Knee Lock Conversation

My Story (maybe your story, too)

13 Jun , 2017  

As I’ve learned, my story is identical to many other knee lock sufferers. It started in my early 40s. If I bend my right leg into a certain position for a certain period of time, typically the “ankle on knee” leg cross, the lateral and gravity forces on the “knee area” can cause a lock up. My knee physically locks in the bent position, as seen in this photograph.

JL 4-point front sm w textWhen my knee locks, it is truly, physically locked in place. Any attempt to straighten the leg is accompanied with excruciating pain. The harder I push against the lock, the higher level of pain. I’ve found various ways of unlocking (discussed later), and it takes on average 20-30 minutes of work to unlock a “locked knee”. Sometimes I’ve been locked for 2-3 hours.

When the leg / knee area finally unlocks, it feels like a large bone is sliding or moving back into proper position. The unlocking is often accompanied by a dull, audible “thunk” which can be heard by others in the room. Without question, there is a large mass or large bone involved with the locking and unlocking mechanism.

I went to see an orthopedic doctor and explained my symptoms. After an MRI, he said “you have a torn meniscus that’s interfering with knee movement.” I said, “but it’s clearly moving out of joint, like a big bone.” The doctor said, “that’s really not possible.” I insisted that it was “a big solid mass that I can physically feel moving into position with a massive ‘thunk’ that other people can hear in the room.” The doctor just smiled and said “you need to have that torn meniscus removed.”

I felt like telling the doctor “look, doc, I know my own body! There’s a LARGE BONE-LIKE-MASS in there that’s moving OUT OF PLACE, and then THUNKING BACK INTO PLACE!”

But instead, I had the arthroscopic “meniscus tear” surgery. The doctor later showed me a tiny piece of meniscus that he had surgically removed. But, alas, my knee lock condition did not change whatsoever. It was not a “torn meniscus” causing my knee lock. The surgery was worthless and unnecessary. A failure of diagnosis.



This led me to the Internet, where virtually all of the large medical sites agreed that a torn meniscus is the primary cause of knee lock. But as I engaged in on-line conversations, I was dumbfounded to find scores of knee lock sufferers who reported having “torn meniscus surgery” that did NOT cure their knee lock. No change. Worthless surgeries. In fact, I would estimate the percentage of unsuccessful “meniscus knee lock” surgery reports at over 80%.

As I started digging deeper into the orthopedic literature on meniscus surgery, I found data that corroborated my on-line conversations. Arthroscopic surgery of the meniscus is THE MOST COMMON ORTHOPEDIC PROCEDURE in the USA. Meniscus surgery, alone, is a $4 billion industry, performed 700,000 times per year. If my years of on-line conversational evidence is anywhere near accurate, then over 500,000 of these 700,000 meniscus surgeries are unnecessary shams.

I’ve since found NUMEROUS PEER-REVIEWED ACADEMIC STUDIES all concluding that surgeries for torn and arthritic meniscus are generally worthless.   (login required)



But the question remains: why is my knee locking up? It’s true, in a certain percentage of cases, torn meniscus is the cause of knee lock, and should never be ruled out. But, apparently, in a large majority of knee lock cases, the cause is something else.

A few years ago, I stumbled upon a medical research paper by Drs. Kuhn and Sekiya, entitled INSTABILITY OF THE  PROXIMAL TIBIOFIBULAR JOINT  published in the March 2003 edition of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. This paper describes a “knee lock” condition that is often “confused with … torn meniscus.” In brief, the paper describes an instability of the fibular head connection to the tibia socket, the “tibiofibular joint.” This instability causes the fibular head to physically slip out of its normal seated position, literally moving “out of joint.” The instability might be caused by genetic malformation, degeneration, injury, irregularity of the Popliteus muscle, abuse over time, and so forth.

TF Joint sm


Soon after reading this paper, I experienced another knee lock. I immediately pushed and prodded in the area around the TF joint. Bingo! The pain, the lock, the noise …. It was all coming from the TF joint area. Certain leg positions were clearly causing my fibular head to move out of its normal position in the tibial socket. And when the leg unlocked, I could feel (and hear) the fibular head sliding back into its normal position. Thunk! 3 sm 1 4 sm 1

My body did not lie. It WAS a large bone “moving back into place.” My knee lock is caused by an instability of the tibiofibular joint. And as I relay this information to every knee lock sufferer I speak with, I would say that roughly 4 of 5 have confirmed this as the identical source of their problem. (click to enlarge images)



Now the bad news. I spoke with Dr. Kuhn (now at Vanderbilt) some time ago and asked about treatment for TF joint instability. He said there are surgical methods to stabilize this joint, but that they are often unsuccessful, sometimes leaving the patient worse off than before the surgery. I believe he estimated that over 50% of such surgeries would not be considered successes. He discouraged me from a surgical solution and recommended management techniques such as leg muscle strengthening and leg position awareness management.

I’ve read more recently of some doctors at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown OH having success repairing types of TF joint instability via surgically implanted fasteners, but their research seems focused on the rare cases of complete TF joint dislocation, not the kind of temporary TF partial dislocation experienced by many knee lock sufferers. One commenter found a doctor treating unstable TF with ligament reconstruction plus peroneal nerve neurolysis. I cannot advise medically as to the efficacy of any treatment, but am simply offering links for your further study.

Based on what I’ve learned to-date, unless we’re dealing a really life-altering TF joint issue, I think we simply need to learn how to live with it – and be conscious of avoiding situations that would cause a lock-up. I’ve also found that leg press and leg curl exercises seem to help. Strengthening the leg muscles around knee seems to build in more preventative support and stability to the fibular head.

It’s my hope that other knee lock sufferers join the conversation here. Perhaps together we can crowd-source some innovative new methods for reducing the pain and incidence of knee lock. If you want to add a comment, scroll up and click on the title of this post.

– John L

tumblr_n7856jJDit1sfie3io1_1280 sm free





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180 Responses

  1. NS says:


    Thanks a lot for the info and creating this website.

    You can add me to the list of people who say – “You have described my symptoms exactly”. I had an appointment scheduled with an Ortho Surgeon but I am now reconsidering it.

    My problem (like yours) is that my knee locks when I get in certain positions (generally when sitting cross-legged). Unlocking it is very painful and is only achieved after a bone (like you describe) falls into place with a “thunk”. My knee can be mildly sore for a few hours after the lock/unlock but is not painful or weak otherwise.

    I guess I just have learn to live with it. I do a lot of yoga and I will need to be aware of my knee position at all times.

    Thank you again for sharing your story. The Internet gets a lot of bad rep for being used for self-diagnosis but this is the kind of “crowd-sourced” info one would not get at the medical office .

    • Brb says:

      Thank you for this article.
      I be in physical therapy lately for the knee problem you are talking about (and for my back.)
      So far the therapy has helped about 50% with my knee problem.
      Today I sat cross legged which I hadn’t done in years and it painfully popped out again and loudly popped back in with my manipulation of it. I would suggest an experienced and open minded physical therapist for others with this problem.

      • Travis says:

        When i crouch down my knee pops out of joint, then it hurts like hell to straighten my leg but i haft to straighten it out to pop it back in. Then its like nothing happend no pain at all.

    • Dustin h says:

      Not sure how to leave a comment so I’m just going to reply to one.

      About 3 years ago my knee started locking in the folded position. I would experience serious pain if I tried moving it in either directions. My solution to getting out of this situation is to tough out the pain and try to extend quickly until it felt like my something slid into place and my leg moved freely again. I am not certain that my issue is the same as others on this thread, since 1) it takes me less than a minute to unlock it, while others have reported 30 minutes or more 2) while there is a quiet “pop” when it unloaks, there is no heavy “thump” 3) I have not noticed a bone projecting out, though to be fair I have not been looking for it. I have noticed that I usually am able to tell when it is beginning to lock and can quickly unlock it with very little pain if I react fast enough. I find this happens most often when I am crouching or sitting on my heels, though it occasionally happens when I am sitting cross-legged.

      • Dana C says:

        My right knee too began locking about three years ago. Usually a couple hours after a run. It begins in a certain position of my knee. For me, while excruciating, it only lasts a couple minutes if. I can stand up on the other leg that isn’t locked, I’m ok. When I am standing up, I can feel the blood or something getting to that area behind my locked knee. It is at that point, the knee pops back into place, giving me my mobility back. If I can catch it in time, then I can throw it back. There’s just a very small window. Doing nothing isn’t an option.

      • Alix louise says:

        Hi, you have described me to a T!! I’m at my whits end so please tell me you have found a solution! I am 10 weeks post opp as this happened to me and locked my knee except this time I couldn’t unlock it, I had a bucket handle menescal real tear. Holding out hope this would cure my problem I have lived in hope until tonight I felt it go to lock again. Luckily knowing the signs I managed to prevent it! Thank the lord as my stitches won’t hold out until I’m past the 6 month recovery mark. My consultant assured me it wouldn’t happen again yet here I am. 28 year old female and not a sport injury! Any thoughts?

        • admin says:

          Alix Louise, welcome to “the doctor repaired my meniscus, but my knee still locks” club. Read over the 4 blog articles, where you’ll find all the related medical information I’ve come across, to date. If you learn of anything else, please share it with us.

      • Daniel says:

        Hi, I’ve been having similar issues for the past 2 years. My knee would lock up after sitting on the floor and then getting up. My natural reaction is usually to force the leg to straighten it out until I feel it pops back into place. The pain is excrutiating. It usually takes me less than 10 seconds to put it back into place. Last night it happened again but this time I wasn’t able to fully straighten it. Family members suggested for me to go to ER, but I’m not sure if that was a good idea as they put a cast on my whole leg. The orthopedist suspects meniscus tear, but I’m still not sure if repairing it will fix the problem. I feel like this cast is really unnecessary and I will look for a second opinion, so I can get this thing off.

        • admin says:

          Daniel, share the medical papers on this site with your ortho docs. In my experience, many docs are simply unaware of tib-fib instability.

          • Anne Hersey says:

            Thanks so much for describing my condition! I am 70 years old and this knee lock started when I was 19!!! Luckily, it happens very infrequently-like once a year-so I have never sought treatment. This last time, it locked while I was driving. As I was catching a train with friends, I didn’t have the 10-30 minutes to massage/wait it out so I gritted my teeth and just straightened the leg amid much pain! Well, it is now 5 days later and I have fluid on my knee and am in huge pain. I think I have TF as I have always noted that my left knee has a more protruding ‘bump’ on the outside of the knee than does my right knee although my right knee has also locked up at times. Thank you for pin pointing what I have known that it is that bone and it does go back to normal with a pop that’s not painful and my knee is good to go immediately! Probably an elastic pull on knee brace would help those people who get this at predictable times such as yoga, driving etc. Thanks again for helping me realize that I am not crazy after all!


      • Ion S says:

        What you describe is exactly what I have. Have you found the cause?

        • Skye says:

          Hi, thanks to everyone for sharing info on the internet for advise & confirmation that I am not alone in my physical complications. I am a 29 yr old female who I currently experiencing a knee lock up from 7:30pm last night & now it is 9:30am. I have a low tolerance for pain so I am terrified of the the forced leg extension “thunck” that’ll need to take place in order to straighten out my lock up. This is my second long period encounter, last one took place about 3 months ago were it took 2.5 hours to unlock. Unlocking came about with the body position of lying on my back on the sofa, started with leg elevated on a pillow & somehow I bent my knee up to my chest & the bone released itself from the locked position with gravity “thank god”. Unfortunately that knee to chest stretch it’s working for me now. 🙁 When i was 13 i experienced a “hand playing” injury where a boy held me by the arms & kicked me in the knee with skates on, days later I went to the doctor & was diagnosed with a bruised ligament, wore a brace for a few weeks but not consistently & eventually never got a check up. Since then I would have short minute knee lock ups & quickly it would release. Now that I’m approaching 30 it’s lasting longer to release & the fear of extending my leg is controlling my capability to overcome. Sorry such a long story but venting is helping as I am stuck in this position.

      • Maria says:

        Yes!! Mine has done the same thing! When I get it back into place though it can be very tender or I feel it’s week…. not more than a day usually though. This week my knee was in the “might pop” mode…. I could tell it might happen soon but now (mcl?) area is sore!!! Over a week now and it hurts to be straight and any pressure. It hurts less to bend it so I keep it bend most of the time. I have been to many doctors over the popping and it’s like it goes over there head…. once people see it happen though they are a believer because they can hear and literally see my knee going back to how it should be lol

      • Joel DS says:

        Hello Dustin H,
        I am having the EXACT same symptoms as you. Honestly, it feels like I wrote this comment. Are you having some kind of treatments? Or you just live with it?

    • Morgan says:

      This is exactly my response to this article as well! I don’t encourage self-diagnoses from the Internet usually, but in this instance the information was so helpful to me. I’ve experienced this for a long time and have been doing yoga for a few years and have mildly injured my knee a few different times while attempting poses I thought would help strengthen my knee, when instead I have learned I need to be aware and listen to my body and it’s limitations. Thanks so much for this article and this response as well!

    • Alexander says:

      I have identical symptoms and thankful to not only see I’m not alone but also for your research and the fact you are sharing this information. I have found that when my knee locks in a 90 degree angle if I pull my foot in towards my body and rotate it inwards (upwards as I’m usually sitting on the ground in pain) fully then straighten my leg slowly is seems to swivel back into place almost pain free.. something to consider, I hope this helps..

      • Stephany. W says:

        For the past12 (which was when i was 15years old) years or so I’ve had this problem with both knees. It happens when I crouch, sit on my shins (Japanese style) and basically sit anyway that resembles the former two. It feels as if it popped them out of socket and something is blocking them from moving back. To fix this, I also find quick(ish) relief if I pull my ankle in towards my upper body while rotating it inwards. This of course is irritating since i: a.) Have to have enough room to manage sitting on my butt or b.) Try to do it with one hand while standing and propping myself up with the other. I cant tell you how often the latter option has caused me to fall and cause myself additional pain. If I don’t do that and start to get up my leg literally won’t move past a 90 degree angle if standing on the other (providing it didn’t lock up as well). I couldn’t dream of trying to force it being as there is intense pain if I begin to even try and force it out. I’ve been confused about this for a good portion of my life and no one around me understood why it happened and simply said: “avoid moving your in those positions”. Which I’m sure every person on here could agree that we do so because we have to not because we want to. So like everyone else I would like to thankyou for this information and also share what helps me get out of this so that others (even if just one) can find a quicker and safer option as opposed to forcing or massaging it past

      • Rosalinda says:

        I have exactly the same problem
        and deal with it in the same way. I had a meniscus repair about 18 years ago. This has been an ongoing problem for about 15 years. Sometimes I have a pain and cracking noise for about 20 mins afterwards.

