Hearing noise from your knees can be unnerving. After dropping your pen and squatting to collect it, you’re met with a chorus of crackles and pops, then stares from surprised onlookers. Are you falling apart? Do the noises alone indicate damage, disease, or an impending joint replacement surgery? Not necessarily.
Why would healthy knees make noise?
Noise from the knees, or crepitus, is extremely common. As we age and our knee joints experience some wear, cartilage, or the tissue that covers the boney surfaces, can develop uneven areas. When we squat or stand, sounds come from these rougher surfaces gliding across each other. It could also be the rope like tissues that connect bones to other bones, the ligaments, tightening as you move, or something as simple as gas bubbles popping in your joints.
Noisy “Neutral” Knees
As a rule, if your knees pop, crunch and crack, but you don’t have any symptoms aside from noise, then it’s unlikely that you have a major problem in the joint.
“A lot of joints crack and the knees are a really common joint to crack,” says David McAllister, MD, director of the UCLA's Sports Medicine Program. “Most people have knees that crack when they squat down. We generally don’t worry about cracking or popping when it isn’t associated with pain or swelling.”
Noisy “Painful” Knees
If there is knee pain or swelling along with noise from the knees, you may have signs of structural damage or disease activity building within or around the joint, and it’s time to seek professional treatment. Potential issues include:
- Meniscus tears. The meniscus is a rubbery C-shaped disc that cushions the knee joint and acts as a shock absorber. It also helps spread weight evenly so your bones don’t rub together. Meniscus tears are often caused by sudden twisting or other things you might do while playing sports. According to Dr. Michael Stuart, a professor of orthopedic surgery and co-director of sports medicine at the Mayo Clinic, “If you have a meniscus tear, that can cause these mechanical symptoms like catching or locking of the knees.”
- Cartilage injury or wear. Sometimes the cartilage covering our bones can be injured, even causing a piece to break off and catch in our joint. Usually, the knee will respond to this type of injury by swelling or catching during motion. Cartilage in your knee can also wear thin or break down. Some people say they feel a grinding sensation when they move, like a “bone on bone sensation.” Untreated knee pain will only worsen and can cause more damage to the joint in the future.
Are Your Noisy Knees Complaining about Pain or Swelling?
Cracking and popping noises from the knees are typical, but when the sounds are accompanied by knee pain or swelling, it’s time to seek professional assistance. Flexogenix offers safe and effective results and our innovative Knee-Flex 5-Step Program can keep you in an active lifestyle. Contact us today for your free consultation!