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Knee Clicking

With knee clicking you may hear periodic snaps, pops, and crackles as you straighten or bend your knees or when you walk or move up or downstairs. Doctors term this cracking sound crepitus. Patients can often experience extreme knee pain.

One reason why this occurs is osteoarthritis, although there are many more explanations. In most circumstances, noisy knees aren’t a concern. However, if you experience discomfort, too, you may want to consider getting a doctor to check out your knees.

Crepitus in the knees is distinct from crepitus or crackling in the lungs, which might be an indication of respiratory disease.

Gas Bubbles: Sometimes tiny air bubbles (nitrogen) build up within the fluid inside your joints. These bubbles make a noise when they burst during joint movement.

Causes Of Knee Clicking

If you experience a clicking noise or clicking sound in your knee, you may have one of the numerous issues. 

First, you need to establish whether the popping or cracking produces discomfort. If you don’t feel pain along with the popping or cracking, it’s usually not a major condition. Following are the reasons for Knee clicking:

Mechanical Popping

Patients may feel a sign of popping termed a “mechanical symptom.” This may seem as if something is stuck inside the knee and is popping when the knee bends back and forth.

This sort of popping sensation is typically an indication of a meniscus tear or a loose fragment of cartilage inside the joint. The kneecap (patella) is cushioned and protected by a network of connective tissues known as fibrocartilage. Meniscal tears or slack cartilage may snag in the knee and cause pain. An audible “pop” may be felt as a result.

Some meniscus tears heal on their own; however, the blood vessels necessary to aid in the healing process are missing from deeper tissue injuries. Arthroscopic debridement may be required to trim and mend the tear.


Crepitus is a medical term for the crushing feeling experienced when bending and straightening the knee. Patients with irritated cartilage may have crepitus

Chondromalacia, or injury or loss of cartilage, is the underlying condition that causes this symptom to manifest itself. Additionally, individuals with cartilage wear, such as knee arthritis may also show signs of this condition.

Unlike mechanical popping, which gives the impression that something has become lodged in the knee, crepitus is a more persistent issue.

Crepitus is generally felt more than heard. Test for crepitus by sitting on the edge of a table with one leg bent. Then, with your hand resting on the front of your knee, gently extend and drop your knee. You may feel the crushing feeling beneath your palm when you have crepitus.

Tendon Snapping

Swelling of the tendons around the knee may cause the tendons to snag on the knee when the knee is bent. Iliotibial (IT) band tendonitis is the most prevalent kind.

You have a tendon that extends from your hip to just below your knee, known as the iliotibial band. A swollen or inflamed band may become trapped on the end of the thigh bone as the knee bends back and forth.

This form of popping is different from mechanical popping in that it is felt just below the skin. If you lay your palm on the damaged tendon and move your knee, you may be able to feel the problem.

Surgery for Knee clicking

After surgery, the knees may become louder. This might be related to the operation itself or the properties of the new joint in the event of a joint replacement.

In many cases, the noises were always present, but individuals are more aware of them after surgery because they are more focused on their surroundings at this time.

Crepitus following knee replacement does not affect long-term prognosis or quality of life after three years, according to a study involving over 5,000 patients.


Osteoarthritis may strike anybody at any time, although it most often appears in adults over 50. This kind of arthritis is characterized as “wear and tear” arthritis because it often affects the joints that are frequently used, such as the knees.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions a joint breaks down due to mechanical stress and metabolic changes. For example, the joint may fracture or crunch while it gets inflamed. Osteoarthritis may be indicated by the presence of crepitus accompanied by pain.

Air bubbles

Air seeps through soft tissue, making its way into the joint’s synovial fluid and generating small bubbles, which make the popping sound.

Bubbles might burst with a popping or cracking sound when a person bends or extends their knees. As scary as that may seem, most of the time, there’s nothing to worry about.

Knee Injury as a cause of knee clicking

Tissue damage or lesions, for example, might be the source of an underlying condition. Treatment may be required in this situation.