    • Billy Savage says:

      Eureka! I have been practicing Akido, a Japanese martial art on and off for about 20 years. Whenever we would start the class, kneeling, sitting on our heels, my left knee would lock, and as described, the sensation was pressure to release it, then a large bone moving back into place. This is the first place, and I’ve done exhaustive research, where my experience was described EXACTLY. Leg extensions with heavy weight seemed to help, but I have also learned to push very hard on the top of my knee whenever standing from any bent knee position. I recently fell with my knee folded under me, and was limping for a week. Ice and NSAID’s we’re my only relief. Anyone wake up with knee pain and swelling?

      -Billy from Cali

    • Leslie says:

      I have lived with this in both knees since I was 8 years old. When you are that young you tend to sit Indian style a lot and my knee popped out all the time. It even did it once when I was on the basketball court and It collapsed when I tried to land. My right knee became so loose that I could force it straight without pain and my whole leg would jerk and give a huge pop. I learned to assess my knee before standing after squatting.

      • Sarah says:

        I can’t believe I found this – everyone here gets it! My first knee lock was when I was 7. I would sit with one leg tucked up under me and the other on the floor and that was the first time. I had many more knee locks in childhood. Fast forward about 30 years and I have had 2 in the last 4 months. Both times sitting in a chair with my right ankle tucked behind my left with my right knee hanging off to the side and right away I knew it! The first time took my about 15 minutes to straighten and the next time I told myself to do it really fast as to not prolong the agony. This last time I held my hand over the area as I straightened, and it had to go to almost completely straight to unlock. I felt the mass of bone literally move back into place and something that felt like a tendon? sliding as well. It was so bizarre that I started researching and found this. Nobody else gets it! I’m wondering if a band around the leg at that area will help while playing sports, I get slight pain at times.

    • Livi Malthouse says:

      I have this also, i have been diagnosed with hyper mobility and EDS 3. I get excruciating pain most of the time in my legs along with these “leg lockings”. I found the best thing was to strengthen my knee around the joint so it doesn’t slip out (not too sure on the terminology here) (recommended by a physiotherapist). It’s been helping but alas I’ve had a leg locking experience this morning but I suppose it was better than usual. I find also if you unlock your leg quicker, it will not be as painful and it’s easier to get out than waiting. Use your upper leg to kick your knee out slowly and use your hands to aid this motion- guiding the joint back in place. Hope this helped,
      Fellow leg locker x

    • Jessie says:

      Emergency room visit yesterday. Right knee been locking in bent position since I was 18. First time it was because I sat Indian style on the floor. From there on, it just takes a slight bump to my ankle or foot…like getting out of the car and boom….emergency room this time. Usually if I relax it will slowly pop, or slide back into place with a dull thump and pain. This time it stayed locked for four hours…needless to say after four shots and one pill later. The Dr. In the e.r pulled it straight. He felt it pop and heard the Thursday k…..I was diagnosed with a spasm. Now have an appt with a orthapedic on Wednesday. Going to bring up your research and hope for the correct diagnoses…..thanks.

    • Louann says:

      Thank u to the person who put up this I have been in pain for hours ,until I saw where to massage.
      Since I was six I’ve been getting this…and this was the easiest way I have ever relieved my pain..
      Still crying.
      And my knees still sors

    • Shannon S says:

      Does anyone have issues while squatting? I feel as if I cant squat or even sit on my knee.
      Back in August of 2018 i was squatting putting a tire on my car. When i stood up all i hear was popping in 3 locations. My ankle, knee and hip. I was in pain for 2 days finally went to the ER and they did an xray of my knee. Didnt have any answers. A month or so later I kneeled on my daughter’s bed to make it and my leg locked. I had to throw it straight to pop it back. It was painful. Then a couple months later I was sitting at the table with my leg tucked around the leg of the chair and it popped out but didnt notice until I stood up and screamed in pain. Threw my leg quickly to pop it back in. Since August I have not been able to squat fully or bend my leg back (foot to butt while laying in bed) as it feels like something is pulling in the knee area behind my knee cap.

  2. Mare says:

    I too suffer for knee lock . I’ve had it since childhood. It often takes 5-20 mins to straighten out knee and is tender for 8-10 hours after- but I can walk around . It can happen anytime my knee is bent. I avoid sitting on my knees with my full body weight. It is very painful. I dread it happening – at times my body gets a warning sign and I can quickly straighten my leg out so the locking doesn’t happen

    • Lorena says:

      How do you straighten it? This is my 3rd time any tips? I’m on the edge of my bed. I’m rubbing the location with bengay. Same situation as yours

      • admin says:

        Lorena, if the lock is caused by fibial head displacement, I’m not sure Ben Gay will help relieve the lock. If I get a lock while laying down, I use my fingers to massage and manipulate the tibia-fibial head area while gently moving my lower leg. It can take 30 minutes or longer to unlock when I’m horizontal. If possible, try to move your lower leg over to the side of the bed and let it hang over the edge. Then, with both arms, try gently pushing your body upwards, so that gravity is pulling the lower leg downward as your locked joint tries to straighten. This could be too painful. But if you can bear it, I’ve found that gravity pulls my lower leg in the proper direction to reset the fibular head (which infers that the head displaces upwards towards the thigh).

      • Amanda Ahart says:

        Straighten it out little by little while rubbing around your knee cap takes a while but I found it to work for me.

        • Sherry says:

          This is exactly what I have learned to do also. At first I just literally screamed while I straightened my leg and it popped back in. My family doctor and my ortho doctor both say it can’t happen. Both knees do it. If it is out particularly bad, I can’t walk for awhile because of the pain going down my leg. Finally, I know I am not the only one and not losing my mind!

      • My Dad has Sh1t Knees Too : ( says:

        Usually I ‘unpop’ my knee by moving it the same way I suppose doctors reduce any other subluxation or fracture…I have to have my leg essentially moved in the opposite way from the subluxed joint. So I or my husband will pull my leg straight at the ankle while my thigh is supported, usually pull with more…downward? force to try to allow the tibfib head some space to slide back into the correct place. For example, I pop my finger knuckles by wrapping my hand around my whole finger and pulling the finger away from my hand, kind of the same idea. Pull the lower leg away from the knee.

        Anyway, to the author…THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I’d ALWAYS assumed something had dislocated because up until it actually LOCKED one winter, I could move it…it just really hurt. This time I couldn’t straighten it out entirely. That’s when an MRI showed a bucket handle tear. It was repaired, and I was ok for 5 or so years, before the popping out started happening again. After it got so bad it did it 95% of the time I sat with my knee as you describe, I finally saw another surgeon at the same practice. He was SURE it was something else, that meniscus repairs don’t need a second scope except in a tiny minority. An MRI showed the repair had never healed. He did a partial meniscectomy, took about 60%. Good for about 6 months. Popping started up again in about 6-7 mos. MRI showed small tear remained. Tried PT, NSAIDs, taping…he just did a steroid shot today (holy smokes that hurts!!!!???!?!????!!) but I found your blog while waiting for my check out papers because he said I confused him…I wasn’t like any of his other patients. He admitted to steroid was spitballing the wall.

        So thank you. I wish I hadn’t gotten the shot now, cause I jumped when t hurt more than I expected and now it’s pretty bruised and swollen. But at least I have what I think is the answer.

        (Sorry to the person I was replying to to answer question didn’t want to leave two comments)

        • admin says:

          Yes, cortisone shots are painful at first; had one in my wrist for a continuously-throbbing sports cartilage injury. But the initial shot pain went away in 1-2 days, and in my case it 100% relieved the throbbing pain (for years). You might want to share with your doctor some of medical papers on this site, etc.. Thanks for contributing.

  3. Joel says:

    Hi – Sent you email yesterday and you referred me to your site. Thanks. I have similar problem when crossing legs and by the way, just laying down stretched out on sofa. Without movement, I can tell it’s about to knarl up and snap. Also, I am about to quit riding horses because after I swing my leg on horse, the action starts and can’t move (almost falling off horse too). However, it begins snapping behind knee too and in addition , the hamstring swells up. Have had 2 surgeries, and got a hell of a lot worse after second. Asked Dr. yesterday, why don’t you examine my leg and when you are doing surgery, look at the area I am complaining about. Looked like cat got his tongue (he has never really examinined my knee). Got another MRI yesterday with results in 3 days. Will take it and find another doctor. I actually am at the the end of my rope on this one. I will have to stop riding horses because it’s too dangerous to ride when this is going on. Any suggestions?

    • admin says:

      Joel, I feel your pain. The best resources I’ve found for TF displacement are listed on this site. Beyond that, I don’t know of any other surgical treatments. I really don’t think orthopedic doctors know very much about this problem, and it appears that TF displacement is very often mistaken for a meniscus tear. Be cautious going into any surgery, and share these resources with your MD.

  4. Neil says:

    Hi John,

    Thank you for building this site with useful info! This passed year my right knee has locked 4x when sitting cross-legged and standing up, twisting suddenly from one side with pressure on that knee, and a deep squatting position. Its so memorable, I remember it just like yesterday although I can’t remember what I did last weekend! When I straighten it out, its very painful and I’m close to crying (but I’m in public or my family is around 🙁 . I went to my My Ortho Dr. with these symptoms. He had performed knee surgery on the same knee for my torn ACL 2 years ago and took out my torn medial meniscus. I know for a fact my ACL was torn because I felt it snap and torn meniscus from knee catching on the inside of my knee (bucket handle tear symptoms were accurate and he went in with a scope and he showed me the tears he cleaned up). He did an MRI after I told him about the outside knee locking and needing to straighten it out and he said based on the scan my ACL was completely torn which was discouraging given surgery and rehab (although I never felt it tear). I’m wondering if that was a misdiagnosis now, because he did initial acl tests (moving my knee, etc.) but he wasn’t sure it was torn and thought it was stretched or loose, and when he did those same tests before surgery, he knew for certain it was gone. Also, because I know that big thumping bone moving when straighten my knee is the same as what I’ve read and not some meniscus tear catching (that I can move away with my fingers) …Anyway, thats my story! I’ll continue exercising my knee, what are the best muscles to work out (quad and hamstring you mentioned those exercises? Does the calf or butt muscle make a difference?) Does taking glucosamine with msm help? Thank you again!

    • admin says:

      Neil, your story is all too common. Meniscus surgery, but the knee lock remains. To strengthen the muscles around the knee, I do the following high intensity workout once or twice a week: Leg Press, Lying Leg Curls, Leg Extensions. Improving leg muscle tone seems to lower my incidence of knee lock. But be careful with all exercises and talk your ortho first, as an underlying knee or leg condition could be worsened by certain exercises, especially extensions.

      • Neil says:

        Thanks, yes I recall my Physical Therapist saying to me not to do the knee extensions specifically. Take care and thank you again. Your explanation (your story) has now given me insight on my issue and I feel so much better knowing more!

    • Austin Baker says:

      So how do u put it back in?

    • Austin Baker says:

      Any methods on how to unlock it, I’m 15 and has experienced a 24 hour lock. I went to the doctor and took x-rays and nothing was wrong. This site list my symptoms perfectly.

      • admin says:

        Hi Austin, unlocking a knee-lock seems to be a very personal thing. If you read through the comments, you can learn a number of techniques and try them all. Let us know what works! JL

  5. David Bell says:

    Hello everyone. Thank you John for creating this website. My knee problems started when I was 4 years old! It started with knee locking. My parents would have to literally pull my leg back into place. My family doctor had said that I would grow out of it. As a child, it would lock up several times a week. As I got older, it would lock less frequently but the pain would be more intense each time. By the time I reached high school, the locking stopped. It seemed like once the locking stopped, my knee pain started. About 6 years had passed without my knee locking, although my knees would still hurt several times a week, usually in the cold weather, when I had sat for too long, or when I would stand for too long. 4 years ago, I had an X-Ray and MRI done on my knees. I met with a knee specialist. The specialist had said that I have ligament laxity, where my bones (all over) bend much further than they should. He told me that because my legs go backwards when I stand or walk, it was causing strain on my knees. But he still couldn’t tell me why my knees were locking, other than to say that they were dislocating somehow. He referred me to physical therapy (which helped a little with the pain but didn’t make it go away) and instructed me to take Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM everyday.
    Fast forward to 2015. My knees still ache in pain several times a week and my knee locked up again. I met with another knee specialist, who looked at my MRI results. He confirmed that I have ligament laxity. He thought the laxity was causing my knee pain, but he didn’t know why my knees were locking. He also confirmed that there was no tear in the meniscus, only some abnormal wear on it. He said he thought my tibia and fibula were scraping together, but he didn’t know why. He has referred me to speak with an orthopedic surgeon to see if there are any effective treatments.
    The pain in my knees seems to come from the front of my knee. When my knee locks, it feels like something dislocated behind the knee. When someone pulls my knee back into place, I hear a loud thump sound.
    I am so glad I found this site. I have always been good about exercising and doing leg exercises. I just wish there was a permanent solution.

  6. Steve says:

    Thanks SO MUCH for doing this research and creating this website. Just to add to the conversation it seems that this type of “knee lock” occurs to people of all ages. I am 25 and have had it happen to me several times over the past few years. I’ve always thought it was strange since growing up I did not participate in sports or heavy physical activity that might have impacted my joints. Unlike you guys I rarely am able to unlock in 30 minutes. Most recently I was locked for nearly 48 hours which I of course spent the whole time trying to wiggle it back into place. Luckily, I don’t get much pain when it is dislocated (unless im doing a lot of activity). I also do not get too much pain when my joint realigns.

  7. Rene says:

    Thanks for all the info…ive had two surgries on the same knee…first one was for a football injury i tore some meniscus…surgery went good no problems till i started wprking out again. Thats when i started to experience the “locking”. At first all i had to do was straighten it and it would pop back in. As time went on and the more times it happened it took longer and long to be able to unlock it…now it takes days..idk what to do anymore, im currently looked right now..its really painful.

  8. Harsh Pareek says:

    Wow!! this is exactly my story. Normally I wiggle it and it unlocks in 30-40 minutes, but today it has been locked for 6 hours. Can someone post some tips or tricks they have used in the past that works. Really appreciate any tips. Author said in this article that you have found various ways of unlocking the knee (discussed later) but you never discussed it. Please post some ways of unlocking the knee.

