Resources & Tips for Knee Lock Sufferers + Site Disclaimer

18 Oct , 2014  

Many (most?) commercial medical sites focus on “meniscus tear” as the leading cause of knee lock. But in my conversations with other knee lock sufferers, meniscus tears account for perhaps a minority percentage of hard locks. The resources below focus mainly on non-commercial knee lock information. Some pages are intended for medical practitioners, while others are for a general audience. The site is just getting started — I will be adding new resources on a regular basis. Check back often. If you have tips for unlocking a locked knee, or preventing knee lock, or link to a medical paper, or can refer a doctor or clinic experienced in knee lock, please leave a comment below.  – John

Dr. Kuhn & Sekiya’s seminal paper on tibio-fibular knee lock:

Knee Guru Online:

One of the best knee-related resources on the ‘net. Great forum discussions, tutorials and papers.


“Interventional Orthopedics” providing non-surgical biologic therapies. Also Google “Prolotherapy for Knee” for a range of “tissue regeneration” resources that may (or may not) strengthen the Tib-Fib joint.


Short for “proliferation” therapy, Prolotherapy is a somewhat controversial nonsurgical ligament and tendon reconstruction, or regenerative injection therapy. “Prolotherapy works by stimulating the body’s own natural healing mechanisms to repair injured musculoskeletal tissue.” According to my correspondence with them, this medical group has “had some success” treating knee-lock symptoms.

Dr. Robert LaPrade:

Anatomic proximal posterior tibiofibular joint reconstruction procedure

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 reflects anything close to normative, then a significant number of  meniscus surgeries are unnecessary shams. Indeed, there are numerous peer-reviewed academic studies all concluding that surgeries for torn and arthritic meniscus are generally worthless. Here are just a few.   (login required)  (login required)

If you want to add resources, or comment on the post, scroll up and click on the title.


A locking / popping knee could be the result of meniscus and/or popliteomeniscal issues. After years of conversations with kneelock sufferers, I’ve noted a range of severity in how people characterize their locking symptoms. I’ve noted that reports of less severe locking and persistent popping symptoms are sometimes correlated with successful meniscus repair surgery, while severe locking conditions (the “large bone movement and thunk” sensation) more often have no improvement after meniscus repair. This is just a personal observation and does not in any way reflect a medical opinion.

Here are some medical resources covering a range of these meniscal issues.

“MRI of intermittent meniscal dislocation in the knee”

“Arthroscopic meniscus repair for recurrent subluxation of the lateral meniscus.”

“Reconstruction of the Popliteomeniscal Fascicles for Treatment of Recurrent Subluxation of the Lateral Meniscus”

“Displacing lateral meniscus masquerading as patella dislocation” –


The information provided on this site is intended for general knowledge about locking of the knee area and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use the information herein to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without first consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

As a courtesy and for the convenience of our site guests, some pages of our website provide links to other websites. While we think such linked sites may be relevant sources of knee lock information, the site does not endorse nor does it control or take responsibility for the content or information on any external or linked website. Use external / linked websites at your own risk and consult with your healthcare provider first before following the advice of any external / linked website.

The website provides sections for site visitors to leave comments about their personal experiences with knee lock. The site and its owner(s) do not endorse or assume responsibility for the accuracy or veracity of visitor comments to the site. Use the comments on this website at your own risk and consult with your healthcare provider first before following the advice of any comment. By posting any comment or other material on, you give the irrevocable right to reproduce, edit, and otherwise use your submission for any purpose in any form and on any media.

While email addresses are required to post comments to the website, your email address and/or contact information will never be knowingly shared with any third parties without your explicit permission.

The website does not accept any advertising money or other form of advertising compensation.  If this changes, it will be spelled out directly via a post to the blog/website and/or the podcast.

The contents of the website are copyrighted by John La Grou. All content of the site can be freely re-distributed via hard copy or electronic copy with proper attribution.

19 Responses

  1. Diana says:

    Dr Robert LaPrade seems to be *the* guy who knows anything about tibfib injuries/problems. Of all the orthopedic websites I’ve visited his is the only one to have a page specifically about this issue.

  2. Jeanne Gheen says:

    Just found this site. I have been suffering from this since my first occurrence at age 10. I’m now 46 and I’m hyper aware of how I place my leg. The pain is excruciating and embarrassing.

