What does it mean when my knees make noise?

What does it mean when my knees make noise?

If your knees snap, crackle, and pop more than rice cereal, you may feel concerned that it is a sign that there is something wrong with your joints. The good news is that these cracking noises are perfectly normal as long as they aren’t accompanied by pain.

Why Your Knees Make Noise

The technical term for the popping and cracking noises you hear when you walk upstairs or bend to pick up something is called “crepitus.” Although you can experience crepitus earlier in life, it becomes more common as you age and can happen for multiple reasons:

  1. Gas Bubbles: Gas can build up around the joint over time and form tiny bubbles that burst when you bend your knee.
  2. Uneven Cartilage: Cartilage can develop unevenly as we age, causing our knees to make noises as these uneven surfaces glide against each other.
  3. Snapping Ligaments: When the ligaments and tendons that surround the knee stretch, they can make a clicking sound as they snap back into place.
  4. Every Body is Different: Every person has slightly different tissues and components that can affect how noisy your knees will sound.

When There’s Cause for Concern

If you have cracking or popping that does cause pain or swelling, though, see a doctor. It can be a sign of:

  • Tears in the Meniscus: The meniscus has an important job. Rubbery and C-shaped, the meniscus is a disc that helps cushion your knee, absorb shock, and evenly distribute weight to prevent your bones from rubbing together. The meniscus can tear if you suddenly twist or make other movements during sports. Although young people may experience a meniscus tear during an event, it can tear more easily for other reasons as we age.
  • Injured or Worn Cartilage: If the cartilage covering your bones is injured, a piece can break off and lodge itself in a joint. As a result, the knee can swell or catch. Arthritis can also cause the cartilage in your knee to break down and some people say they feel like their knees are crunching as they move.

How to Support Your Knees

How to Support Your Knees

There are many easy ways to support your knees on a daily basis to help keep them strong now and into the future.

  • Exercise Regularly: Make an effort to be active in some way every day. Movement helps combat stiffness and muscle atrophy. Specifically, low-impact exercises like cycling or swimming can help to protect the cartilage in your knees and prevent future damage.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight can put significant stress on your knees; losing just 10 pounds can make a big difference.
  • Try Yoga: Stretching your leg muscles can help maintain your range of motion.

    Walkaway with Confidence

    In conclusion, your knees making noise is completely normal—IF—there is no pain that accompanies it. If you do experience knee pain when you hear snapping, crackling, or popping, contact your doctor.


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