    • admin says:

      HP, Sorry to hear about the 6 hr lock. I can’t give medical advice, but I can tell you some things I do to relieve my own knee lock. One thing I do is to sit in a chair with arms and let the locked leg hang as loose as possible (I know, the pain may not allow this.) Then I use my arms on the chair arms to lift my body up so that the locked leg attempts to extend under its own weight. In my case, gravity often pulls the knee out of its locked condition. But in some cases it might pull it further out of joint (?), so use caution. The only other method I’ve found is to deeply massage the TF joint, almost like putting the bone back into the socket (?). If your knee lock is TF joint-related, you may actually feel the bone move around and be able to push it back into place. This is my experience, only. Again, I’m not an MD and cannot give medical advice, nor is this intended as anything other than personal experience.

      • Eugene S Conlin says:

        Thank you for this, I now have something to discuss with my doctor.
        I too have this problem with the locked knee, though there is a complex tear of the posterior horn of the medial meniscus and chronic insufficiency of the anterior cruciate ligament and buckling of the posterior cruciate ligament. Osteoarthritis has also been diagnosed both knees and lumbar spine (information from my MRI Scans March 2016)
        I am a 68 years old military veteran 501st MSS USAF(E) and RAF Regiment.
        My civilian doctor (in the UK)complimented me for my high pain threshold, but has offered little else.

  9. Jean wright says:

    Thank you for creating this site and sharing all of these stories. I slid on the grass playing kickball when I was a kid and think that fall caused my problem. I get locked in the bent position when I squat and turn medially. This has happened to me maybe 20 times , mostly a few years ago when I wore new shoes that probably altered my gait. I force the leg straight or get someone to do it for me. No way could I stand the pain for more than a few minutes (and I’ve given birth twice with no medication. ) The doctors I’ve talked to have poo-poo’d me with all your same misdiagnoses. Wearing a support bandage helps me a lot, but I live with this conscious thought of excruciating pain happening in the blink of an eye. It takes a lot of courage for me to force it straight myself. Massage doesn’t help return the bone to its normal position for me. Anyway, good to know I’m not crazy for not listing to the doctors and their expensive ideas.

    • Ellie Bryan says:

      I have a similar proablem, I am 14 years old. I do an acrobatical type of dance and my knee start locking out of place about 18months ago. Being 14 you wouldn’t expect this to happen but it’s very unusual. My left knee locks when I put a lot of force when knelt down on it, or pulling my leg tightly into my chest. After this my leg will not straighten and if I try I get a large amount of pain through the back of my knee. I went for an x-Ray and they couldn’t see anything and booked me in for a MRI, this also came back with nothing and the doctor told me there was nothing wrong. I then tried to unlock my knee myself, I tried to massage it but wouldn’t work. I then lifted up my leg while sat on a chair and rested my ankle on my other knee. I felt nothing but I put my knee down and I could automatically straighten my leg and walk about normally. The doctor couldn’t explain it and to this day I can lock and unlock my knee when I want to, if I never found out how to unlock it I’d still be unable to walk properly to this day. I would just love an explanation on what it is.

  10. Melissa T says:

    Thank you so much for posting your story. I’m 48 yrs old (female) and trying to get help for my dislocations. I have been suffering since before my kindergarten years. It’s been a long road and I now wear rigid braces to help stabilize my tibiofibular joint as well as my patellas. I have this condition bilaterally and never had it fixed. (Was told they can now go in with titanium bolts and permanently fix the area.) I don’t feel this is an option for me, as my fibulas are also lax at the ankle… Full dislocations at the knee while bent occurs several times a month and on occasions, several times a day. Throughout my life it’s happened over and over while being careful as to how I position my legs. I can’t squat down while shopping to grab something from the bottom shelf at the grocery store. I dislocate in public and it really scares people, even tho I’ve gotten used to it… It’s very excruciating now that I’m older. My leg goes numb from the knee down until my leg is pulled hard to get the fibula bone back in proper place. The straightening of the leg is the hardest most painful part of the ordeal. I’m sure it has left me with other damage afterwards… Was told the longer I’m left dislocated, that the nerves and tissues can begin to die… My calf muscles are huge and work overtime straining to hold the tibiofibular joint together, actually to hold the fibula in place. All of my life I was told to strengthen the leg muscles. Now, at night I have terrible leg pain and muscle cramping. I was given advice that physical therapy and repetitive movement would only increase my ligament laxity and cause more wear CV and tear. It appears I may have ehlers-danlos syndrome type 3 hypermobility. I have never been diagnosed as of yet by a geneticist, but as a child I also had trouble with other areas of the body being lax. I never outgrew anything as the doctors had promised and I’m worried about my future. The damage has affected my ability to climb stairs and within the last few years it has caused me to have trouble while driving. It’s difficult to press the brake and gas pedals when I subluxate in the car. I live in Ohio and was wondering if someone could point me in the direction of a good orthopedist in my state

    • Melissa T says:

      Also to add to my situation, I had to dislocate my tibiofibular joint for my doctor so he could inspect it. He was shocked and said it was fully dislocated at the knee. He didn’t leave me this way long bcus it would cause further damage. Both legs are making me miserable.

  11. Rachel says:

    I have been suffering this for around 15 years now, with frequency and pain becoming worse with age. It actually happened today hence googling this page, and I unlocked it fairly quickly and easily after doing previous research where several people had recommended leaning into the knee joint (if cross legged) for a couple of minutes, as it seemed to help unlock it somehow. Must say this has worked well for me the last 2 times, have been stuck in agony for half hr or more trying to manipulate it myself in the past. Hope this helps someone!

    • Otabi Tarfa says:

      Thank you Rachel for this, it was really helpful. My knee locked a few days ago for the first time, I was in pain for over 48 hours. I tried different things to unlock, but no success. I tried what you suggested here and it unlocked immediately.

    • Otabi Tarfa says:

      Thank you, Rachel for this, it was really helpful. My knee locked a few days ago for the first time, I was in pain for over 48 hours. I tried different things to unlock but no success. I decided to give your method a try and it unlocked immediately. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m grateful for this site.

    • Yitzi says:

      To Mr. La Grou: Thank you for this website! As with Melissa T., I also have this condition bilaterally. I’ve seen 2 orthopedists, had x-ray’s & MRI’s on both knees. The MRI’s showed no torn menisci and I’ve had no surgeries. My knee locked most recently for roughly 5 hrs, due to a “deep squat with a twist”. I went to the ER. In summary: ER staff will do everything they can to help you, but they likely won’t know how. I asked directly (and multiple times to multiple personnel) for someone to “reset” my knee by pulling on it. No one was willing to. My spouse tried but no luck. And if you go to the ER, if there even is an orthopedist on site, it’s possible they might not know what to do either. Though they may be willing to “reset” it. The ER sent me home with an Ace bandage and crutches, knee still locked and in the usual severe pain. The takeaway is: don’t get your hopes up that the hospital can fix it, you really ought to try and pop it back in yourself. It usually pops back in on its own after roughly 2 – 5 minutes. I have previously achieved this by slowly extending it and pushing through the pain, either while standing or seated on the floor. However that didn’t work last night so I went to the hospital.

      To Rachel: when I came home I tried your solution and it worked! What an immediate relief!

      Again to Mr. La Grou: I will discuss these journal articles with my orthopedist next week.

  12. Don Cady says:

    My wife started having a serious tf displacement problem a couple of months ago. When the tf is out she can barely move. She painfully uses crutches. She cannot predict when it goes out. It goes out several times a week, sometimes several times a day.
    She has found the getting on the bed on her hands and knees and gently rocking puts things back.

  13. Mary says:

    Hi all! I read your posts and it sounds like something that may be wrong with me. I’m 54 years old and I’ve been having problems with my knee locking in this spot. I have osteoarthritis in both knees, but I know this and it’s a completely different pain. I had exploratory surgery almost 2 weeks ago. They didn’t find a tear, but found my knee area full of arthritis. They cleaned it all out. I’m going to physical therapy and the swelling is finally starting to go down. I’m thinking that it’s a fixed….wrong. Two days ago, it started locking again. I’d like to add another symptom though. Before the surgery, what took me to doc in the first place was that while driving, as I moved my foot from the gas to the brake, the pain would start in the fibula joint area and travel down to the heel of my foot. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 10. It would lock after having my legs crossed, standing up too quickly, or walking down stairs. I have an amazing physical therapist who is trying to help me figure this out.

  14. Katherine says:

    Hi, I’ve found reading everyone’s comments and the page very helpful. I’m 15 and have had this for the past couple of years. I’ve had it about 5 times now. At first I thought that it was just cramp and walked it out but was still very painful. The most common time my knee locks is when I move suddenly and have been in the car a few times. I have all the symptoms that are listed here, not being able to straighten leg or walk on it without excruciating pain, loud pop and instant relief, soreness and inability to fully bend leg afterwards. The 3rd time it happened my dad told me to pull my toes and heel up as many sports players do when they get cramp. I couldn’t do this so he did it for me and I felt and heard the knee unlock. I stretched it out a bit after that and then got back in the car to drive on. A few minutes later my leg locked again so we had to stop and pop it back. Yesterday my leg locker for the first time in maybe 4 months. It was terrifying as I was in the sea surfing with 7 ft waves breaking behind me. Luckily my dad was in there with me but I couldn’t move and it was getting increasingly worse as the waves pushed against my leg. We got to the shore after about 10 mins. I tried to walk with support but it was too painful to put weight on the leg. Some other people in the sea then came over as they noticed something was wrong. One man said that he commonly gets cramps so made me lie down while him and my dad elevated my leg and push the foot and move leg a bit. This only took about 10 seconds to make it unlock. The pop was so loud that the two men could hear it and feel it in my leg. We though I may have had a dislocation because this was much worse that normal cramp so I came on here and I’m sure that my knee locks. The loud ‘thunk’ that we feel and hear, for me has got worse each time. If anyone has any other ways of unlocking the knee then I would really appreciate you posting them on here.

  15. Wissam says:

    Thank you John for creating this forum, and for everybody. I’m 42, experienced the first lock during kickboxing training around 9 months back and have been going in circles for 9 months between several docs … Xray, Mri, Meniscus tear, IT band, physio, etc. I’m glad I listened to my body and didn’t do the meniscus tear procedure. My story is yours and I only discovered this few hours ago at the clinic of a new doc who got curious and asked me to actually lock and unlock my knee in his clinic while he was holding it. I did it twice and the doc experienced the THUNK first hand. Tomorrow the plan is to do Xray and MRI while my knee is locked to confirm and further specify the exact condition in order to explore solutions. I will loop back to the group with anything useful…

    • admin says:

      Wissam, you are very brave for intentionally locking and unlocking your knee. Pain … for medical science! Getting your locked leg in and out of the MRI table could be quite an ordeal. Let us know the results. I’m sure the orthopedic community would be interested in the results and MRI images of your personal experiment. I can post the images here, if you wish, along with any comments from your doc.

  16. Wissam says:

    Thanks John. So I spent half a day between the MRI and Xray rooms, taking several angles of my knee in locked and unlocked position. Turns out my story is different and unheard of. My fibular head is not popping out of place. It is rather my lateral meniscus that is. The whole C-shaped thing pops out of place creating blockage in the knee joint, and then is squeezed back into place as I force open my knee. The pain when I do this is fairly tolerable but I was advised not to do it as it could tear the meniscus, which shows some degeneration. So my doctor will be researching this and get back to me. In principle I can continue with any activity that doesn’t trigger this issue, which so far seems mainly related to pressure on my knee while fully bent (like a when kneeling). Hypermobile lateral meniscus is what the doc called my problem. I’ll keep the forum posted on notable findings and would appreciate any useful info in return …

    • B says:

      This is exactly what i was diagnosed with. ‘Hypermobile lateral meniscus’ – I got surgery in late november 2016 and are now getting ready to resume my main sport (squash). Recovery has taken time, but it was strongly suggested to take it slow. The surgery confirmed that a part of my lateral mensicus was moving freely and the doctor could manually pull it into the joint to confirm. He used a system called fast-fix and stitched my meniscus in the correct place and it should hopefully “reattach”. The surgeon was quite positive and had seen this before. I start playing again in a few weeks, only time will tell I guess 🙂

      I realize that you posted quite a while ago, but thought I could leave a message of what my treatment was in case you/anyone else never got any further with that exact diagnose as I have understood it is pretty rare.

  17. Tricia Braxton Perry says:

    Sadly, this is my story too. My knee locked just last week. It happened eight years after surgery for a torn meniscus. The surgery was a last resort after countless knee locking episodes since childhood. My teenage daughter also has knee locking episodes. The frustration of being misunderstood about this condition becomes just as painful as the when the knee locks. Because there’s no blood, swelling, or apparent bone dislocation I get the feeling that it will never get the critical attention it deserves. This condition has greatly taken away my desire to be athletic. Now, I fear for my daughter’s evolving experience.

  18. karen says:

    This article is close to the problem I’m having and I too, can’t get a doctor to listen. When my knee is bent and I move my leg to the side (example: moving my leg to side getting up from a chair.) my knee locks and I have excruciating pain in knee. I have to take my foot on other leg and push on my heel of locked knee side while rocking my leg. When I do this, I hear a loud “thunking” but it is in my hip joint, not my knee. All pain goes away and I’m good ’til the next time which is happening more frequently. Has anyone else had this problem? Thank you for this informative article.

    • Rich Jen says:

      Exact same problem, feels like hip. Happened 2 times to me, the first time a Dr. Was moving my knee and said he felt the pop in knee , I felt in hip,

  19. Svetlana says:

    Perhaps it will help you. It is necessary to pump the tibialis posterior muscle.

  20. Matthew Thomas says:

    I have the same thing happen to me from time to time, in fact it just happens about 5 min ago before I stumbled upon your page! What I end up doing is trying to basically work my knee back words or kinda back track to where it was before it locked up. And eventually it’ll pop back in with little to no discomfort. I remember when I was younger, I’m 27 now and it happening and not knowing how to get it unlocked. Thanks for building this website with all its information! It’s invaluable to all of us.

