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Absence of Patella (knee) jerk

immyaliimmyali Posts: 399
Ok, so every doctor I have been to since my accident 3 1/2 years ago has not been able to elicit a reaction from the knee jerk test. You know the one with the hammer on the knee cap.
I'm curious as to what this means. I've found very little information on the causes of this absence other than it's called Westphal sign or erb-westphal sign.
Does anyone else have this problem and what have you been told is the cause?
Any information would be greatly appreciated.


  • Hi Kylie,

    Sorry that you are having this problem 3 1/2 years later still. I have a question for you. Is there anything wrong with your knee? Like is your knee locking, cartilage gone or flaking or any other issues?

    I have a blown right knee and they have problems getting mine to react properly. So I am wondering if you have issues that have not been diagnosed yet? Have you gone to an orthopedic doctor who specializes in knees? I live in Canada so our orthpedic doctors specialize in different areas like spines, shoulders, wrists or knees/hips.

    Just trying to give you other options on what your problem might be. Hope this helps and keep us posted please.

  • I do have early osteoarthritis both knees, i'm actually seeing an ortho this Thursday to go on the list for knee replacements.
    Good idea though, i'll ask him if it's related to the arthritis.
    I just can't find much info online about what causes a lack of knee jerk responses.
    Thanks for responding.
  • I don't know what causes the lack of this reflex action in your case.

    My sister has what they call "Pseudo Guillion Barre syndrome" (They really don't know the exact issue) She will go from being moderately mobile and on her own to bedfast in a matter of days. She has had this since she was about 12. Anyway, not that this has anything with your lack of knee jerk as it surely is not the case or you would have gotten far worse by now.
    She has Zero reflexes, none anywhere.

    I always thought the jerk was a nerve reflex and not related to physical conditon. I guess if you have arthritis it could be pressing on the nerves that cause the jerk reflex, stopping it from happening?
  • This is totally coming from left field, but I have thyroid problems and when I was first diagnosed I had barely any reflexes. Dr. tried to get that knee to react and I just watched in amazement as it did nothing, srtike after strike. Just a thought, when I read your post I remembered that happening. Like I said, its from left field but I did want to mention it just the same.

    Take care, Lisa
  • My case is a bit confusing as 6 months prior to my car accident and back injury I had what I refer to as an "episode" which started as severe sacro-iliac pain, two days later I was leaving work when I noticed my right big toe was numb. The numbness, over a period of 12 hours went from my toe and ascended up my entire body to the top of my head, including the face.
    At abour 11 pm I started getting muscle jerks in my arms, not just little twitches my arms would literally jump, this rapidly progressed to my entire body jerking and twitching, by 3 am I was so freaked out that I went to hospital via ambulance.
    When they checked me out at hospital they were all concerned over my lack of reflexes I remember they kept checking my feet and frowning.
    They sent me via ambulance to our major hospital, I spent a week there having every test known to man and they found NOTHING, nada, zip.
    All the while my SI pain was excruciating and because they couldn't find any cause for my pain, they wouldn't give me any pain meds. After a week I discharge myself after a nasty confrontation with the rudest Resident doctor I have ever had the displeasure of meeting.
    Ever since then I have had difficulty telling temperature, at first I continually burnt myself in the shower because the water felt cold to me so I kept turning up the heat. I overtoasted my kids in the bath a couple of times too, until we learnt that the temperature had to be checked by my husband or my oldest daughter.
    Still have numbness, pins and needles, temperature problems, right leg weakness intermittently (fallen over in funny places, even gave myself a black eye once).
    Anyway this story relates to the original topic because in the report I just got back from a medico-legal doctor it says R knee jerk absent, both ankle jerks absent, arm reflexes subdued, positive sciatic test and positive Miligram's test.
    So I have absolutely no idea what is related to this neurological thing that I don't have and what is related to my L5/S1 problems.
    I have an xray and MRI this Friday so I guess i'll find out then.
    My what a long post, if your still reading this then thanks for listening.
  • Exactly what my sisters symptoms are as we don't actually talk to one another. It's not that we are mad at each other, more a total lack of anything in common, other than parents and relatives...

    Hers is a central nervous system disorder and it flares and then subsides. She was in remission except for the lack of reflexes for about 30 years! Then a year ago it came back full force and they had to transport by ambulance as she is rather "large". I took quite some effort to get her out of her house and she spent ten days in the hospital till they got her walking again. I don't even know what she is taking for it. I guess I'm a lousy brother, but the phones have buttons on both ends of the lines :D

    Guillain–Barré syndrome has a page on wikipedia or you can do a search for it. It does not sound like what you are experiencing as it notes paralysis starting in the legs. You may want to run it past your doctors just to be sure they have ruled it out.
  • Your not a lousy brother, I have 3 brothers and I talk more with their wives than I do them, same thing just not much in common.
    I was tested for GB when I was in hospital and it was negative.
    As I was sitting down watching my hands jump around this morning I started wondering if it was Parkinson's, I don't know, maybe i'll never find out.
    I have my appt with the Orth today to discuss knee replacements and an MRI of my back tomorrow. Wish me luck!
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