Self Test for Loose Knee Ligaments Can Help Prevent Arthritis

By Chris Centeno, MD /

Receive a Regenexx® Patient Info Packet by email and learn why it's a superior regenerative solution.

Is there a way to tell if you have loose knee ligaments, and if one of your ligaments is loose, do you really need to do anything about it? Yes and yes. We often see patients with loose knee ligaments, and many times they don’t even realize it. Or perhaps they are aware of it, but a doctor has told them it’s nothing to be concerned about—it’s not damaged enough to need surgical intervention. While it’s a good thing no surgical steps have been taken, loose knee ligaments are a red flag that something must be done now to correct the resulting knee joint instability…before it leads to knee arthritis. Performing a knee tibial rotation test can help you prevent arthritis by allowing you to address loose ligaments now before they cause bigger problems.

Before I explain the test, let’s look at the ligaments in the knee.

The Four Knee Ligaments and How They Work

Each joint from your spine to your foot rotates. Your pelvis rotates, your thigh rotates, your knee rotates, and your ankle rotates. The long upper-leg bone is the femur. The femur connects at the hip joint on the top and the knee joint on the bottom. There are two lower-leg bones that connect at the knee joint on the top and the ankle joint on the bottom—the fibula (the smaller one) and the tibia (the larger one). When you rotate your leg, all of these structures work together along with your ligaments, which connect your upper-leg bone to your lower-leg bones.

The four ligaments of the knee are the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The ACL and PCL live in the middle of the knee joint and provide front and back stability to the knee. The MCL and LCL live on either side of the knee joint and provide side-to-side stability to the knee. Ligament injuries can occur, and torn ACLs, for example, are common in athletes. Just last month, I blogged about ACL tears and how reconstructive surgery doesn’t prevent arthritis. Today, however, we just want to look at knee ligament laxity (or looseness) and emphasize the importance of addressing it before it leads to arthritis.

So how can you tell if you have a loose knee ligament? The knee tibial rotation test, and, yes, you can do this at home.

The Knee Tibial Rotation Test

First, watch the video at the top of this post for a demonstration of how to do the test. You will need a short stool that rotates. Your focus is going to be on tibial rotation, or how your tibia (larger lower-leg bone) rotates on your femur (your upper-leg bone) at the knee joint where those ligaments live.

  1. Sit with your right foot planted firmly on the rotating stool (your left foot is on the ground).
  2. Make sure your right knee is flexed at 90 degrees. Adjust your setup accordingly.
  3. Rotate your right foot inward (using the natural rotation of the stool) and note the distance of the rotation.
  4. Follow steps 1–3, now using your left foot, and note the distance of the rotation.

Is there a difference in how far each foot is able to rotate, or are they pretty equal? If you aren’t sure, you may need to video each and compare, like I did in the video above. If one rotates farther than the other, what’s causing that? For example, in the video, my left foot rotates more than my right foot, meaning my left tibia is rotating farther than my right tibia at my knee joints. Well, the cause is really the laxity in the ligaments in my left knee.

Should I Be Concerned with My Loose Knee Ligaments?

I’m not really feeling any major pain, but what will happen if I leave it this way? I can get knee arthritis. So whether I’m already feeling knee pain due to that loose ligament or not, I should certainly be concerned and address it ASAP. These loose ligaments will also impact my hip and ankle. In my case, to get this fixed, I’m going to have my partners do precise guided injections of my own platelets into the ligaments to help tighten them up and restabilize the knee.

The upshot? Knee joint instability, even in small amounts, can lead to arthritis. When this instability is caused by loose knee ligaments, you can prevent knee arthritis before it sets in by having those ligaments tightened. You may not even know you have a loose knee ligament, but a simple knee tibial rotation test can help you find out. Get out a rotating stool, and measure your tibial rotation. If your test shows one tibia rotates more than the other, it’s a good idea to follow up with an exam to have your knee stability checked and then look into precise injections to tighten those ligaments and prevent knee arthritis down the road.

Leave a Reply

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

6 thoughts on “Self Test for Loose Knee Ligaments Can Help Prevent Arthritis

  1. Joseph camporeale

    Does this hold true for the hip?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Joseph,

      This particular test is specifically to identify loose knee ligaments. However both of our free e-books Orthopedics 2.0 and ProActive have self tests to identify issues for all body areas. Please see: http://www.regenexx.com/library-complimentary-regenexx-resources/

  2. Jim L.

    Great self diagnosis. Thanks. I’m definitely coming to a your clinic the next time I’m in the States.

    Jim

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Thanks Jim! Look forward to it.

  3. Robert

    Chris,
    If I have lax ligaments which can cause an issue in the future, don’t live in America and have access to this type of treatment in my country is there anything I can do to help improve tightness in these ligaments? Thanks for your time.

    Robert.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Robert,
      Yes. Precise image guided injections of your own platelets and and in more severe cases stem cells. The issue is finding a Physician who has the ability to directly inject the tendon to be treated. http://www.regenexx.com/helping-acl-stem-cells-requires-direct-injection-ligament/ For superficial areas prolotherapy can be a first line of defense option.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
View Profile

Get Blog Updates by Email

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
Select Your Problem Area
Shoulder

Shoulder

Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

  • Rotator Cuff Tears and Tendinitis
  • Shoulder Instability
  • SLAP Tear / Labral Tears
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Other Degenerative Conditions & Overuse Injuries
Learn More
Cervical Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Knee

Knees

Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

  • Knee Meniscus Tears
  • Knee ACL Tears
  • Knee Instability
  • Knee Osteoarthritis
  • Other Knee Ligaments / Tendons & Overuse Injuries
  • And more
Learn More
Lower Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Hand & Wrist

Hand & Wrist

Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Hand and Wrist Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Thumb Arthritis (Basal Joint, CMC, Gamer’s Thumb, Texting Thumb)
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More
Elbow

Elbow

Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

  • Golfer’s elbow & Tennis elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Ulnar collateral ligament wear (common in baseball pitchers)
  • And more
Learn More
Hip

Hip

Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

  • Labral Tear
  • Hip Arthritis
  • Hip Bursitis
  • Hip Sprain, Tendonitis or Inflammation
  • Hip Instability
Learn More
Foot & Ankle

Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Ankle Arthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Ligament sprains or tears
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More

Is Regenexx Right For You?

Request a free Regenexx Info Packet

REGENEXX WEBINARS

Learn about the #1 Stem Cell & Platelet Procedures for treating arthritis, common joint injuries & spine pain.

Join a Webinar

RECEIVE BLOG ARTICLES BY EMAIL

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to the Blog

FOLLOW US

Copyright © Regenexx 2019. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy

*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.

LinkedIn
Email