  21. Andy B says:

    Hi I am both a physician and a patient. I work in the ER and have many ortho friends who misdiagnosed me. Finally i saw the doctor for the professional football team who states he has heard about it but never seen it. They then diagnosed me with recurrent fibular head dislocation secondary to tibia /fibular instability. Diagnosis made on physical exam after anesthetising the area so i could tolerate the exam. Anyway the fibular head dislocates when the foot is held in plantar flexion and internal rotation and flexion at the knee ( crossed leg position ).
    I practice jiu jitsu and am basically unable ready to quit because of this horrible problem that is so painful when it occurs. Has anyone found a solution? has anyone had surgery that works?
    MRI is always normal and multiple doctors offered me Meniscus surgery prior to correct diagnosis.

    • EA says:

      Hi Andy B,

      Mine also occured when sparring in jiu-jitsu. I first heard a little cracking sound in my knee, nothing major. But i knew it was going to affect my knee somehow. First few months i couldn’t sit on my injured right knee, beacuse it couldn’t bend all the way inwards. After a few weeks i’ve experienced my first lock. I’ve panicked, but was somehow able to straighten my leg quickly with the accompanied pain of course. In the upcoming months it happened more and more until i found the position it locked up the most. I didn’t practice jiu-jitsu until than and i’ve tried to avoid that position as much as possible.
      After a while i’ve decided to go to the orthopedic surgeon and had a MRI done. My meniscus looked good and the surgeon couldn’t really tell the reason of the locks. I was somehow happy it wasn’t a meniscus problem, but i still didn’t know what coased the locking of the knee.
      Even though it locks not as often any more, i’m still afraid to practice jiu jitsu. The pain is also much less and i can straighten it immediately.
      But i still don’t know the cause and i’m still afraid to practice jiu jitsu.

  22. Andy B says:

    Has anyone here tried PRP or stem cell therapy to stabilize the fibular head?

  23. Scott D says:

    I think I have the same knee issue. I’m 24 now and been having issues since I was very young. Three years ago was misdiagnosed with a meniscus tear and during arthroscopic knee surgery they found nothing wrong. It mostly occurs when I sit with my legs criss-crossed or when I’m playing basketball. Pain is excruciating at first and my leg gets locked in a very acute angle. It used to ‘unlock’ with no effort but now I have to kind of criss-cross it again and put upward force on my leg to unlock it which is not difficult and it’s quick. I thought only my right leg was affected but it happened to my left leg just now.

  24. Jamie says:

    So what do you do about this pain? And how do i work like this? I’m a fisherman and logger…is this a disability? Because this absent happend. Since I was about 9 years old!

  25. Janet Hylton says:

    It’s comforting to read that so many others suffer with the same problems as me. I jam e been suffering with knee locking for several years and until a few moths ago was able to quickly manipulate the knee back. It now takes several hours of excruciating pain before the knee is “normal” again. An MRI has shown no tears and the consultant has suggested an exploratory arthroscopy but I’m not sure. I am constantly worried though that the knee will lock while looking after my grandchildren or while out walking somewhere remote. Other options include physio and steroid injections.

  26. Elsie Derksen says:

    I suffered with a locked fibula problem for almost a year and happened upon this page during that time when I was looking for a long-term solution. In July 2016 I damaged the MCL and was off my feet for 6+ weeks. In September 2016 I started having leg pain again and decided to try a different chiropractor. He is in the same office but he is the owner, older and more experienced. He made a point of asking me if his colleagues had tried anything else besides unlocking the fibula. I told him no, not a thing. He explained that he felt the root cause was my sacroiliac and asked if he could make the adjustment. I said yes and the fibula has not locked up once since then. It didn’t only help that problem. I’ve had severe sciatic issues and extreme lower back weakness and pain for many years. All gone! I cannot believe it. I go back every 6-8 weeks to have the adjustment done if it gives me grief. I have a new lease on life!

  27. Kim says:

    Hi, thanks for the page and all your comments. I’ve managed to unlock the knee by compressing it. While laying on my back I raise my locked leg up (foot, knee and hip aligned in a straight line) and pull on the shin with my hands. For now it has worked everytime and there’s no pain afterwards, just some mild soreness. During the lock it hurts a lot, and getting into the mentioned positions is a hassle sometimes that causes lots of pain.

    I’ve had this issue for about 7 years now. Should’ve gotten into it earlier I guess. It’s just the doctors I’ve seen about the issue have no idea what to do. The first chiro straightened the leg with brute force during which I passed out. A week later – during the second lock – another doc said that in no circumstance are you to straighten it. So it left me kinda confused. And I still wonder if the first treatment just worsened the condition.
    For some reason I started looking into this now and was “positively” surpised that I’ve been lately getting same issues Elsie described a few days ago. I mean lower back and the sciatic kinda pain. I googled sacroliac that she mentions and it hit me that for the last year, usually after sitting for a long period of time, my hip would feel pinched and locked before popping open by walking around. I’m propably just jumping to conclusions, but I’ll try to get myself to a chiropractor and figure this out.

    • Tomi says:

      Hi, I unlock mine in the same way, although it took years to figure out. It started after a fall playing football aged 15, when it locked I would instinctively straighten the leg with force and would walk with a limp for two weeks or so. I’m now 41 and haven’t locked up for years by simply avoiding the cross legged position, but it’s frustrating because I want to get into yoga and I move in fear of the lock.

      • admin says:

        Ha, the “fear of lock.” I think most people here live with that fear 24/7. We become acutely conscious of positions that cause knee lock, and simply don’t go there.

  28. S. says:

    Hello. I’ve had the knee locking problem since I was a little kid. When I was little, I could straighten it out quickly and it would pop (THUNK) back into place. As a teenager, that wasn’t working anymore. If I bent my leg, it would occasionally happen, but it would last for hours sometimes. My right lower leg would be turned outward from my thigh and my lower leg was about 45 degrees from straight. A doctor looked at it and I had arthroscopic surgery, but that didn’t fix it. One day I stumbled upon a quick, easy and almost painless way of fixing it. I’d sit down, put my lower leg across my good leg and twist my lower leg in the WRONG direction by twisting my foot/ankle. My lower leg was always twisted outward, so I twisted outward. As I twisted outward, I straightened my leg. It works every time and takes just seconds. There would be some residual soreness, but it wouldn’t last long. Be advised that I’m not a doctor and other knees might lock for other reasons, so this might not apply to everone.

  29. Rebecca says:

    I have this locking when bent and knee going downward, i.e., sitting cross legged in yoga class and when straightening the top leg while on side doing a supine twist, both have gravity pulling down. To avoid it I now focus on flexing my feet in these positions to keep some tension in the calf, I also must avoid letting the toes to move inward. When the knee locks I’ve found I can unlock it by pulling the calf in and bending the knee in as far as it wil go and then rotating the foot in both directions until the femoral head goes back into place. Surprisingly pigeon pose doesn’t knock it out but I do keep the bent leg’s foot flexed as far as possible and I come out of the pose by rolling onto the bent leg’s hip.

    I’m knock-kneed, so, I’m assuming this is a congenital misalignment that’s brought the problem on. I first experienced it when I was about 30 and am 57 now; I was lifting firewood from a squat that probably wasn’t aligned. I can squat now in yoga class but I do it with care, moving into it slowly.

    As with most of you the dr tried to say it was a miniscus tear and didn’t even bother to hear that that wasn’t where or how my problem happens.

  30. Timothy Nelson says:

    I had knee surgery for a torn meniscus in 2015 because of constant soreness and swelling in my knee. I was doing fine since then until last night. My knee locked up for the second time in a month. The first time it locked up I hurriedly straightened it out, no big deal. The second time I guess was the big whopper. It hurt so bad and my wife had to help me to the couch. Luckily I was at home. Normally at that time I would be at work. How embarrassing that would have been. Trying to figure out my next move to solve this problem. I don’t ever want to experience that again. But after reading all the comments I guess I won’t be able to avoid it. I’ll never cross my legs again.

  31. Devinder kumar says:

    I am 69 Years old. I felt no problem regarding knee earlier. I could run around 15 minutes and was also able to jump for around five minutes and was also able to do yoga by sitting crossed legs.
    Now I have observed only knee locking once or twice in the past.
    In view of above, I have also started physiotherapy.
    Please advice whether I will able to run again or jump in future,as it is causing tension.
    Kindly help.
    Devinder kumar

  32. EA says:

    Hello, my injury has become less severe. It has been improving over the last couple of months. I didn’t have a locked up “knee” for months now even when i’m “forcing” to get one. Right now, i’m thinking about starting to exercise BJJ again, but i’m afraid it will get worse again. Can anyone in here tell me if i would restrain from training or start training again?
    Thank you

  33. Christine says:

    God, I’m so happy to finally know what might be causing this! I’ve been experiencing this sort of knee locking from time to time ever since I was little (I’m 18 now). Usually if my knee is bent and I put weight on it and try to rotate it at all, it feels like it pops out of place and gets stuck in a bent position. As far as I can remember, it’s only ever happened with my right knee, and it hasn’t happened as frequently as I’ve gotten older. It’s very painful to move it when it’s locked, but I’ve found that the easiest way for me to unlock it is to slowly sit down if I’m not sitting already, and ease my leg out so my foot is on the floor. Then I inch my foot forward using my toes until my knee unlocks. I can typically get it to unlock within 5 or 10 minutes. When it does, it clicks back into place but isn’t usually all that painful, and I feel relief instantly. It can be a bit sore for a while, but I can walk around on it afterwards without an issue. I’ve never mentioned it to a doctor because it isn’t usually on my mind unless it’s happened recently, but I’ll definitely keep this page in mind if I ever do bring it up. I hope my method of unlocking my knee can help someone else who struggles with this problem.

  34. Debi says:

    This began happening to me a week ago although it was when leg was straight, I turned in bed and immediately felt excruciating pain and could not bend my leg. I managed to stand up and within a few minutea something unhinged and I could bend it. This has now happened six of the past eight nights when turning wrong, and also three times when walking and twisting turning right (it is left knee outside part). The last two nights nothing has happened but the knee is very sore still when walking. I’ve been babying it and am careful how I turn in bed and walking. I am going to an orthopedic knee specialist today and expect the standard response that it is miniscus. It is the worst pain and I thought I may actually pass out. Disheartened to know there is no cure for this. I’m a 57 yr old woman, not overweight, never had knee issues. 🙁

  35. Beth A says:

    One of the best things I have read on a problem that has plagued me for the past 3 years. Thankfully my ortho just told me I was crazy after not finding much on my MRI. I’m in my early 50’s and never had any knee problems until a freak accident getting out of my car after a strenuous workout (my knee popped audibly). From that time, I continue to have painful episodes much like you describe. My ortho basically told me to keep walking to prevent it — which it does not. I have found that overuse can bring on a Baker’s cyst on top of the locking incidents. The only additional advice I can give is to stretch and to not fold the knees too far in. I tend to find that I have more incidents of locking when I keep my legs tucked under or stand too quickly. And yes, I get a very audible pop and a swelling down my calf immediately following. Would love for someone to come up with exercises or something to keep this from happening. I have not attempted to do any floor work since it started happening.

    • admin says:

      Beth, yes the “knee tucked under” when sitting is a lock trigger for me as well. I won’t feel it go out of joint until I try to get up from the seat, and then WHAM. Locked and terribly painful. Happened just the other day. Reminds me once again to be mindful of any situation which could cause a lock, including bends, sitting wrong, crossing, even going to sleep in the wrong leg position. Thanks for sharing.

  36. Fiona says:

    Thanks for the site and the resources! I wish this condition were more widely recognized, as it doesn’t seem to be all that uncommon. Especially as it relates to hypermobility spectrum disorders and/or Ehlers-Danlos syndromes and other genetic conditions featuring hypermobility.

    I don’t have quite the extreme sense of locking, but I do sporadically get sharp pains spontaneously, not from any trauma, just walking, and then my leg’s no good for the rest of the day. I have to rest and ice and brace. I think it must be the fibular head just subluxing. But I’ve only heard about this once in a HSD/EDS setting, during a pain management seminar:

    If it were more widely known and discussed I think it would have helped me recognize a lot more quickly that I had a hypermobility issue going on, rather than wasting time being misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia!

  37. mileaway says:

    This an interesting article regarding the knee locking up. It has to do with the muscle that runs from the inside back of the knee to the top. It appears massaging the area can produce results to eleaviate pain and occurances.
    Good luck!

    • admin says:

      Thanks. In the Knee Lock Resources page, you’ll find many articles and papers like this. We’ve had the Regenexx link up for years. Good information. Based on the medical papers and references, it seems tibio-fibular locking can be caused by a number of sources, including genetics, injury, age degeneration, muscular activity, and so forth. In most knee-lock cases I’ve heard about, it seems the most common trigger is when the leg is placed into a position that causes the T-F joint to partially dislocate. Moreover, I’ve found that strengthening the leg muscles through leg exercises (curls, press, etc.) seems to help reduce the incidence of knee-lock.

  38. Nora Huber says:

    Has anyone with a dx of osteoarthritis gotten kneelock? I’m 70 years old and have had knee arthritis for several years with minimal discomfort, only in climbing stairs. A few months ago I had my knee lock and had similar symptoms as mentioned here. Initially I was able to wiggle my knee back and forth and it unlocked in a matter of minutes. Recently, it locked so badly that I couldn’t stand and it lasted about an hour. The orthopod gave me a shot of cortisone last week. The x-ray showed severe kneecap arthritis and “possibly” a bone chip. He said if this doesn’t help I will need a total knee replacement. This really scares me. Just wondering if anyone had a similar dx . If so, did this knee locking get worse over time

  39. E. Adams says:

    I’ve had this same issue since I was a little girl, a guess would be at the age of 10. As mentioned in previous comments, I too avoid sitting on my knees. The first time it happened to me it truly scared me. I forced my leg straight and I felt my knee pop and go back into place. It’s not easy and it hurts when I straighten it but I couldn’t imagine the pain lasting any longer than a few seconds. Kudos to those who have been patient.
    I am now 33, the knee locking is less frequent because I am more aware of what I am doing and what positions trigger the locking. Unfortunately, though, I am suffering from chronic knee pain, in the same knee. Some days are good, some are bad. I just hope it doesn’t progress any worse than what the pain is now or a visit to the doctor may be in my future.

  40. Wayne says:

    Hi guys I have the same problem but mine can lock just from turning my ankle the wrong way I use to be able to just push my leg straight and it would pop and be good ..I can no longer do that it locked yesterday and is still locked any suggestions on how to get it to unlock

  41. SL Little says:

    My knee lock issues are the same as others. I have an osteopathic doctor that does alignments for my back and when the knee lock happens and basically cripples me she is able to manipulate the bone back in place. Her technique keeps me upright.
    I have never been able to unlock on my own. Maybe a chiropractor would also have the ability to align the bone and unlock the knee. No matter what the underlying reason for this happening living with it is unpredictable and painful when it happens.

