Do your kneecaps feel loose? This might be because of a lot of reasons, like ligament injury of knee, chondromalacia, arthritis, interarticular effusion, rheumatism, and many other causes.

Feeling of kneecap being loose is a very common complaint encountered in the medical field, and is very common for you to experience it.

Kneecap is a covering over your actual knee joint, and is known as Patella. Because our knee joint holds all our weight, there is a greater risk of it being injured.

Patella or kneecap is put in place as such that it is held by ligaments and tendons to make the movement easier. In case of any injury to the knee, tendons, or the ligaments, the kneecap will not have a smooth movement, and you may have what you would describe as “kneecaps feel loose”.

Knee instability, in addition to pain and discomfort, increases your risk of falling. This makes it very important for you to take this condition seriously so as to save yourself from the pain, and the other risks it comes with.

This feeling can be caused by a number of things, including ligament related issues, infections, arthritis, or direct injury to the area.

In this article we will discuss about:


The symptoms

Ligament causes

Non-ligament causes

Knee Osteoarthritis

Patellofemoral pain syndrome

Patellar Subluxation

Patellar Fracture

Who is at a risk?

When to see a doctor?







When your kneecaps feel loose you may experience these things:

  • Pain, especially when you move, work, or change positions.
  • Swelling around your knee.
  • Stiffness around your knee joint.
  • Sensation of your knee joint being locked.




Our kneecap or Patella is held by a number of ropes like structures in place. From above it is connected to the tendon of Quadriceps muscles, and from below it is connected to the tibia by a ligament known as Patellar Ligament.  If there is any injury to the said ligament or the tendon itself, your kneecap might get dislocated, and your kneecaps feel loose.

Apart from the kneecap, knee itself is held in place by four ligaments:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament.
  • Posterior cruciate ligament.
  • Medial collateral ligament.
  • Lateral collateral ligament.

These ligaments are injured when, for example, you twist your knees too much. Athletes, footballers, or other sports persons are at a risk of injuring their kneecaps, or knees, after what your kneecaps feel loose. Apart from this, if you experience a sudden trauma, be it an accident, or during a game, your ligaments might be injured and your kneecaps feel loose.

In case of any injury to the ligament, you may experience these symptoms:

  • Popping knees.
  • Pain might or might not be present.
  • Swelling.
  • Sudden feeling of weakness in your legs or leg buckling when you stand or work.

Visit a doctor to get a proper diagnosis. Your doctor will take a proper medical history, and request for some imaging exams.

Based on the severity of your condition doctor may recommend rest, ice packs, pain medication, and physical therapy. In case of severe injury, you may have to undergo surgery.

Mild injury usually gets better within a month, but it might take long in case your injury is severe and you need surgery.



Apart from non-ligament causes, there are many other factors that contribute to kneecap injury, or the ligaments supporting it. Some of them are overuse of the knee joint in case of doing activities that pressurize the knee joint or the kneecaps. Other than this, there might be inflammation of the tendons around, or you may be suffering from rheumatologic disorders.

Based on your symptoms, your doctor will diagnose the condition, and treat you accordingly.



Our joints are covered by a slippery material called cartilage that protects them from rubbing off each other, and help them function well. In knee osteoarthritis, this cartilage degenerates, and your kneecaps feel loose.

Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis:

  • Knee pain.
  • Swelling around knee joint.
  • Kneecaps feel loose.
  • Tenderness when the area is touched.
  • Popping of knee joint, because of friction.

There are some factors that may increase your risk of getting osteoarthritis:

  • Old age.
  • Obesity.
  • Injuries to knee, or any other joint.
  • Constant stress on the joint.

This condition often causes chronic pain, which doesn’t go away with home-remedies. This condition may require you to visit a doctor.

Your doctor may recommend you to lose weight if you are overweight, suggest you some exercises, prescribe pain relievers and other drugs, or surgery if needed.



This condition is also known as “runner’s knee”, as it more commonly seen in people who are athletic and participate in running.

Apart from people being involved in sports, it is also seen in people who overwork, and put extra stress on their joints.  