    The worse part is two of my the children also have this. It must be a genetic condition. I’m writing because I’m desperate to see if you have found any more solutions. It happened to my little girl today, in school. She was sitting on her leg, it got stuck. She knows the pain. She tried to get her teacher’s attention. Not knowing, the teacher came over and just lifted her out of her chair. Her leg straightened but the pain was horrible and the joint did not go back right. She sat, in pain, in her chair with unknowing individuals who thought she had a charlie horse. She said she finally heard a “thunk” and it was all better. I really need to help my girl.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


  3. Mary says:

    The two possible rather immediate solutions I’ve found at two different discussion sites are:

    1) My knee locks since childhood. My sisters too and today at age 51 my kid of thirteen screemed to me “Daddy daddy theres something wrong with my knee, its terribly painful and my leg wont go straight”
    This is what i said…
    First. Remember the odd position you might have taken and beware of this in the future as it could happen again.
    Second. What we do now might or might not work but it always works for me. Don’t try to straighten your leg but instead bend it hard. SIT on your feet and press your weight down so your knee is as bent as it possibly can be. This should pop everything back into place. Gently try straightening the leg afterwards.
    The knee might feel tender for a day or so.
    Thats it.

    2) My right knee has locked up (that is, it is bent and won’t unbend) on occasion since I was about 8. Typically, it happened when my leg was in a cross-legged position (as some others here have described) or the opposite (with my lower leg facing out). I used to have to have it “manually unlocked” or do it myself, which was excruciating and left the knee painful for a day or more. Over the years, however, I’ve found that the least painful way to get things back in order (only tender for few minutes after) is to carefully get that leg into the same orientation as if in a cross-legged position (do what you want with the other leg) and firmly flex the muscles in my entire leg (mostly thigh, I think, in retrospect). That seems to unlock it with minimal damage. Once, though, I was sparring and it locked in the middle of roundhouse kick. I didn’t realize it until I snapped the leg out to full extension, at which point I hit the ground screaming. That resulted in a couple of weeks of hobbling about on a cane.

    Perhaps there is some combination of these two that could become a standard. They certainly have similarities. Thank you for this site!!!

  4. Frank says:

    My daughter and I have a similar issue. I find that the best way for us to get it back into place and be able to straighten the leg is: sit on floor with knees close to chest, slowly rotate foot toward the other foot (in), while keeping the foot rotated in begin to straighten the leg slowly. Eventually you will get the loud pop and all is back in place. The trick is to learn to relax during the process.

    • Tom says:

      Cant thank you enough for this. Painful knee through xmas day of all days 🙂 after tweaking knee pushing my girl on a swing. Finally came to this thread on boxing day morning. Followed instructions and there was a light couple of thuds and clicks as i straightened the leg. First sat on bathroom floor marvelling at how i could straighten my knee without pain for the first time in 24 hours. Now standing, again with a straight leg and happy as larry. Thank you. My issue i gather from a recent mri is a torn medial meniscus

  5. Paul says:

    Hi just found this site in desperation . I’m on holiday in Greece with my family and my knee has locked and don’t know what to do!! It’s happened before but not this long . I’ve had ACL surgery on this knee so maybe it’s a Result of that. Any advice would be gratefully received !! Kids ain’t happy lol

  6. Charlie Hicks says:

    Thanks for the site. I have this problem.

    Could the moderator start a thread specifically for people to state how they unlock their knees? That is what I am looking for and some if it is here but mixed in with the general conversation about the problem.

    • admin says:

      Hi Charlie. Good suggestion! I’ve updated the title of this section as “Resources & Tips for Knee Lock Sufferers” and revised the first paragraph to include tips for unlocking the knee. There are also a number of unlocking tips in the comments under the article “My Story.”

  7. Kayla says:

    So question? How do I know if I have a meniscus tear or tibular subluxation? I got an MRI done and the reading said I had “signs of a tear” but they couldn’t tell me if I actually had one. I also feel like there’s like a bone mass in the way when my knee locks and it’s SO PAINFUL & I hear a pop noise when I unlock it. Also the pain is mostly in the back/side of the lower part of the knee I doubt it’s a meniscus tear and think it’s what you have. I just hope there’s a solution, because I never know when my knee will lock! It’ll happen at the weirdest times like getting out of bed or doing a little pivot…

    • admin says:

      Kayla, suggest you make your doctor aware of the medical papers on this site. You might even want to print them out and bring them to your doc. Seems like many MDs/orthos were not taught “Tib-Fib Instability” in medical school, and immediately associate “knee lock” with “torn meniscus surgery” which is among the top 10 “most unnecessary medical treatments” of modern medicine. Suggest you also seek 2nd and 3rd opinion on your MRI from doc’s with experience in Tib-fib Inst.

  8. Jonathan says:

    In my experience, most of the time this is the tibia having excessive forward shift. Sometimes it’s fibular instability. The meniscus tear, if a substantial one exists (because everyone has some level of meniscus deterioration), is generally superfluous. I’ve been working on these for years, and didn’t realize such a dearth of helpful information existed.