  42. Jim H says:

    Exactly describes my injury. Onset last August. Rock climbing – high stepped and pressed down on an internally torqued toe – felt popping and crackling in back of hamstring and knee. It has been locking ever since whenever put into any significant flexion. A ganglion cyst formed at the tib fib joint. Doctors tried needling the cyst and I had that knee scoped and meniscus clean up last November – no change whatsoever – total waste of time and money. When it locks, it basically seizes in a half flexed position and it is unpleasant though not searing pain. I unlock it by extending that leg hard for a few seconds – it THWACKS back into place – sometimes will then swell and be sore for a couple of days – sometimes almost back to normal within a few minutes.
    There is a guy in Vail who treats these – will try to see him next month. If anyone has had an unstable tib surgically repaired, I would love to hear about it. My sense is that this is not in the “playbook” of most sports orthopedic clinics – everything looks like arthritis, meniscus, or the alphabet ligaments to them – and you get only quizzical looks when you describe it. I felt I had to take my wife to “verify” the phenomenon lest they think I’m some hypochondriac.

    • admin says:

      Jim, thanks for sharing this. It’s an important comment for a number of reasons. Would you be willing to share the name of the doctor in Vail? I think most people presenting with tib-fib instability have experienced the same “quizzical” blank-stare response from their orthopedic doc. When I told my ortho (15 years ago) that a “big bone is shifting in and out of place” he laughed and told me “that’s really not possible.” Most docs, it seems, have never heard of tib-fib instability and its central role in many (perhaps most) knee lock presentations. And with meniscus surgery as the #1 orthopedic procedure today ($$), why would ortho docs want to kill their golden goose?

      Ultimately, this issues gets back to medical schools. If they don’t teach it, then it won’t be diagnosed.

  43. Chad says:

    After being told my knee was perfectly healthy (doc was surprised he didn’t notice arthritis in the MRI). Said maybe scoping the joint was the way to go next? My brother, sister, and I have intermittently suffered from this condition and your site was the first place any of us have found any sort of discussion. It’s nice to know what I know has been happening to my knee is “possible” despite the doc’s best guess. Thank you so much for this info!

    My nickel’s worth of free advice: Doctors are still humans who still make mistakes like the rest of us…. They just went to different schools.

  44. Anouk B says:

    Hi John, 2 years on and your conversation is still helping people! I have just found your page and can add myself to the club. I have hypermobility in my joints and started getting knee locks in my mid twenties. I underwent surgery for a torn meniscus and was told I had early osteoarthritis. I now also have fibromyalgia. 20 years on and my knee still locks causing extreme pain. It takes me about 15 mins to unlock it and has to be forced back. I get the thunk and pop and then tenderness for about 2 days afterwards. Your story is a godsend and I think I have finally discovered the cause of years of pain. Thank you.

  45. CJ says:

    I have problems with both knees. One locks if i get my leg at the wrong angle for too long, I know how to rock my knee sideways to relocate now. At first my leg would lock and it would take some while to restore correct alignment. This leg is not that painful if I avoid pressure on the ‘lock’. The other leg does not lock but seems to misalign then pop in just sometimes.- with quite some pain that lasts hours. This knee is painful most of the time, but varies with activity. Last year i was walking 20 miles at a time. Left knee pain now restricts me to just a few miles rarely.
    I am about to try ESWT. a new ish ( shock wave) treatment that seems to have success with tendon/ligament muscle problems but clear data on this new treatment is patchy. There are several different kinds of ESWT – focused, planar and radial which further muddies the water . I thought I’d mention this as there seems to be patchy understanding and treatment for this condition.
    I tried my doc, but a shaman might have taken me more seriously.
    He said if you can stand the pain, ignore it.

  46. Ezequiel says:

    Thank you! I was going insane trying to figure out what was this!

    My knee locks usually when I’m standing from a sitting position (usually on the ground) where there is lateral stress on my knees. Very nice detective work man!

    I’ve had this happen to my since I was 9 years old (I’m now 24). Although not very often, once every few months or so, it’s quite random. However in the last few years I discovered a way to “unlock it” without the forceful stretching of my leg followed by the aforementioned loud thunk. It might not work for everyone, but for me it works EVERY time:

    Try to bend your leg as much as you can as if you were kneeling on the ground sitting on your ankles. Then push it laterally in the opposite direction from the position you just were in and then try to extend the knee again while maintaining the lateral force.

    Doing this I usually can extend the knee without any pain or “thunk” and it’s over in a few seconds. Although I still can feel a slight discomfort in my knee for a few hours.

    Hope it helps!

  47. Devran Kukrer says:

    Thank you so much for making this website and researching about the subject! I am 14 years old and I have been experiencing my knee locking up for 6 years now. It’s extremely painful, and the only times I have unlocked it was manning up and very quickly straightening my leg. Once I unlocked it my leg was sore for a whole day. I have only had my knee locked like 5 times. Because the pain was terrible I have tried my best to watch what I do with my leg. Also, this only happens in my right leg because I happen to use it more. My dad is a doctor and he said eating bananas once a day will strengthen the bones in the knee, and I have since my last encounter. No one in my family has ever had a condition like mine, so I’m pretty sure I acquired this at birth.

    • admin says:

      Devran, thanks for joining the conversation. Perhaps you could ask your doctor-dad to read some of the medical papers linked on this blog, along with many of the comments. Perhaps he could formulate some advice for knee lock sufferers.

  48. Shri Kisna Mahajan says:

    I too have the same symptoms and have had this lock many times. Opening the lock is followed by excruciating pain. Can opening the lock leading to fracture here?

  49. HANS says:


  50. Jane Bogle says:

    Same problem with knee locking, happens maybe once a year, just certain position, at a 45 degree angle. This started in my 30s and I am seeing a chiropractor today because this time it lasted a little longer. I can relieve by rubbing it and it finally goes back in. I then use Tiger Balm to rub all around the side of the knee.

  51. Dan says:

    This problem just started for me. I have found if I lay on my back, pull my foot in to bend my knee to its max then very very gradually start to extend it while massaging the area around the pain, the outside of the knee toward the back, and trying to relax it is not nearly as painful when it pops back in.

  52. Carlos says:

    This is exactly what happened to me. I just had an ACL surgery 6 months ago and I am now on the running part of my rehab. Awhile ago i was doing “that position in the picture above” trying to stretch before my rehab session and then i felt something move. I got scared like hell because i thought my new ACL is messed up again lol. Anyway i still carried on in my rehab. Thank you for this info, now im confident that my ACL is still attached lol;)

  53. Timothy Dark says:

    I’ve had knee lock for years. I’ve been to doctors and they never knew what it was.
    I’ve talked to friends, personal trainers, yogis and Senseis and they had no idea what I was talking about.
    The internet didn’t exist when it first started happening, so I didn’t bother and just dealt with it. I didn’t let it stop
    me from doing anything. I’ve even had to stop during sex and pop the “knee bone” back in. Lol During a Capioera class yesterday I found that I couldn’t kick on one side because of it, so I woke up today and decided to research it once more. I’m so glad that I’m not alone in this sometimes painful, but mostly annoying situation.

  54. Rajeev says:

    I have the same issue for past 6 months and it started when I tried to unlock my car wheel nut , by standing on the rod , the nut opened with a jerk and all my weight came on my right leg and some muscle pulled on the backside of my right knee and I felt sharp pain in the back side of the knee, which I ignored at that time and thought it won’t cause any issue. Then I sat down near the wheel on my feet and then I felt something moved in leg and my knee got locked, I was surprised that what happened and I tried to stand up using my other leg. When I stood and tried to move on my right leg to move I felt very sharp pain and could not move even an inch. I felt so helpless first time in my life , I tried to move and did whatever I could in that state but it was all useless. Then my wife and daughter helped me move inside the home and I sat on a chair and asked them to lift my right leg and when they lift it , it popped and something again moved in my leg and the knee unlocked and i was able to move normally . After that it happened several times and I noticed that it always happened when I moved my leg in some particular positions and slowly learnt to walk and control my movements which lock the knee. I saw some videos and started doing some knee strengthing exercise but even with that the issue was not resolved completely. With time I also noticed that the frequency of locking was going down and less painful to unlock and I was able to unlock it myself without anyone help . I saw several videos on youtube and thinking of solving this problem and reached the conclusion that it’s the popliteus muscle which is causing it. So I found several videos on you tube to exercise this muscle and after doing these exercises and massage , I can see a tremendous improvement next day itself . Now it’s not locking even when I move my leg in those positions where it was previously locking , though while doing so I am very cautious and still fearful that it may lock again , so lets give it some time and then I will write about it that whether this technique worked for me or not .

    • Elizabeth says:

      I had this issue in July last year and was diagnosed with a torn meniscus. I had the op to repair it in November and initially it seemed to cure it. However, when I started to feel the sensation again when trying to straighten my leg, I did some research and this time found that it was likely to be the popliteus muscle. I saw my surgeon and physio and both agreed that it could be that. I was given specific exercises and six months on from the op, can say that I am now on the road to recovery. No more funny sensations when I straighten my leg, it is hard to describe but it seemed to be either the muscles or bones behind my knee at the base of my thigh that seemed to be moving. Exercise has made a big difference and I continue to do four simple exercises three or more times a day. I may soon be able to walk down the stairs without having the awful sensation that my knee is going to lock. It is better if I do the exercises just before I attempt the stairs.

  55. Annie Westcott says:

    I have had this same issue for as long as I can remember. I am now 45 years old.

    My right knee locks randomly in a bent position. It’s happened occasionally and I live in fear of it reoccurring. If I’m lucky, it will unlock fairly quickly but sometimes I am stuck with a locked knee for up to an hour before it will pop back in.

    It’s excruciatingly painful. I’d rather give birth to an elephant. A herd of elephants. This weekend, it happened for the first time in 2 years. Twice in 1 day.!!

    The traitorous appendage is swollen and painful still. Hence my hunting around the internet to find the cause. I don’t buy the ” torn meniscus, loose fragments floating inside the joint ” theory. It feels like I dislocated the knee and it pops back into place once it unlocks.

    I’ve apparently passed down the defective knee to my daughter, who is now 22 years old. She’s described the exact same feeling of the knee locking up and then popping back into place. She’s warned people that she works with to just put her out of her misery if it happens at work.

    I’m so glad to hear that we’re not alone in this. Though I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

  56. Megan Robertson says:

    Thank you for sharing this info! It’s exactly what I’ve been experiencing. Except mine didn’t start until shortly after giving birth, so I thought it had something to do with the hormones that relax the ligaments.
    The only way I can unlock it was to slowly straighten my knee until I have a very painful shift of the bone with a loud pop that people in the room can hear.

    I’ll be sure to try the massage technique next time. Thank you!

  57. Daniel Guise says:

    So glad to read this and the comments from others. I have had it happen twice now 10 years apart and the pain is off the scale. I had it happen just last week and told today by a consultant that I’m better just living with it as surgery would most likely cause more issues. Having said that, he wouldn’t have it that there were dislocation of bone happening. Assured me that it will be trapped cartilage. I described the twist and thud as the leg straightens but he just smiled as if I had no idea. Both times it’s happened lying in bed, making me paranoid now at bed time. I will read up on how people are unlocking theirs but I required gas and air at the hospital on Thursday as the pain was almost knocking me out.

    Thanks again for putting this info together.


  58. Rebecca Deeter says:

    I am so glad to find this site. I have had problems for more than 20 years. I have no memory of an injury to my rig knee. When it happens I am usually sitting with my right knee folded under me. It has also happened when I go to stand up or sleep with my knee pulled up or bent to long. I have always been able to either have my husband straighten my leg out slowly or if I am alone I use my left foot to slowly straighten it. Once I see the bone move and hear the pop the pain is gone but it feels weak for a while. Thank you for the knowledge that I am not alone in this problem.

  59. John says:

    Wow, thanks for this site! I am a 67 yr old male. When I was in high school, I slid playing backyard football and got my leg pulled back. Xrays showed nothing bad. Ever since then, I have
    Periodically experienced the”knee lock up”. Fortunately for me, I don’t get any pain that I can’t work through. For the very reason that you described about the mis-diagnosis, I haven’t pursued medical treatment. Also, fortunately for me, I can usually “walk it off”. Interesting that as I was reading comments here, I stood on one leg and lightly shook the locked up leg. That was the first time that I heard or felt it get realigned. A suggestion for others, the periods of time when I had fewer episodes, was times that I was more active at the gym, doing forward and reverse leg curls. Don’t push it, but don’t baby it either. When I was more active playing sports, I found that wearing an elastic type knee “brace”, helped to hold everything in place.
    Thanks again!

  60. Mika De Coster says:

    I’m a 24 yo former athlete also experiencing this same issue occasionally. I’ve had it pop out a few times a year for the past few years (was pretty scary the first time lol). What’s really interesting is that my dad experiences the exact same issue (starting later in his 60s) so I must have inherited a tendency for it. I currently a medical student and its great to hear more about these kinds of issues that the medical community doesn’t fully understand yet.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  61. Animal says:

    I have this exact problem as well. Not pleasant at all. The first time it ever happened was definitely scary. Only happens to me when I sit cross legged and lean in a way that torques it so far.

  62. Alexander says:

    I have identical symptoms and thankful to not only see I’m not alone but also for your research and the fact you are sharing this information. I have found that when my knee locks in a 90 degree angle if I pull my foot in towards my body and rotate it inwards (upwards as I’m usually sitting on the ground in pain) fully then straighten my leg slowly is seems to swivel back into place almost pain free.. something to consider, I hope this helps..

  63. Sh says:

    Have had this issue since about 12-13 yrs old, 23 now. Happens mainly if I turn in bed a weird way or playing rugby league and bend my knee too far, probably 5 times max a year (both knees). I think it would occur more if I didn’t give up contact sports.. Most of the time the only way to get it to pop back in is to get someone to straighten my leg forcefully. Whoever happens to have to do it freaks out and think they’ve just broken my leg the pop is so loud. One time I had to get a teammate to do it on the field and the crowd could hear it.Glad to see so many others with the same thing, I thought I was crazy

  64. Gasper G says:

    This is a very bittersweet site to find, as it seems that there is no cure. I have pretty much identical symptoms as everyone else, and the same story as far as experiences with the doctors! I first noticed this when I was 15 as a wrestler in high school. The first time it popped out I immedietly felt the ‘slip’ and went to the ground. There is know pain from 0 degrees – 90 degrees. From 90 degrees to 180 degrees there is increasing pain as if I’m pulling on a rubber band that is about to snap. I was always able to ‘pop’ it back in myself by fighting through the pain and simply extending my leg.

