When To See A Doctor
If you have any pain along with these symptoms, have a doctor look at your knee as soon as possible. Doing so may prevent a more serious knee injury including anterior cruciate ligament injuries. They affect between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans each year.
Even if the knee popping isn’t painful, you may still want to have it checked out. In some cases, it may be an early warning sign of an overuse injury. This may require weight loss, a change of footwear, or knee-strengthening exercises to protect the joint.
The best treatments are targeted directly at the specific problem that is causing the abnormal popping or snapping inside the knee joint. You can ease crepitus and tendon problems with treatments to reduce inflammation in the knee joint, such as rest and anti-inflammatory medications.
Most mechanical problems are best treated with arthroscopic knee surgery. This is a procedure in which a camera and tools are passed through small incisions into the joint to repair any damage.
What Causes That Knee
As mentioned earlier, most causes of knee clicking are no cause for concern. Here are some of the reasons why your knees might pop and click while you walk up or down stairs, squat to pick something up, or when you extend your leg.
Cartilage rubbing: There are a number of pieces to your knee joint that are required to keep it healthy and protect it, one of which is cartilage. Cartilage is tissue that lines and protects the bone, but over time this cartilage can grow unevenly. When you bend your knee, the cartilage rubs together and if its uneven, it can result in a popping or cracking sound. This becomes more common with age, but is no cause for concern.
Ligament tightening: Your bones are connected by ligaments, and they lengthen and shorten as you move. Sometimes the ligaments can tighten, but not so much that they are at risk for injurythis can result in pops and cracks.
Synovial fluid: With all the moving parts that make up your joints, there is a lot of rubbing together. And although the feeling of raw bone-on-bone friction can be extremely painful, this is not the case when the joint is intact with strong ligaments and cartilage. The smooth glide between ligaments is aided by synovial fluid. Synovial fluid protects bones from rubbing together and is made of carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen. When you stretch or bend, these gases can escape the joint, resulting in a popping or cracking sound. Once again, this is no cause for concern.
Your Knee Is Clicking Or Popping
Whether your knee is clicking, locking, or popping, these are all indications that something is not quite right. In some cases, popping may be an indication of a ligament injury such as an anterior cruciate ligament , posterior cruciate ligament , or medial collateral ligament tear. Knee ligament injuries are common sports injuries, but can also occur from high-energy accidents. In addition to popping or clicking, symptoms often include:
- Sudden, severe pain in the knee
- Pain that persists while walking
- The knee abruptly giving out, causing you to fall and feel unstable while walking
- Swelling within 24 hours after the initial injury
Another reason your knee may be popping is because of a meniscus tear. This can often occur along with a knee ligament injury and occurs when the medial meniscus tears. Similar to ACL, PCL, or MCL tears, a meniscus tear occurs from a single, sudden movement such as sports injuries or twisting suddenly. In addition to popping, other symptoms include:
- Knee pain
- Initial pain and discomfort but still able to walk
- Worsening pain and stiffness
- Deformity and weakness
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Your Knee Is Locked And You Cant Straighten It
If you had a knee injury and you are not able to fully straighten the leg, you might have a locked knee. A locked knee is simply a knee that cannot fully straighten. There are different reasons a locked knee might occur. In some patients, swelling and inflammation can prevent you from fully straightening the knee. In others, a meniscus tear has flipped into the middle of the joint and is causing mechanical locking. You cannot straighten it with the meniscus in that position.
Many athletes who have a locked knee will also find it very painful to bend the knee too. They may feel sharp knee pain when bending which can occur when these bucket handle meniscus tears move.
The most common cause of a locked knee is a unique meniscus tear called a bucket handle tear. A bucket handle tear is considered a serious knee injury and will require surgery to fix or repair the tear. The reason these tears are serious is that a large piece of the meniscus tears flips over and becomes stuck in the middle of the knee joint. You need that meniscus to protect the knee. The vast majority of bucket-handle tears can be repaired. So the sooner we start the treatment process, the better the outcome might be after a meniscus repair.
What Causes A Clicking Sound In The Knee
The knee joints can be noisy. Knee clicking, popping, or crunching sounds are common and typically no cause for concern. Theyre often the result of soft tissue stretching over the joint or bony protrusions.
But if you experience knee clicking with pain or swelling, it may indicate a serious injury or osteoarthritis.
Your knee joint sits where the femur , tibia , and a protective shield called the patella meet. Since the knee bears most of your body weight, its cartilage, ligaments, and tendons are especially vulnerable to everyday wear and tear.
Two pieces of cartilage act as shock absorbers, providing a cushion between the femur and tibia bones. These are the menisci.