It causes dull pain, usually in front of the kneecap.


  • Pain when working.
  • Pain while climbing the stairs, running, jumping.
  • Kneecaps feel loose.
  • Popping sound of knees.

Because this condition is caused by overworking of the joint, taking rest might help. You can also take pain relievers, or get a massage.

In case of severe pain, or constant pain that doesn’t go away, you should visit a doctor. Your doctor may ask you to do some tests, and take a history to diagnose your condition.



It is the outward or lateral movement of the kneecap, and occurs mostly because of an indirect injury or trauma.

Dancers, gymnasts, or runners might be at a risk of twisting their knees.


  • Kneecaps feel loose, of knee instability.
  • Tenderness to touch.
  • Swelling.
  • Severe, sharp pain.
  • Cracking of knee on movement.
  • Discomfort and pain with activity.

Your doctor will thoroughly check your knee, examine it, and run X-rays or MRIs to check for the problem.

Based on the severity of the condition, you will be given a treatment plan. Sometimes nonsurgical treatment is enough for you to feel better, and may include:

  • RICE- rest, icing, compression, elevation.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Exercise.
  • Brace to stabilize the knee.
  • Medical footwear.
  • Support to walk, so as to minimise the stress.

In case the dislocation is severe, surgery would be recommended by your doctor to pull your kneecap in place.



This happens because of a direct trauma to the kneecap, in case of an accident or a fall, or while playing any sport.

Symptoms include:

  • Severe pain around knee joint.
  • Swelling.
  • Kneecaps feel loose.
  • Tenderness on touch.
  • Pain while working, or moving your leg.

Fractures are always an emergency, and surgery is recommended in cause of a fracture.

If it’s not treated well, it can cause other complications like infections, pain, or arthritis.



If your kneecaps feel loose, it might be because of high stress being put on your kneecaps. But apart from that, as already mentioned, injuries and other causes contribute to this feeling as well.

 If you are one of these you might be at a higher risk of a condition where your kneecaps feel loose:

  • Overweight.
  • Footballer, or basketball player.
  • Dancer.
  • Labourers.



See a doctor whenever your knee instability or the knee pain starts to interfere with your daily activities.

Some symptoms that you must take care of, and focus on are:

  • Kneecaps feel loose.
  • Constant pain.
  • Problem in doing daily chores.
  • Interference in daily activities.
  • Severe cracking or popping of knee joint.
  • Sudden increase in pain or swelling.

In case of a trauma or an injury, if you feel sudden and sharp pain, call emergency.



The doctor starts by taking a proper history. After a history, you’ll have to undergo a thorough physical examination. Your doctor will out your knee in different positions to see where does the problem actually lie. You’ll have to walk, sit, change positions (stand after sitting, sit after standing) for your doctor to better understand what the problem is.

Apart from this, your doctor may also ask for X-ray or MRI to detect the damage or the injury that is causing you pain, and because of what your kneecaps feel loose.



Home remedies might suffice for people who have minimal damage, and pain. You can try these things at home to see if any of them helps:

  • Rest.
  • Decrease the level of activity, or abstain from a certain work that increases this feeling or the pain.
  • Weight loss, or maintaining ideal weight.
  • Proper, medically fit, footwear.
  • Over-the-counter pain killers.
  • Stretching exercises.

If you must visit the doctor, they might recommend physical therapy, and surgery in some cases.

Surgery is needed in case your ligament is injured, or torn. Surgery in this case helps stabilize your kneecaps, so your kneecaps don’t feel loose.



If your kneecaps feel loose, it might be an uncomfortable condition, and might be accompanied with pain. It is always better to consult a doctor for you knee pain, or the feeling of kneecap instability. You can always try home-remedies, but it is better to see a doctor if your pain doesn’t go away and you kneecaps continue to feel loose.

In case your doctor suggests you to undergo surgery, always ask questions to relieve yourself of the anxiety, and choose a better plan for yourself taking in view what the doctor recommends.


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Phone: +1(647)303 0740

All Rights Reserved © By MarsoClinic

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