    However the last time it had happened in high school (a couple years later) I was unable to force it back in myself. I thought to myself, well this is actually perfect, because now an X-Ray will show that there is something out of place. However, the doctors were unable to put it back into place, and the X-Ray showed nothing. Instead I was drugged up and my leg was put into a brace (nearly full extended). I forget what exactly happened, but eventually I was able to take it off and walk OK (can’t remember if there was some pop that happened).

    Fast forward 7 years to about four days ago when this happened again, and again I could not find a way to pop it back myself. I went to the ER and the PA that worked with me was also unable to pop it back in. I sit again now in a brace on medication with an appointment to see an ortho tomorrow. I don’t feel confident anymore that this will be fixed with the meniscus surgery and frankly am terrified that this will happen in a very inconvenient place or time (i.e. driving, squatting at the gym, etc). I too am hyper aware of this knee (right knee) and will naturally move in a way that protects it now, but since the injury can occur during such weird times/movements, I feel like I’m pretty much screwed either way. I’m scared to achieve my physical goals now, which is very depressing.

    I have literally read every comment on this board, and it’s just amazing to see how many people have the same injury as me and are left with the same responses from doctors.

    The one question I have, since I did not see it mentioned by anyone else, is how often everyone’s knee (and body in general) crack and pop. Both my knees (especially right knee) I can crack by twisting the part of the leg below the knee which creates a very loud and painless pop. I do this maybe 50-100 times a day, and can always feel the urge to do it. Besides the knees.. my fingers, wrist, neck, and back all crack very often and loudly. I just get the feeling that this is somehow related, and I’ll experience similar problems with other parts of my body in the future.

    • Michaela R says:

      Just read your comment & how you compared it to a rubber band is how I just compaired it to my boyfriend & in my comment below! My knees also “crack”, I crack them probably 10 times a day, usually when I’m laying flat on my back, I push the back of my knee down into the bed & slightly lift my ankles/feet off the bed and my knees crack every time.. & I also feel the “urge” to do it, just like cracking my fingers

  65. Brandy says:

    I have had this issue since I was a young kid and my brother and mother have it to, so it’s clearly genetics. I can’t sit Indian Style on the floor or on my knees or it’s a guarantee my knee will pop out of place. It’s always my left knee, never the right. My mom taught me when I was young to massage the back of my knee to get it to slowly move back in to place. This always seems to work but hurts like hell when it pops back in to place. Often it will automatically pop back in to place because my initial reaction when I feel it is to straighten my leg. It always aches for hours after as well. Glad to know I’m not alone in this. When I wanted answers Year’s ago, the internet didn’t exist so glad to finally have an answer! Thanks so much!

  66. Michaela R says:

    Wow, you described ny symptoms perfectly. I just had this happen about 10 minutes ago. It happens to me roughly 1-3 times per year … usually when I’m seated “Indian style” and it’s always my right knee. I thought to myself, maybe it’s not just me & this is a “real medical issue”, (being only 23 my doctor sometimes doesn’t “believe me” so I like to really know what could be going on before making an appointment) I typed my symptoms into google & this article was the first to come up. It honestly scares me when it happens because it’s so tight and painful, I feel like it’s a rubber band being pulled tight and if I straighten out my leg it’ll snap just like a rubber band would. Great article! Thank you! I do have degenerative cartlidge in my knees (and elbows) and am now thinking that this is what is contributing to my “knee locking”.

  67. Brian says:

    -I m currently in a knee lock, and have been for the past 12 excruciating hours.
    -Everything you have described is identical to the symptoms I have each time it happens (even the doctors’!).
    -Usually it takes between 5 seconds and 60 seconds to pop back into place (based on a series of random movements I suppose si do in reacting to it). But this time I have been unable to unlock it (the pain is worse than ever!)
    -Any advice you have as to this 20-30 minute unlocking process would be of great help, as I am currently abroad in Vietnam, and unable to access a reliable orthopedic doctor.

    • admin says:

      Holy cripes, Brian. Not sure there’s anything I can personally add to all the advice given on this forum. Read through the comments and see if someone’s technique might work. Perhaps get someone to help massage the tib-fib joint area? Maybe some ice or heat on the tib-fib area? Perhaps some acetaminophen is in order, along with some strong Vietnamese Ruoue spirits, as well.

  68. Aly S says:

    Oh my goodness, I am so grateful I just stumbled upon this site!!!! I have been having this EXACT issue in both knees since I was about 8 years old (I am now almost 30). I had another lock up today – hence why I am on here now, but before that, it hadn’t happened to me in about 8 years. But now, I am pregnant, and I think that is what has caused it to start up again – hormones and hips widening. It happens to me at random moments like getting in the car, rolling over in bed, and crossing my legs.

    I have had MRIs, xrays, exams, tests, bloodwork, scans, you name it. I have seen so, so many doctors over the years. I was finally diagnosed with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome a few years ago by a geneticist. He ruled out Ehlers Danlos Syndrome for a number of reasons, but now they have changed the diagnostic criteria, so who knows.

    But through all of this, no one has been able to tell me what is actually going on with my knees. Early on, I suspected patellar issues, but that never felt right with the process of putting it back in place. I am also an occupational therapist, so I have done so much of my own research, but could just never pinpoint the exact cause of the “thunk” until today when I clearly felt the fibular head move back into place.

    When I was younger, I would spend hours massaging my knee and very, very slowly straightening my knee before it would pop back in. But today, I was outside in the cold and my husband was inside with a high fever, and I just wasn’t having it. I put opposing pressure with both hands on either side of my knee to begin straightening my leg, then moved my outside hand down to the back of my knee (intuitively right at the tibiofibular joint) and applied posterior pressure while continuing to straighten and support with my inside hand. It popped back in in less than a minute!

    Again, thank you so much for creating this site…it really is reassuring to see so many other people who know what this is like. Any other prego mamas here??

  69. Catherine says:

    Yep, same thing..same exact thing here. Drs, massage therapists, Physical therapists, yoga teachers are all confused by my description. Someone even told me I must be confused about where it is happening…uh, no. It often happens when I am crossed legged on the floor or have bent knees on the floor or bed and I pivot and it goes into the lock. My poor son has to witness and wait out my lock downs as I for some reason have them when reading to him in his bed. I can’t seem to remember the “no-no” positions despite the torture.

  70. Will Tregear says:

    Hi all,

    Interesting to read about people’s experiences here, especially given the difficulty in diagnosing this problem.

    I’ve been living with significant left knee pain for the last two years and have gone through several diagnoses via clinical examinations and an MRI- Patella Tendinitis, Partial ACL Tear and Chrondromalacia. Finally, after my last physio appointment a month ago, my physio noticed instability in my PTFJ on my left leg; a diagnosis which has a better fit with my symptoms- general knee pain, lateral knee pain, snapping and clicking of the bicep tendon, ankle clicks and pain as well as peroneal pain. I have only had one knee lock out, but am convinced PTFJ instability is the source of my pain.

    I’m curious about people’s day-to-day life whilst living with this condition. I am always in pain- 2-3 on the pain scale and, when active, have mild swelling at the back of the knee. Sometimes I struggle to enough stand longer than 30minutes.

    I can manage going to the gym but have struggled to return the sports I love- long distance cycling, hiking and basketball. Have you struggled on with your activities, sucked it up and lived with the pain? If so, have you suffered any negative effects beyond pain (i.e deterioration to the knee, further lock outs, becoming more debilitated)?

    Finally, I’m curious about people’s success with treatments/work-outs. Personally, the most effective relievers of pain and help in improving function were diligent physiotherapy, gym strengthening and pilates. Yet these were only effective for as long as I did them (5-6months solid work, 1 month more laid back and was back to square 1). At the age of 29, I’m still looking for different treatments. Has anyone tried prolotherapy or PRP? What straps/taping have been attempted? Has anyone had ligament reconstruction as described Ogden et al?

    Sorry for the saga,
    Many Thanks

  71. Rebecca says:

    So I have this weird knee pain. It happens when I am sitting with both legs on one side, or sometimes when sitting on my knees, or sitting criss cross (I used to sit in a why position and it would happen but I don’t sit like that anymore). Something in my knee will kind of get out of place or off track. This is causes a HUGE amount of pain in the knee area. To get rid of the pain and discomfort I kick the leg out. When I do that a couple seconds later I feel something in my leg move back into place. I have learned to kick my leg out immediately when I feel this pain.
    Also, if I leave it in this position for a long time the pain just gets worse and sometimes I can’t move my leg if I leave it too long. It is really painful to feel it go back but if I do it I know the pain will stop.
    I am 15 and an athlete. I have gone to the doctor and a physical therapist but they haven’t helped much. They said I had runners knee or it was likely just growing pains and told me just to stop sitting in those positions. Well, it isn’t runner knee because it has been a year and I still do the exercises I was given but they haven’t helped.
    My question is, do growing pains truly last like this and make a bone feel like it goes out of place? Please any help would be great. I have had this for I’m not sure.. Around 4 years.

  72. says:

    After years of my knee locking up on me, (I’m 65 now), I had it go into a position it hadn’t before. It slipped , the sound was like a crunch and thunk, and it left a dented in place where the top of TF should be. Had my husband not been there to hold me up I would’ve fallen and the pain was excrutiating. This happened on the 8th of February. After about 10 minutes it finally went back in place but it did a lot of damage. Very dark bruising on the left side of my knee and behind it and major swelling above and below the knee. Went to family Dr. on the 13th and he referred me to orthopedic surgeon. Saw him on the 15th and he said that that a TF dislocation from me just getting up would be extremely unusual and the xray of course looked fine (it wasn’t dislocated by then). He sent me to physical therapy for 6-8 weeks but told me to call him in a week just to let him know how it’s doing. Had my first physical therapy yesterday and the therapist felt it slip (luckily, so she could tell the surgeon) and thought I had torn a muscle coming down to the back & side of the knee. And there’s other muscle and ligament damage. The bleeding /bruising and swelling told them both that SOMETHING very bad had happened. I was hoping he could surgically repair it soon and I’d be on the road to recovery; but now it looks like a couple of months of PT and fear that it’ll happen again. Your story, and what you had been told about surgery for it weren’t very promising. The typical locking knee wasn’t that painful and I could get to go back in pretty quickly. This was a different (slipping inwardly instead of out) and much more serious slippage. Will try to write again if anything changes. Good luck to all.

  73. Carey says:

    I’m so happy I found this!!! I’ve been dealing with the same thing since I was 11. I’m now 43. It’s very sporadic and I can’t seem to figure out why it happens when it does. It comes out of nowhere. Mine seems to happen while I’m getting ready to sit not when I’ve been sitting for a long period of time. However, the movement that causes it is always the same. For the past week I can feel a weakness on the outside of my knee and the muscle above my knee feels weak. And it has been threatening to pop out the whole time. I’ve felt it “starting to go” and I quickly straighten my leg. There’s a slight pop but nothing like the pop that it makes when it fully goes out. Oddly enough, it feels like it’s getting ready to pop out when I’m walking now too!!!! I haven’t read all of the comments, I experience the problem in BOTH knees. Not just one. Does anyone else experience this too?

  74. Molly says:

    Thank you! Just had MRI and was told all is normal when I know it’s NOT. same locking and excruciating pain. Hard to extend to unlock, but can manage it. Reading of others is a huge relief.

  75. Zack says:

    THANK YOU! I felt like I was going insane! Everyone said meniscus tear/ surgery. And I was like I really feel it in my fibula.

  76. quilting_michelle says:


    Same story as everyone else. Locking started in the right knee when I was about 9 and continued until age 15, and I would get it back into place quickly and forcefully. Then a gap until I was 45 when it happened again and was locked out for 6 hours- I feel icing helped to decrease swelling internally and allowed the fibula head to finally settle back in, along with some good pain killers and muscle relaxants :). I couldn’t weight bear for a few days and it took 2 weeks to feel normal. Fast forward 6 weeks and locking happened again, but I was able to force it out but could not weight bear again for 3 days. Months of physiotherapy and strengthening in the gym has helped, so I no longer get locking but I feel the fibula head moving way too much, and you never know when it will lock again. The worst is when it happens when you roll over at night and are so defenceless. I have found KT tape across the fibula head, compressing the muscle and fibula head forward keeps it from popping out at night ( the fibula head definitely moves down and backwards when it locks for me). When I am feeling it is too loose, I wear the tape for 2-3 days, and afterwards things feel tighter for weeks. The positions that trigger it: moving the leg outward at the knee into a w position, sitting cross legged, or just sitting normally in a chair where the weight of the foot and leg pulls the fibula head loose as I try to stand. I just got an MRI that shows a meniscus tear that is flipping, and the musculoskeletal surgeon believes that is the problem, and that the fibula head could not possibly be dislocating- ha! I am glad to have found this site, as I do not want to do arthroscopic surgery when I don’t believe the doctors have truly diagnosed the problem. My mother has this problem too in later life, and hers was fixed with a partial knee replacement and ligament tightening. Obviously she had other issues, but she feels the ligament tightening worked for her, and has not had fibula head movement in 2 1/2 years! So I will show this site to my family doctor who has been very supportive and willing to look for solutions, continue strengthening and taping when necessary, and tell the surgeons I know they are wrong about my condition.

    • admin says:

      Michelle, thanks for the excellent descriptions. I encourage you to share the medical papers herein with your GP and musculoskeletal surgeon. Fib-tib instability may be the most common cause of true knee lock, yet it doesn’t seem to be covered in medical schools. With $4B annually in often-worthless meniscus surgeries, perhaps it’s no accident the orthopedic community remains largely “in the dark” about this.

  77. Katie says:

    I haven’t had time to read all the posts, but I am convinced that I have this syndrome. I am going back to my favorite prolotherapist to help me. She has fixed my knees several times and I have avoided meniscal and ACL surguries because of her expertise. Has any one seen a prolotherapist who uses PRP to strengthen all the ligaments around the joint to give it more stability?

    • admin says:

      Katie, thanks for sharing this. We’ve listed Regenexx on the Resources page. They do stem cell and PRP injections to “regenerate” tissue. If you have other Tib-Fib tissue regeneration resources, we can list them on the Resources page.