Other essential parts of the knee include the articular cartilage, the collateral and cruciate ligaments, and the quadriceps and patellar tendons.
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Whats The Outlook For Teenagers With Pain In Their Knees
Most knee pain in teenagers can be managed with simple treatments. However, many soft-tissue tears and bone breaks require surgery. Most teenagers recover without long-term problems if they follow the recover plan provided by their healthcare providers. Because there are many causes of knee pain, be sure to ask your healthcare provider for specific information on long-term prognosis for your teens knee condition.
Crepitus And The Crackling Sounds In Your Joints
Crepitus is the abnormal popping or crackling sound in either a joint or the lungs, which may be faint or loud enough for people to hear. It is often accompanied by a popping or crunching sensation that may sometimes be uncomfortable or painful.
Crepitus in the joints is typically related to joint damage. Crepitus in the lungs is caused when collapsed or fluid-filled air sacs abruptly open upon inspiration.
Crepitus is not so much a condition but rather a descriptive characteristic that healthcare providers use to pinpoint the source of the problem. The term “crepitus” is derived from the Latin for “rattling” or “creaking.”
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Common Causes Of Pain Behind The Knee
Sometimes pain behind the knee is simply due to muscle strains. These injuries usually heal in a matter of days. However, this is only one possibility. There can also be pain behind the knee as a result of systemic diseases or some life-threatening conditions. Below we take a look at just what the different potential causes are.
Knee Popping By Activity
Knee Popping and Pain When Bending: If you get knee popping and pain when bending your knee e.g. squatting down, it is most likely due to a problem with the knee cartilage such as a meniscus tear or chondromalacia patella.
Knee Popping When Extending And Bending: If you get knee pain and popping with both knee flexion and extension, it is likely that there is damage to the joint surface such as cartilage damage or knee arthritis. If there is no pain, it is likely to be gas bubbles popping.
Knee Popping With Twisting: Sudden knee pain and popping when you twist is usually doe to a knee ligament injury, most often an ACL injury and/or MCL tear. If the knee swells up or feels unstable after hearing a pop as you twisted, seek medical attention immediately.
Knee Popping When Walking: Almost all the possible causes of knee popping that we’ve looked at here can cause knee pain and popping when walking, be it arthritis, runners knee, cartilage tear or ligament injury. There will usually be other symptoms associated here that will lead to a clearer knee pain diagnosis.
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Knee Pain And Popping
Reviewed by: KPE Medical Review Board
Knee pain and popping is a common problem. It’s that tell-tale snap, crackle, pop making your knees sound like a bowl of rice krispies.
Many people find they hear strange noises such as knee clicking when they do things such a squatting down or getting up from kneeling.
In many cases, it is more of a nuisance than a real problem, but in some cases, it may be a sign of an underlying problem in the knee.
Knee popping in itself is very common and can be caused by a number of things. It may be as simple as little bubbles of gas popping in the knee or indicate a problem in the soft tissues such as a ligament tear.
Another term commonly used for popping in the knee is “crepitus”, which essentially means a noisy joint, whether it be popping, clicking, cracking or snapping.
Here we look at the most common causes of knee pain and popping and how to treat them.
Final Thoughts On Knee Clicking Sounds
The sound of your knee clicking, cracking, or popping can be a noisy yet benign inconvenience. But it can also signal severe damage in the form of tears, osteoarthritis, or displacement of the kneecap.
Knee clicking with pain is abnormal and warrants a visit to the doctors office. Swelling and buckling of the knee are also causes for concern.
You can protect your knee against chronic pain and temporary injuries by strengthening the joint, as well as the surrounding muscles. Squats, myofascial release, and IT band stretches can be particularly effective.
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Learn What Conditions Cause A Knee Pop And How To Treat Them
Hearing a pop in the knee can be alarming, especially if you notice swelling or pain directly following. Similarly, a pop in the knee with no swelling afterwards may cause you confusion and make you wonder if you need to be concerned at all. While this mysterious noise might be nothing to worry about, taking measures to treat the possible injury will hinder its progression.
The knee specialists at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute have diagnosed and treated plenty of knee pops during their time in the field of orthopaedics. We understand that the uncertainty of this symptom can cause patients stress. For this reason, we want to keep our patients as informed as possible by providing clear communication, expert advice, and the most advanced methods of treatment.
Common Symptoms Of Knee Pain
There are several signs that normally accompany knee pain. These include redness and swelling, inability to extend the knee, locking of the knee, and limping. Depending on the nature of the problem, the condition may be characterized by grinding, aching, or popping.