Scar tissue, a torn meniscus, or a tendon sliding across a projecting bone in the knee joint may all produce discomfort when the knee snaps or catches.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFS) or runner’s knee, a rupture in the cartilage or other soft tissue, or osteoarthritis may cause discomfort or swelling (OA). Medical treatment may be required for these situations. Let’s take a closer look at them now.

Treatment for knee clicking

Knee pops and crackles are common, particularly while kneeling on the floor or doing repeated flexion and extension of the knee. 

Crepitus is seldom a problem if it isn’t painful. 

Experts in the field of medicine examine the patient and establish whether or not the patient’s knee crepitus and other symptoms are caused by arthritis or some other disorder.

Physical therapy is a great alternative form of treatment for knee and hamstring related injuries. Moreover, sports injuries involving the anterior cruciate ligament can also be managed efficiently with proper physiotherapy and sports medicine.


Structures in and around the knee that cause clicking have a poor blood supply, which is why they can struggle to heal on their own. It is the oxygen and nutrients in our blood supply that helps to heal these structures.

Prolotherapy involves the injection of a regenerative solution into these structures to provide a direct supply of what is required to heal and repair which in turn, reduces the clicking.

As the treatment is helping to treat the root cause of the problem, it is deemed to be a permanent fix.

When to See a Doctor?

If you notice any of these symptoms, see an orthopedic as soon as possible to rule out a more serious problem. So doing may avoid more severe knee problems, such as ACL or femur damage. Between 100,000 and 200,000 people are affected by them each year.

However, even if the popping in your knee doesn’t hurt, you should still get it looked out. It’s possible that it’s a precursor to an overuse injury in certain people. Knee-strengthening workouts, weight reduction, or a new pair of shoes may be necessary to safeguard the joint.

The most effective therapies are those that address the precise condition that is producing the abnormal popping or cracking inside the knee joint in a direct and specific manner. Rest and anti-inflammatory drugs are effective ways to lessen knee joint inflammation and alleviate crepitus and tendon difficulties.

Arthroscopy is the procedure of choice for the majority of mechanical issues in the knee. In order to repair any damage, a camera and instruments are inserted into the joint via tiny incisions.

The Bottom-line

There are several possible causes for a popping or cracking feeling in the knee. See your doctor right away if you’re experiencing discomfort and popping or cracking sounds. However, even if you don’t feel any cracking or popping, you should still consult a doctor.

An examination by a doctor may help you determine whether or not you have a major problem with your knee.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a clicking knee mean?

Clicking the knee refers to the dislocation of cartilage that happens with age. It leads to ragged edges of the cartilage becoming captured between the joint surfaces, followed by clicking and popping sounds. Clicking the knee resists the normal movements that can not be treated on their own.

How do I get my knee to stop clicking?

To stop knee clicking, you should:

  • Wear proper footwear
  • Adopt the right sleeping posture
  • Use supplements and vitamins
  • Do compression therapy
  • An appropriate warm-up
  • Do compression therapy

Will clicking knee go away?

Understanding what is causing knee clicking and cracking at first, one can easily manage it. Normally clicking knees may not lead to any serious complications. And people with knee clicking do not need any particular treatment. However, if ones can observe any other serious symptoms, it may be a good idea to concern a doctor.

Why does my knee click every time I bend it?

One can notice the knee clicking while bending. It is because of the presence of synovial fluid in all our joints. Synovial fluid assists the bone’s movements smoothly over one another. Sometimes, air bubbles are formed in the synovial fluid. So whenever you bend your knee, the tiny air bubbles effuse, clicking and cracking in the knees.

Does arthritis cause a click in the knee?

Yes, there are many indications of arthritis in the knee:

  • Knee buckling
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Skin redness
  • Creaking, snapping, grinding, clicking noises
  • Warm skin
  • When you try to move your knee, it sticks or locks
  • Joint stiffness

Is walking good for arthritis in the knee?

A fantastic treatment for patients having arthritis in the knee is walking. Because walking is a light and endurable activity that does not strain the joints, walking can raise the range of knee motion and prevent them from becoming overly rigid and stiff.


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  8. Crepitus in the knees is distinct from crepitus or crackling in the lungs, which might be an indication of respiratory disease.

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