  78. Florian says:

    Wow, just wow.
    I am 28 now and have this condition for like 5 years now.
    I had my miniscus checked and they were fine.
    I went to 2 different orthopaedic specialists and both found nothing.
    I am from germany and jntil now I only checked the internet in german and cane up empty handed.
    After googleing in english your site popped up after 5 minutes.
    I’m glad to hear that I am not alone, sad to hear that there is really nothing to fix it aside from the usual muscle threngthening thing though.
    I will increase leg excercise at the gym and hope that it gets better.

    By the way, I’m usually fixing it, by pulling my lower leg towards me, while extendjng it back again. The bone usually snaps back into place without pain.

    Thank you and take care


  79. Andrew says:

    I have exactly the same problem. Your description of your knee lock is identical to mine. Add me to the list.

  80. Caitlin says:

    The first time I can recall this happening to me was when I was only 4 years old and sat with my legs bent on the couch too quickly and yelped out for my mum to pull out my leg to straighten my knee! I am now 28 and it has happened to me multiple times on both knees over the years. The best management I have found to be is not putting my legs into the positions that I know will cause it to pop out, basically not bending it over 90 degrees! Not really a way to live in fear like this if you ask me so I am contemplating going to see a surgeon to see what they can do and discuss TF joint instability and another thing called Plica Syndrome I have read about. The last few times it has happened to me by simply putting my leg underneath my chair at work, or bending down. The pain is so excruciating I am unable to kick it out myself anymore and have to go to the hospital and have morphine to relax me so they can pull my leg out! Not only traumatic but also very costly! Would be great if anyone could give some more advice as to treatment that is not just avoiding bending! I should also add to the people that think 10 minutes is long to have this happen I have sometimes been unable to pop mine back in for hours!

  81. Joel says:

    Fitst of all, thank you for providing this important information and making it possible for knee lock sufferers to have conversations about the problem.
    I am 18 years old, and since i was a little kid i experienced the exact same symptoms you have described. Every few months I felt my fibula head (now I know how it is called) moving out of place and I couldnt move my leg at all and had really serious pain. Unlike what you have described, I had to wait for only few seconds and than I could feel the bone getting back to its place and immediately after that the pain has gone and everything felt normal. Oh, and it happened ONLY when my leg was posing across like in the picture above.
    Since this case happened rearly and only for few seconds, I have ignored this problem and was not surprised when it happened again.
    This routine continued until last week when my knee got locked again. BUT this time, the bone didnt return to its proper position. After few minutes in which I was having strong pain, I COULD move my leg, but the pain remained as it was. I rushed ro the emergency service at the hospital, did an X-ray, but the weird thing is that the X-ray seemed normal. My TF seemed to be in place, in contrary to my physical feeling. The orthopedic doctor was in total shock when he heard my discription of symptoms, and said that a bone doesnt supposed to move out of place, and he cant think of any couse to my feel, considering the X-ray being normal.
    I got out really confused- the X-ray seems to be okay but i am still having pain.
    I dont know why, but in the next two days the pain has gradually gone, and the feel that the bone is out of place has gone too.
    I had been looking online for any information about the problem, something that i can relate to, and couldnt find anything, until I found this website. I was really happy to find another people that have the EXACT same problem as I do. My knowledge about the knee lock issue ends here, but this website really helped me understanding what to do next. I will probably do some physiotherapy and exercises for strengthening my TF stability because my instability is lite and does not harm my quality of life that much.
    Thank you again!!!

  82. Carol says:

    Knee not locking yet :/ But continued with repeated injury……..

    Thank you for your post. I’ve researched for hours online trying to find out what is happening when I squat all the way down so my butt is resting on the back of my heels. A slight twist of my foot inward while in this position has caused (I think) a partial dislocation of the fibular head which slips quickly back in, when I take the strain and weight off and begin to straighten my leg. The pain is excruciating and immediate. I’m still not sure because I can’t prove it after it pops back in, but I think the deep squat overextends my LCL and that pulls on the fibular head out. When it happens, there is a loud crunch/pop, I feel something slip on the outside of my knee, my knee buckles and there is a bulge on the outside below the knee. I first did it to my right leg about 7 years ago, squatting down for something under a table . Then two weeks ago I did it to my left leg, overextending a squat stretch, and then again two days ago, squatting down to hammer in a tent peg. The pain radiates down to the top of my foot and up to my hip. Then I’m left with localized knee pain (outside), stiffness and pain when walking downstairs.
    Many of the medical sites say it’s very rare to dislocate the fibular head of joint, but I cannot otherwise explain the hard deformity that pops out directly lateral to the top of the fibular. I also cannot find any sites that say overextension of the LCL can cause dislocation, but I’m concerned after reading your stories that knee locking and arthritic symptoms could be in my future if I don’t take preventative action to stop this reoccurring. Thanks again for you post. The closest I’ve got so far.

    • admin says:

      Carol, if my years of conversation with knee-lock sufferers is any indication, and based on the scores of comments on this site, tib-fib instability is not at all rare and actually far more prevalent than meniscus tear in knee-locking symptoms. But, as you’ll read in the “Resources” article, meniscus surgery is a $4B/yr golden goose business. ‘Nuff said. Yes, the residual pain after an episode of tib-fib instability is common, and can last for days.

  83. Devyn says:

    YES!!! This is what happens to me, exactly!!! Dang I’ve gome years without knowing what the hell it was. Thank you for your research!!!

  84. dee says:

    thank you ! very helpful!

  85. Beth Adams says:

    Thank you for this site. Three years ago I twisted my knee post workout getting out of the car. After several mris and two doctors, I finally had arthroscopic surgery on my other knee. Apparently in my attempt to keep the bad knee from locking caused multiple tears. But I still was having persistent issues (locking) on the original hurt knee. One time happened on a very busy ride at WDW. Fun. Mine is exactly how you and others describe. Happens 3-4 times a year and until today I had gone a whole year! I’m ultra cautious when standing up from a seated position. I think I’ve isolated it to happening when I forget and keep my toe pointed in. It’s a horrible pop and excruciating pain. Does anyone have a cure? I was stuck outside in the hot sun today for 20 minutes because I couldn’t get to my phone or yell loud enough for my husband. I normally have found massaging deeply and pulling my foot back (bending knee more) will pop it back but sometimes it isn’t easy or fast.

  86. Zoey says:

    What is the youngest here? This first happened to me at the age of 16 an still to this day (aged 21) happens regularly, I had an incident yesterday. Today its swollen an painful. I passed out with the pain this time as I had to bite something an pull the leg to pop it. The pain was surreal 🙁 I’m hoping I can find something to sooth the leg when it happens again as popping it seems to make it harder an worse to do

    • admin says:

      You passed out? Holy fripe, Zoey. Yes, many of us have experienced the terrible pain you describe, and it comes on quickly and unexpectedly, sometimes in the worst of public situations. With your young age, it sounds like you may want to confer with one of the doctors listed in the “references” area of the website.

  87. stegini says:

    Hi all,

    So thankful to find this forum as it describes my symptoms perfectly,

    I’ve been suffering with my right knee locking since I was about 16 (32 now)

    Had (like most) arthroscopy to trim meniscus which hasn’t done a thing,

    My latest knee lock was 2 days ago, I was sat in my car and ever so slightly moved my right leg to the side to get out and PINCH!.. locked!

    It usually takes me around 10-15mins to release it, I find standing up it seems to be more persuasive until THUNK!.. back in place, and then my knee is very tender,

    Like most I am so cautious into which position I move my leg into in case it goes again.

    Any recommendations on the next move from here?

    Kind regards

  88. Thanks says:

    Thanks for the site! It was hard getting through all the comments. Maybe another field with success would be helpful or treatment. I have the same locking started at 47 yrs old on my right leg. I was an endurance biker and runner even though 7 surgeries (2 acl on that leg) . I injured it in a fun fitness competition running on the treadmill. The immediate result was major pain from the tib/fib joint down 3-4 inches. I believe the tib/fib shifted irritating or effecting the peritoneal nerve. I told the Dr who said no it was knee (mRI proved there were things that could be cleaned up). (My knee also would get locked when crossed.) I did not believe him and got a second opinion who agreed so I had unnecessary surgery. It got better because I am careful with what I do and I keep the area strong however I believe it sill shift when twisting which inflames my peritoneal nerve so I am out of commission for weeks.
    I even when back (was a different Dr) and made it lock and he put his had and felt the pop saying it was the peritoneal nerve. He gave me A shot of cortisone which did not help. Now it has done it again and Dr is believing me and looking at option. His first step is to go back to the mri to see if they got that area. (btw twisting the upper body when running has injured before) He is aware of this problem and will be looking for literature and options. I will let you all know.

  89. Anna Reid says:

    Hi im glad i came across this site.
    Ive just spent 4 days in hospital with a locked knee for 3 days.

    First the thought it was a teared meniscus but I had a MRI and xray and nothing showed on either.

    I went to my physio yoday and she said that what i described and where the pain was sound like something to do with my fibula, nerve and ligament.

    Im terrified it could lock again cause that was a pain i never want to feel again

  90. Brian says:

    I’ve had this problem for a long time. I’m going to get straight to the point. I’m 25 have had the issue as long as I can remember. Most of the time It will happen when I have my right leg like under my butt sitting criss cross or sitting on my ankle/foot. Last Monday it happened. So I got prepared for straightening my leg and the painful pop back into place. I straightened my leg as much as possible and no pop. So I tried all techniques to get it to pop back into place and nothing worked. Here I am a week and some days in the future and I cant get it to pop back into place and i cant do anything cause i cant walk . I went to a chiropractor who I insisted it wasnt the meniscus however she said it is. Our apt yielded no results. Few days after I went to a orthopedic dr who told me yep you have a torn meniscus after I again insisted it wasnt. I’m now scheduled for an MRI however the cray I had didnt show any problems so I’m just preparing myself for no results from the MRI either. This is getting highly depressing . I dont want to have a pointless surgery and just be stuck put of place still and my family is starting to think I’m crazy . I’m in so much pain I dont know what to do :’/

    • admin says:

      Brian, that’s awful. Everyone here feels your pain. May I suggest you print out the data from the “Resources & Tips” section of this blog. Bring the data to your ortho and chiro, especially the paper from Drs. Kuhn & Sekiya. Also ask your docs to browse the comments on this website. Many people here have been diagnosed with “torn meniscus” — but meniscus surgery did nothing to improve their locking symptoms. Meniscus surgery has been called one of the “Top 10 Most Unnecessary Medical Treatments” by the Journal of the American Medical Assn. Good luck.

      • Emmanuel says:

        Hi Admin,

        I’m falling to desperation now. My story is that I practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and during the last 3 months my knee would lock up when I’m sitting on my knees or they are fully bend. I had several x rays, ultrasound and as the fellow Brian I’m also scheduled for an MRI. All the orthopedic surgeons that have seen me said that this is a meniscus tear and I should have Arthroscopic surgery on the knee. However whenever it pop up it’s followed by a dislocation of the fibula and it’s very painful. and it pops back into place I’m able to have full movement of the knee.

        I’ve tried going to a sports physical therapist for the last months and a half (around 10 sessions) but I haven’t seen any improvements, even worst it popped very hard and loud yesterday, so I started researching again and found this awesome website.

        Any advice on what are the best steps to go back to having healthy knees.

        I really want to avoid surgery because of all the studies that show it doesn’t work. Finally i’m taking all sorts of join support and lubrication supplements like Omega 3, Calcium, D3, MSM, Turmeric, and Glucosamine complex and somewhat relief the pain.

  91. Emily Dickinson says:

    I’m 16 and I have cerebral palsy I started to experience knee pain, as well as spasms and knee locking, after flipping my four wheeler about 5 months ago, at the time of the accident my knee was not hurting so I didn’t think that I had hurt it, a few hours after the accident my knee locked up and I couldn’t move my leg finally after several minutes I was able to straighten my leg out and as I did I could feel a bone popping back into place this has happened over 200 times since my accident. What could be the cause of this?

  92. Ty says:

    OMFG I am so happy that I’ve found this page. After 6 years of issues with my knees doing exactly this (mostly right knee) I am currently 5 months on from a double meniscus repair to my right knee and last night my left knee locked! I now finally have answers after years of miss diagnosis! Thankyou for taking the time to set this page up.

  93. John says:

    WOW! Have had this very condition for a very long time and have been searching for an answer. I can actually link my condition to trauma that occurred nearly 54 years ago. While playing little league baseball, I slid into 2nd base with leg folded underneath me and it popped out. As to not seem injured, I jumped up, straightened the leg (very painful) and trotted off the field telling nobody. I’ve been an endurance cyclist for more than 30 years competing in events of 24hrs or longer. So, I have developed substantial leg strength over this period. Sitting indian style and relaxing the muscles will cause this to happen consistently, so I avoid that position as much as possible. I have also had meniscus issues that were causing trouble as well. Four years ago, after a 12hr race, I sat in the backseat of a vehicle, and with minimal backseat room, I found my leg in that vulnerable position. Once my muscles relaxed, it locked up. However, this time I was unable to unlock it causing me to have surgery two days later to remove a foreign body lodged in the joint. This instance was completely different without the normal mis-alignment I experience, so I think it was a legitimate meniscus issue. In all, I’ve had 3 meniscus surgeries over the years, that have been helpful. However, I’ve received much the same reaction from physicians when trying to get to the bottom of my knee joint popping out of alignment and locking. You’ve described the same condition I have to a tee. Thanks for putting the site together.

    • admin says:

      “Sitting indian style and relaxing the muscles will cause this to happen consistently”

      Emphatic yes. Even a simple leg crossed on leg (see photo at top of article) will cause my knee to lock up. Like Pavlovian dogs, it’s something we get used to not doing. Woof!

  94. Bridget says:

    Yup, I’ve got it too, twist my knees the wrong way and wham! Knee locks in a bent position, takes about 10 minutes to work up the courage to straighten the knee, then the slide and the thunk. Very little residual pain or swelling and all feels perfectly normal within a few hours.
    I sought a medical opinion some years ago and the possibility of a torn meniscus was floated. But I knew there was a bone popping out of place, so I declined meniscus repair surgery. Glad I did. I’ve had the condition for decades, but have learned for the most part to avoid leg positions that cause it, so it only happens every few years. But I’ve always wondered what it was as it is very difficult to find any medical information on it at all.