Below are three symptoms and what they actually mean:
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Why Do My Knees Pop
It happens to us all: You stand up after sitting for a while and you hear a loud “pop.” Why do knees do that? Is it bad?
Here are the short answers: 1) crepitus and 2) probably not, but possibly yes. Read on to find out why this happens, and when it’s worth worrying about.
Popping knees can be alarming, but are usually not a cause for concern.Crepitus in the Knee
Arthritis Symptoms Associated Knee Crepitus
Crepitus caused by knee arthritis is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
- Pain while walking or bending the knee
- Knee stiffness that improves with gentle stretching or exercise
- Knee tenderness or soreness, most commonly on the inside of the knee
- Occasional swelling of the knee
Many things can cause the creaking or crunching sensation while flexing and extending the knee. A doctor can conduct a clinical exam to determine if knee symptoms are caused by arthritis or another something else, such as patellar motion.
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Common Causes Of Swelling After A Severe Knee Injury Include:
Over 70% of athletes with a swollen knee who felt a pop while running and pivoting will have an ACL tear or a patella dislocation. Patella dislocations are more common than you think. All of you dread an ACL tear. But most of you are surprised when we see you in the office and tell you that your kneecap dislocated. Most dislocated kneecaps will reduce spontaneously on the field. That means that the kneecap will go back into place on its own.
Patellar dislocations may hurt just as much as an ACL tear. Because patella dislocations are such a common sports injury we wrote this post to go into far more detail about them.
With any of the above issues, most of you will find it very difficult to walk without severe knee pain. Crutches, icing, and elevation are beneficial in these cases. These knee joint injuries need to be evaluated for an X-ray. Fractures are rare, but they do occur. Very few knee injuries will require a brace unless you want to use it for comfort. The most important reason for seeing a sports medicine physician after an injury that causes swelling is to look for these most common severe injuries.
Many of these severe knee joint injuries should be evaluated sooner rather than later. The initial treatment will be a reliable examination to arrive at a diagnosis, which will be followed with an MRI to confirm the diagnosis. Depending on what we think you injured, we may consider rest, physical therapy, or surgery.
Who Is At Risk For Injuries Related To Knee Instability
Risk factors for injuries related to knee weakness include:
- Engaging in sports, especially football, lacrosse, basketball, or skiing
- Ignoring knee pain: Pain is your bodys sign something is wrong. If you let it persist unchecked, you could be allowing its cause to worsen.
- History of torn ligament surgery
Complications of weak knees may include:
- Recurrent falls
- Lack of confidence with balance
- Feeling scared or nervous about future falls
- Injuries because of falls
You should see your healthcare provider if you are experiencing the sensation of your knee giving out.
Seek immediate medical care if your knee gives out and you experience severe pain, significant swelling, or a fever.
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How Do I Stop My Knees From Popping
This depends on the cause of popping.
Try these ideas if the knee crack didnt start during or after a trauma, and theres no pain associated with it:
- Change the position of your feet, or bend a little more your hips. This could reduce the popping if it comes from rubbing tissues or the stick-slip phenomenon described above.
- Strengthen your legs, preferably under the guidance of a personal trainer.
- Walk more throughout your day.
For some people, the popping doesnt go away no matter what they try. If its painless, this should be normal.
However, knee pops can also be linked to a number of pathologies. These noises will stop when you manage the underlying cause.
What Causes Kneecap Clicking
There are 2 main reasons for getting kneecap noises its either from bubbles of gas popping or the kneecap not tracking in the knee joint groove properly.
Gas Bubbles: Sometimes tiny air bubbles build up within the fluid inside your joints. These bubbles make a noise when they burst during joint movement. The gas gets pushed through a very narrow joint space making a noise By the way its a Myth youll get arthritis from clicking your knuckles!!!
Kneecap tracking: anatomy wiseYour kneecap is held in place on top of the knee joint by muscles, tendons and ligaments. If these soft tissues get tighter on 1 side of the knee more than the other, the kneecap can get pulled out of alignment slightly as you move, creating a noise.
Both of these 2 causes are fairly normal and occur in everybody every single day.
Kneecap clicking is not often painful and people are used to living with it for years. Hearing unusual noises from the knee can worry people, as you fear the worst when you cant see whats going on inside. Dont panic! Noise doesnt always mean damage.
We do know that Kneecap clicking/crepitus is more common in women than men. This is possibly due to the biomechanics of women having a wider pelvis , and theres also hormonal differences in women that can increase soft tissue laxity Some people are also born with shallow grooves under their kneecaps too which mean the kneecap hasnt got a deep groove to sit in either?
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