  9. Thorne says:

    So anyone found a way to fix it yet or nah? I want mine fixed, going on ten years having this problem. Definitely dims the quality of life….

    • admin says:

      Thorne, a number of knee-lock-related resources are listed here. Also, if you read through the comment thread in the “My Story” page, there are a number of interesting techniques described by scores of knee lock sufferers. If you discover anything new, please let us know. We will add it to the Resources page.

  10. Rhonda says:

    Thank you for posting. I too suffer from this condition. Had no idea what was causing my tibia to pop out of joint and lock up too. Now I know. Sometimes I have to really work at it in order to pop it back in. The tumping sound goes along with it. Can be extremely painful when it pops out and is tender afterward.

  11. Elaine says:

    I exercise a lot and about three months ago while in the gym my right knee wouldn’t straighten and my trainer told me to massage the area. I did this and it definitely ‘popped” back in after a few minutes. This then happened quite a few more times and I eventually had an MRI which suggested a possible meniscus tear, but couldn’t confirm it!! The orthopaedic surgeon recommended physio. I’ve recently been to a rehab specialist who told me I had ‘fibular head subluxation’ which all made sense. He said deep massage and strengthening of the muscles would help which I am undergoing. Fortunately I do not experience excessive pain when this happens, it’s more the discomfort and worry of trying to pop the fibular head back in and hope it does go in – so far so good. Glad to read that I’m not the only person to experience this condition .

  12. Laurie Ellicott says:

    OMG, thank you! This lock first happened when I was maybe 10 year’s old when I either fell or was playing on ice with knees bent and the left one locked and I couldn’t get up for a while, although I don’t recall a lot of pain. It didn’t happen again until ten years later when I think I was squatting to get something under my bed. This time thee was pain when I tried to unbend it so I waited and felt scared enough to call and emergency medical people came and tried their best to stabilize my knee to get me to the hospital. Once at the hospital the doctors promptly took me to X-ray and then despite every nerve in my body screaming NO, they insisted that they manually force my leg straight so they could get a proper X-ray. It was excruciating and surprise, surprise, I didn’t have a broken bone. They didn’t really have a diagnosis, send me home saying it was a pulled muscle and to take it easy for a week. It was quite painful and tender for a week. I wonder if they did more damage then helped. Once I was seeing a sports specialist doctor and described my experiences. He said it was probably torn cartilage that would occasionally hook into a muscle and that was why the pain had happened, that if it got worse they could do surgery. It has happened four times since then, and yes it be challenging, embarrassing and inconvenient. Every time afterwards I would google and got all sorts of information about knee problems, but nothing matched my experience. So, when it happened tonight when I was sitting on a curb with my legs crossed, I googled again and am so relieved to find you describe exactly what I experience. Often happens when I cross the affected knee over the other knee, or with one foot resting on the opposite knee, or one while sitting on a stool with my legs bent back to rest/hook on the sides. The only thing I have been able to tolerate is waiting. It takes between 10-60 minutes for everything to unlock on its own. I keep the locked leg as still as possible, because to move it all feels so bad I gasp. I usually choose to wait a few minutes and then see if I can move it one centimeter towards straight. I used to be a massage therapist and tried work by kneading the area. Kneading the calf can feel nice, but the hamstrings made things hurt more. Tonight was the first time I tried straightening it slightly angled to the outer side, and felt a big ‘ga-gunk’ of something big shifting into place. I was then able to slowly raise myself to standing, but doing my best to keep that leg completely straight so there was no chance it would relock. It tends to be tender afterwards, and I usually avoid more strenuous activity for about a week. Even if this site doesn’t have all the answers, it feels amazing to finally find someone else who has had the same experience, lots of someones; I’m not alone!! I have experienced a condition in my foot, Morton’s neuroma, which was supposed to be permanent, as the only treatment was surgery which didn’t fix the problem, just removed the nerve. Diagnosis was I would never run without pain. By switching to swimming, gentle yoga and being barefoot as much as possible, and only wearing shoes with zero heel lift, my symptoms were gone and I was back running easily within a year, and it has not returned. I reversed one ‘irreversible’ condition before, so I believe I can do the same here. I really appreciate this article, the resources and all the comments. Thank you!!!

  13. John Mitchell says:

    John Mitchell
    I have the same problem since a child. As an adult (possibly as I grew stronger), the problem became almost non existant. Now in my sixties it is back with avengance. Many times it happens in my sleep, I am only aware because I straighten my leg whilst asleep. Then the agony is between a 5 to 10 on the pain scales. If I am lucky I limp with the pain for a few days. Other times I cannot move my leg, without the help of my wife and I am stuck in a chair/sofa for a week.
    Is their any general acceptance that this really exists, by the medical profession? I too was told it was meniscus and had it operated. No change

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.