At We-Fix-U Physiotherapy, our physiotherapists, chiropractors, and medical advisors answer thousands of inquiries from clients that we can condense into one question: “Why do my knees crack or make a loud pop when I kneel, squat, and bend?” In this explainer, our rehabilitation professionals will detail what causes knee cracking sounds, whether you have a grave condition like a cartilage injury that needs physiotherapy or an orthopedic surgeon, and how to keep your knees in perfect health.
What Is the Cracking Sound I Hear in My Knees?
Your knee is the Swiss knife of your lower body, enabling you to run, walk, stand, jump, bend, and lift in one cohesive free gliding movement. Pain or swelling in the knee and other soft tissue nearby can create a massive inconvenience for anyone, even people who spend most of their day sitting down.
Cracking knees can have various causes and can sometimes compound and make diagnoses difficult. Here are some of the most usual conditions we see in our patients.
Crepitus comes from a Latin word that means rattle, and clinicians use it to describe general crunching noises and cracking sounds in the knee. When most of our patients bend, squat, or flex their legs in any fashion, they usually hear a knee popping. No pain, discomfort, or joint degeneration is medically associated with crepitus, so it’s not something that requires treatment.
Crepitus refers to knee cracks that come from an accumulation of carbon dioxide molecules in the synovial fluid of your knee joint. This fluid connects bones, and when you do exercises or movements, it crams the air molecules from your joints into one spot, causing elbow noises and cracking knees. You don’t have to do an intense workout to experience this.
The meniscus is a rubbery c-shaped disc that acts as a cushion that protects your knees from fall and impact damage. Meniscus tears happen from sudden turns and twists of the knee, usually from certain exercises like lifting heavy objects, deep squatting, and kneeling the wrong way. If you experience knee pain or discomfort in various soft tissues near your knees when your knees crack, you might have a damaged meniscus.
According to the Steadman Philippon Research Institute, acute meniscus damage affects 61 out of every 100,000 people, and in the older population, this condition can be permanent and degenerative.
Senior citizens with compounding ailments such as knee arthritis are more likely to tear their meniscus, sometimes even through seemingly mundane activities. They comprise the majority of candidates for knee replacement because of it.
If you experience pain, swelling, and inflammation in your knee joint, you might have cartilage damage. As people grow old, the cartilage around their knees hardens and sometimes breaks off. If the cracking sound in your knee started after a recent trauma, a piece of loose cartilage might have caught between the femur in the tibia.
If you have osteoarthritis and it hurts when your knee pops, schedule an appointment with a physiotherapist in Oshawa, Peterborough, Bowmanville, Port Hope, and Cobourg to discover how to live with less pain without an invasive procedure.