee brace will be suitable for your condition.
  • In some cases you can apply a heating pad on your knee to get rid of the stiffness in your knee. Set it to a low temperature, and place it on your affected knee for 10 to 20 minutes to feel better. If you do not have a heating pad, soak a towel in warm water and place it on your knee.
  • Physical therapy and certain yoga poses sometimes help in unlocking the knee.
  • There are certain pain medications that your doctor may prescribe to help you get rid of the pain and inflammation. If the inflammation and pain is very severe, your doctor may recommend that you undergo surgery to repair your knee.

Few Tips

If your knee starts hurting and there are signs of pain, avoid physical activities such as climbing, heavy lifting, kneeling, running, and squatting. Indulging in these activities could only aggravate the injury and make it worse. Also, make a list of movements that do not cause you as much pain and continue with these.
While sleeping at night try not to bend your knees or curl up and sleep, instead try to stretch your legs out straight when you go to sleep. At the first sign of pain, contact your doctor immediately so that he can help diagnose what is wrong with your knee and give you a solution quickly.


  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003187.htm
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1166437/
  3. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00358

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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