  95. Joanne Farley says:

    It is so nice to read this and just know I am not alone! I have been having this same problem since I was young (8-10yrs old) and I’m now 37. When I was young it happened more frequently. It last happened for me about 8 years ago when I was swimming (scary) in a lake. Then all of a sudden tonight I woke up from a dead sleep to find it happened again. Not sure what triggered it tonight , after all these years. I’ve always felt alone and that no one really understands exactly what is happening. I learned that in time I could gentle ease it back in place. Sometimes it would go back in quickly and other times it would take almost an hour. I always need to bend it in further (in limited space), massage it and bend it in different ways. Thanks to John for connecting us and for the info!

  96. Jenny says:

    You are my hero!! Finally, finally I can know what is happening to me!!! I have lived with this since childhood, and after decades of locking and popping, the pain is unbelievable and the recovery time is extreme. When I was younger it would be a couple hours of pain, then days, weeks and with the last lock-up, it took a couple weeks to straighten without pain, but then I couldn’t bend, even just a little without pain or the sensation I was going to lock it up again. In total it took 5 months to not have that “pain” anymore. I have trained myself to kneel with caution and mostly I will feel that sensation start and be able to readjust before it hits that locking point. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and fear if I had this locking issue for more than a second, it’s always the same, it will lock and I will immediately kick out. I’ve never let stay locked, I don’t even think I had a conscience choice about it……no matter what if I locked up it was instantaneous that I’d kick it out. I was so excited to hear my exact explanation of what I experience that I had to comment……I can’t wait to read everything you and others have shared and educate myself on what this is and the correct terms of what’s happening and to what besides “my knee locks and it feels like my bones overlap and it’s not a pop but a thunk”, lol at least you get what I mean !!!! Thank you, this has been my struggle for so long-I’m 42, and remember this just always happening and no one understanding.

    • Anne Hersey says:

      Jenny! STOP STRAIGHTENING IT! That’s why you have a long recovery period. Just lie in the locked position and gently massage the area. You can TEST the knee a little back and forth but stop forcing it! If you let it unlock on its ow-which it will do, you will have little or no pain after.

  97. Lillian A Frack says:

    My knee locking problem started in 2015 I was helping my mom with her garden and sitting Indian style for approximately 15 min at the most and when I tried to straighten my legs it was like someone was holding my LCL with extreme force and pressure I finally forced it to straighten but the pain is excruciating and it happens to both knees. Is there anything I can do to avoid it from happening and what kind of exercises can I do I try yoga but can’t sit Indian style so please help!! I’m not overweight I’m 5’3″ 130lbs and fairly flexible for being 41 almost 42 so any advice will be greatly appreciated thank you.

  98. Chad says:

    Similar issue to everyone else, a few things to add. I’ve also found some articles about recurrent subluxation of the lateral meniscus which (from what I’ve read) present very similarily to what people are describing here from the perspective of the person who’s knee is locked. I’m not certain what mine is I Have no confirmed diagnosis but it has been happening since I was 10 years old. It used to happen to both knees, and any sort of sudden lateral movement of my lower leg could cause it as well as other situations. When i was 23 I broke my left tibial plateau and had a plate and screws put in. Those were removed but a large bone spur Appeared at the trauma site within a year of removsl and has changed my knee physiology such that it cannot “pop” anymore, so now only the right has this issue. When it happens there is a loud popping sound and a distinct feeling of something physicslly dtopping my kner from being able to extend. It is extremely painful and the longer it is “popped” the more it seems to swell. It always occurs when the knee is at Least partislly bent and I pop it back in by kicking my leg back into a straight position.

    • admin says:

      Chad, thanks so much for sending the meniscus links! I just posted them (16 Apr 2019) on the “Resources” page of the KneeLock site. Brilliant.

  99. Leander says:

    I am so pleased to have found this. Your story is my story too! Have had problems with my right knee locking since I was 42. Ex gymnast and am sure that has not helped and always used to sit with my right knee tucked under me . I now avoid the movements that reproduce the pain amd locking e.g . Squatting, kneeling, kicking out leg suddenly. My first knee lock happened as I simply kicked a blanket off. I’m in the UK where surgeons also did not believe my story of telling them a bit of my knee pops out. Glad to know I’m not alone and will follow for updates. Thank you!

  100. Lorelei says:

    I’m so happy to have found this site. I’m 14 and just experienced a knee lock Monday afternoon. I was sitting cross-legged and I uncrossed my legs only to realize I could no longer straighten my left leg without excruciating pain. As soon as it happened I went straight to Google and found nothing helpful. My knee was not swollen, red, or malformed. I eventually was able to get onto my bed and elevate my knee with some pillows (albeit very painfully). I had it on a heating pad off and on for a few hours and took some pain meds, all while I gradually straightened it out. My mom wanted me to just kick out and force it, but I was afraid of causing permanent damage. Eventually, at around 11 that night, I pushed down on my knee and felt something roll into place and all pain ceased. I could walk fine with only a little soreness after that.
    Lately, my knee has felt much weaker as if it’ll move out of place again. Though, I’m not sure how much of that is fabricated by my intense fear that it’ll happen again.

  101. Ivan Childress says:

    John, Thank you so much for posting your story and creating this site. I did see the old discussion board 6 or so years ago, and it helped me immeasurably, but I never posted my story, so here goes (this will sound familiar to many of you:

    I had this exact problem starting at around 15 in one knee (I am 45 now).
    Just like many people here , I was told it was torn cartilage, and went in for arthroscopic meniscus surgery at 17, but it was unsuccessful of course, with my knee locking up again a week after surgery. Eventually it started happening in my other knee.

    It had a negative impact on my physical activity going forward, as I was always conscious of it happening again and was very fearful of the pain (which caused my to pass out one time), so stopped participating in sports and many other physical activities to avoid risk.

    So many times I was told by Orthopedic surgeons that it was “impossible” that there was a dislocation and an audible “thunk” , so I just gave up and learned to to avoid certain leg movements, limit my range of motion, and just accept that I had “bad knees”

    Luckily, the frequency of the issue has diminished as I’ve gotten older, with my last lock up being about 10 years ago, (while sitting on the toilet of all places) I still get the occasional indication that it is about to lock, it’s kind of like an “aura” that is unmistakable. I do think leg strengthening has been helpful, in keeping it at bay.

    On a positive note, after reading the original discussion about 6 years ago, it had motivated me to not baby my knees as much, as I realized that my “knees” are not necessarily bad and filled with torn up cartilage. It was a big mental shift for me. Since then I have run multiple half-marathons and done a bunch of hiking and climbing with zero knee pain. Plus, since I babied my knees for so long, they don’t seem to have the same wear and tear on them that other 45 year olds would have, so I’m making up for lost time!!

    To everyone else out there with this issue, thank you for sharing your stories. I am truly sorry you have to experience this, as I know the pain and mental toll it takes. The great thing is that this information is out there now, and hopefully no one will need to go through 20+ years of not being believed like I did.

  102. Tarah Taylor says:

    PSA for people with knee problems!
    Last night I was stretching my leg with my heel pulled toward my chest when my leg popped and locked (and not in an awesome Backstreet Boys sort of way) and was shockingly painful. It felt out of place. I thought I knew what it was; a pettellen dislocation (basically your kneecap falls out of place and you have to snap it back in) because 13 years ago I had to have surgery for this. The orthopedic surgeon assured me that this was not the case after X-rays came back and that my knee was ‘locked’ not dislocated. Loooong story short he straightened my leg but something wasn’t right. It felt terrible I told him it wasn’t right and felt like something was out. He assured me it was more than likely a meniscus tear. So he slapped a long heavy giant cast on it and sent me home. When I woke up in the morning after the local anesthetic wore off I still felt like it was not just a tear. Thankfully I found this site and after reading about this guys experience I knew I had to get the cast off and try to pop my Fibia back into place. My husband believed me and trusted how I was feeling and helped me remove the cast. After about 10 minutes of massaging and stretching it popped back in. One lady on Thea comments said she crossed her leg over the other and stretched her body into the knee. I did that for a couple of minutes with no luck. Then went the opposite way with my heel to the side exterior of my body ( my late leg/foot to the left side) and placed my foot on the arm of the chair. Slowly stretching and massaging and it slipped right back in. Doctors don’t always know the answers. Trust your gut and do your research!!! Thank you so much to the man who made this chat!!!!! You are amazing!!!

  103. Eily says:

    I just wanted to thank you for this post. All too often we are completely alone in figuring out what is going on in our bodies because medical professionals are stuck in their specialty and have no tools to think outside the box. I tore my meniscus a year and a half ago. Kneeling exercises are part of my eternal rehab. Lately, however, if I get too relaxed in a kneeling position, my knee will lock up, and I have the same audible, and I swear visible, bone thinking you describe when it unlocks. I was starting to worry that I had reinsured my knee. But after reading this and taking into account my hyper mobile joints that helped cause the injury in the first place, maybe it’s not the meniscus.

  104. Lee says:

    Can you mobilise your fibulae head? Does it feel unstable? If not perhaps this is a biceps femoris subluxation

  105. Bingo….me too. I have OA in one knee from 40 years after having full cartilage removed during early teenage years (now 46). This is exactly what happens to me except it happens so often. 1-30 times per day…started just once or twice 4 years ago and has got worse and pain less as time goes by…cannot weight bear while out….otherwise pain excruciating. On the odd time that I have laded on it while suddenly out Ive ended up with a big blue bruise in knee a few days later I have found a good way to pop it in and another good way to prevent it. I am very active with gym, field hockey and running. Because of the OA there is a lot of muscle wasting on that side so that’s why those weak muscles allow it to happen. The only excercise I have found that works is jogging/ trail running….nothing in the gym or from physio made to much difference. If I run 5-15km, the more hills the better 3-4 times per week then it stops happening altogether. If I dont run for 2-3 weeks its going out 30 times per day. Mainly it goes out when I in bed lying down rolling around or when I have been sitting and I stand up to notice it out(cant straighten), some chairs/heights better than others…toilet the worst(I’ll explain why). What I have found is when Im sitting and it goes out. If I lift my leg 45 degrees up into the air, in the net position and take my two hands and and intertwine my fingers behind my thigh on the effected leg about 2/3 of the way towards the knee. Then I pull the intertwined hands onto the skin into the middle of the leg while at the same timepulling the intertwined hands and skin down towards my bottom. This effectively pulls the hamstring down towards the bottom. While Im holding this down and with my leg still at 45 degrees in the air I slowly start to straighten it and it will unlock. If not the first time then after a few attempts. The wearing of tight clothing or knee braces make it worse and harder to unlock. The reason this locks when sitting on the chair is because this is pushing on that hamstring. All i know is that this helps for me….have no idea about the longterm prognosis….suspect its doing it so bad because of the muscle wasting. Cycling seems to make it worse and running makes it better. I have got so good at putting it in I can actually do it without the 45 degrees sometimes with 1 hand and just tugging on the hamstring. I have even been known to unlock it like this without coming off my mountain bike. Would love to hear it this helps others putting it back in or with prevention of lock

    • admin says:

      Kia Ora Carla. Yours is the most aggressive locking symptom I’ve ever heard of. Truly 30 times per day? Gad, I can’t imagine. But it sounds like your pain level is quite low, and you’re able to reverse the lock fairly quickly? Have you definitely isolated the lock to the TF joint area, or do you think it might be something else? Does it unlock with major internal movement and an audible “thunk” or less physical movement and more of a “snap” unlock? What do you hear and feel when the knee area unlocks?

  106. Sara Bennett says:

    Hi. I’ve had the locking problem for nearly twenty years, albeit intermittently and although the leg straighten is excruciating, as everyone says, afterwards it’s as if nothing has happened after a couple of hours. I had knee arthroscopy in around 2008/9 supposedly to remedy my knee issue and surprise surprise, not long after the right knee went out again. So all for nothing. I had to have a rt leg hip replacement in Jan 2017 and for a while it’s all been really good despite stiffness in the right lower leg which I’ve alleviated by seeing a myofascial therapist which has helped. The last time the knee went out was about 4 months ago and it seemed to go back as usual after leg straightening. Gradually since then I’ve had what feels like dragging pain around the fibula head and I now have to walk downstairs one at a time and upstairs isn’t that great either. It’s now affecting me adversely every day in a very negative way and the pain is tiring. I went to see an Orthopaedic Consultant on Tuesday before I found this thread so didn’t have a name for the problem. Unfortunately he was very dismissive and said there was nothing that would make any difference etc etc so that was a complete waste of time. I am wondering if anyone else has had this extension of the original problem and if anyone has anything useful to recommend. I’d be really grateful for anyone’s help!

  107. Mark Doan says:

    Here is a web site for Kinesio Taping. Kinesiology Tape or KT tape seems to help keep my fibula in place and helps some with the pain after a locking episode. I also use some CBD lotion and it helps tremendously and almost immediately to relieve pain when a lock first occurs. It also helps relax muscles to help unlock my knee. After I get it unlocked then usually I put on some KT tape to keep it from locking again. My leg usually locks up at night while sleeping and is painful enough to wake me straight up from a deep sleep. I cannot guarantee the effectiveness and that it will help everyone, but it is enough to allow me to comfortably go back to bed.

  108. Sara Bennett says:

    Thanks for that Mark. I’ve done some taping before but ran out so will re-stock !

  109. John says:

    Thank you for this write-up as I now have a better understanding of this weird thing that has happened to me periodically since I was a kid. The lock up has happened almost exclusively while sitting cross legged on the floor though on at least one occasion I remember sitting in a chair while it has happened. For whatever reason, my instant reaction has always been to kick my heel out in an attempt to straighten my leg. Though it feels to be a violent process (and is very painful), I too can feel the large bones sliding back into place with a “thunk.” The initial pain is sharp and powerful with lingering soreness on the outside of the knee area. I’m thankful to have never experienced a lockout for more than a few seconds. One thing I’ve noticed is that the problem became almost non existent for a few years during which I was barbell squatting and deadlifting on a very regular basis. I had my first incident in a few years last week which I have come to realize may be related to falling off of my workout regimen.

  110. Natalie says:

    Thank god for this site. Thank you to everyone for your stories and comments. I have been suffering from this since I was a young teenager and no one else seems to understand what I am talking about when I describe the locking. I have had so many health professionals dismiss it as just a cramp or illiotibial band syndrome, and it has been so frustrating. They did not understand that I heard a huge thunk sound and a massive shift of a bone sliding back into place. But I was 100% certain what I have felt many times. Finally, finding this site and other peoples’ stories gives me validation that I am not alone and this is exactly what I have been suffering from.

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