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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

Why Does My Knee Keep Cracking and Making Scary Sounds?

The human knee is a complex body part which, on occasions, can make popping or crunching noises. These noises are not necessarily a sign of trouble, but they can be and that is why it is important to learn about them.

The noises that you hear are called Crepitus. Crepitus is defined as the sound which is caused by the rubbing together of bone and cartilage. This grinding sensation results in the creation of noises.

Anatomy of the Knee

The knee joint is the junction of three bones: The thigh bone, the shin bone, and the kneecap. These bones are also linked to two types of cartilages: The articular cartilage and the meniscus cartilage. 

This complex structure constantly moves and, in some cases, causes friction among the various parts. This friction results in crepitus. 

When Should You See a Doctor?

Crepitus noises are common, and their frequency is higher in older individuals. The noises are not considered a cause of concern unless they present along with other symptoms.  If you have any of the following symptoms, then you should seek medical help.

  1. Pain

  2. Redness

  3. Swelling

  4. Difficulty in movement 

  5. Numbness

  6. Stiffness

If any of these symptoms persist, it could be a sign of an underlying condition. The underlying conditions can be:

Meniscus Tear

The thigh bone and shin bone are split by a thin C-shaped rubbery cartilage called the meniscus. A condition in which tissues in the meniscus tear is called a meniscus tear. 

It is caused by forceful twisting of the knee.

Cartilage Injury

Sometimes the application of force on the knee joint can result in damage to the cartilage. This damage can result in pieces of cartilage breaking off as well. 


Arthritis is a group of over 200 disorders that are characterized by inflammation of the joints. It is a very common disease and one of its symptoms is various sounds in the knee. The most common types of arthritis which can cause crepitus are:

  1. Osteoarthritis

  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis


The treatment of all these conditions is similar and involves the following:

  1. Selfcare: Selfcare is one of the most important aspects of treating these conditions. The self-care regimen should be rest, icing, compression, and rehabilitation exercises


  1. Therapy: Different forms of workouts and physical therapies are helpful. These focus on increasing the strength of the affected part overtime.

  2. Medication: Two types of medications are used. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID’s) and Analgesics. Examples include Aceclofenac and Diclofenac for NSAID’s and Paracetamol for analgesics.

  3. Surgery: In extreme cases, surgical procedures are required to fix the damage to the knee. Arthroscopy is the surgical procedure used to treat meniscus tear.

  4. Physiotherapy: Physiotherapy is a very helpful tool in the treatment of knee problems. It involves the use of various techniques which help in the rehabilitation of the knee and are also used to reduce the pain.

Credits: Pixabay Caption: Physiotherapy is a very successful form of treatment for knee disorders.

How to keep your knees healthy?

Paying attention to the health of your knees can significantly decrease the chances of developing knee problems. The following practices can help

  1. Building Strength through Exercise: Exercise plays a vital role in your overall health. Specialized exercises that increase the strength of the knee muscles are a must and should be a part of your workout. Examples of these exercises include squats, weight training and luges.

  2. Stretching: Stretching reduces the risk of developing muscle injuries. Stretching techniques that focus on the thigh muscles help the knees.

Credits: Pixabay Caption: Stretching can reduce the risk of knee problems.

  1. Maintaining the Ideal Weight: People who are overweight have a much higher risk of developing knee disorders. The knees along with other body parts support the weight of the body. The higher the weight the more pressure on the knees while working. Maintaining weight also decreases the risk of other muscle injuries which can affect the knees.

  2. Avoid Overloading of the Joints: Athletes prefer to push their limits when working out, but this can cause an overload on the joints. Working out to the point of exhaustion can cause damage.

  3. Alternating Between Exercises: Performing the same activity again and again can result in a higher risk of damaged knees because the same activity follows the same motion. So instead of doing one activity such as cycling, it would be better to alternate between running and it. This reduces the risk of wear and tear.

Credits: Pixabay Caption: A man cycling on the road

  1. Do Not Ignore Injuries: If you are injured then do not push yourself to fight through it. Knee injuries can cause significantly more damage if they are left untreated. Rest is a key part of treating knee injuries. 

  2. Avoid Unnatural Bending: Most knee disorders are caused by twisting of the knee due to extensive force. There are activities in which there is a potential of unnatural bending of the knees. Such activities should be avoided so that damage does not occur.


Cracking or popping sounds in the knee are usually not serious conditions and you should not fear them. However, if the sounds are accompanied by any of the above mentioned symptoms then you should consult a doctor.

In case you do have an underlying condition, which is affecting your knees, there are various types of treatment options available which can be used. Effort should be put by all individuals towards keeping their knees healthy as it requires very simple tasks.

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