The most common questions I get involve people looking for an injury diagnosis. Accurate diagnosis of an injury and its severity over the internet is not realistic, however here are some guidelines that may help:

** Regarding medical advice it is always best to see a medical professional (PT, MD, DC, ATC etc…) in person. Proper assessment is the key to successful rehabilitation.

Common knee complaints:

1️⃣ Knee feels loose and unstable: Potentially a ligament sprain or tear. Some ligaments have a better healing/recovery ability than others.

  • ACL: ACLs tears do not heal, which is why surgery is often needed. Depending on the looseness/laxity of the knee and the dynamic stability some people may be able to return to training without surgery (33% are copers). Best option is to talk to a surgeon, get imaging, get assessed by a rehab specialist.
  • MCL: This ligament has the best ability to heal and often does well with rehab.
  • LCL: Mild to moderate sprains may respond to conservative treatment but severe/complete tears often require surgery.
  • PCL: “The majority of subjects treated non­operatively can expect to return to activity at the same or similar level.” (Logerstedt 2010).

2️⃣ Knee is catching or locking: Potentially a meniscus tear. Generally, meniscus injuries respond well to conservative treatment and outcomes are on par surgery (Herrlin 2007). However catching and locking symptoms may require surgery if they are consistent and persistent.

3️⃣ Knee is stiff and tight: Possibly due to swelling, tissue restriction or muscle guarding to prevent further injury.

4️⃣ Knee is painful with movement: Often pain with active muscle activation and resistance is related to muscle and may be a muscle strain.

5️⃣ Knee is burning, tingling or shocking: This may be due to a nerve entrapment or back pain referring to the leg.

Best course of action is to get properly assessed so you can start to rehab properly and efficiently.

Dr. Mike Piekarski, DPT
BJJ Brown Belt
Former MMA Fighter

Logerstedt, D. S., Snyder-Mackler, L., Ritter, R. C., Axe, M. J., & Godges, J. J. (2010). Knee stability and movement coordination impairments: knee ligament sprain: clinical practice guidelines linked to the international classification of functioning, disability, and health from the Orthopaedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 40(4), A1-A37.
Herrlin, S., Hållander, M., Wange, P., Weidenhielm, L., & Werner, S. (2007). Arthroscopic or conservative treatment of degenerative medial meniscal tears: a prospective randomised trial. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy, 15(4), 393-401.