Clicking Knees... Is It Normal?

Clicking Knees… Is It Normal?

By Vasish Vasan, Physiotherapist

 

Do your knees and other joints make noise when they move? Does this worry you ? 

 

Popping, snapping, cracking, clicking or crackling are some of the ways people use to describe these noises. Noise or ‘crepetis’ is especially common when bending your knee, such as during a squat or walking up and down stairs. Rest assured, up to 99% of people’s knees make some noise! In most cases, unless the noise is associated with pain, it is not a cause for concern. 

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons your knee could be making noises: 

 

  • A build-up of fluid in the joint 

Synovial fluid is a healthy part of joint movement and is essential for everyone to function well. Pockets of air bubbles can form from changes in pressure, which burst through in movements such as knee flexion. This ‘burst or pop’ can make audible noises, similar to how we crack our knuckles or back. 

  • The knee cap gliding in its groove

Our knee cap (patella) moves up and down within a groove in our knees. Sometimes during a certain point in knee flexion or extension we may hear a clunking noise. This can be the patella repositioning itself for smooth travels within the groove.

 

  • Tendons (strong tissue that connects muscle to bone) and ligaments (stabilisers that connect bone to bone) flicking over bony points. 

This is especially common with the hamstring tendon around your lateral knee or in the shoulder joint and again, is not a cause for concern. 

 

What does all this mean? Should I be concerned?

 

You may have the perception that these noises are a sign of damage or ageing and this may lead you to reduce your physical activity. Physical activity is an important part of 

Image source: https://www.stoneclinic.com/blog/2013/12/9/whats-happening-when-your-knee-goes-snap-crackle-and-pop

maintaining joint health and makes you more resilient against damage or age related changes.

There are times when noises in your knees can be of significance. If you are experiencing pain with these noises or have a history of injury there is a chance something pathological might be happening. If you hear a ‘pop’ with any traumatic knee incident, it is important to visit a health professional. Similarly, if noises begin after an incident,

 a spike in training load, or is associated with swelling or any instability, these are circumstances in which you would want to get it checked. 

During activity or gym work some noises may be restricting you to complete movements. Your physio at QV can help modify your program to ensure you’re becoming strong and healthy without extenuating your symptoms. Our physios are always striving to get you back moving safe and healthy. If there is anything that is hampering this, we would love to help. Book an appointment online or call us on 9650 4149.

 

Citations 

Header image source: https://www.stoneclinic.com/blog/2013/12/9/whats-happening-when-your-knee-goes-snap-crackle-and-pop

Song, S. J., Park, C. H., Liang, H., & Kim, S. J. (2018). Noise around the Knee. Clinics in orthopedic surgery10(1), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.4055/cios.2018.10.1.1

Robertson, C., Hurley, M. and Jones, F., 2017. People’s beliefs about the meaning of crepitus in patellofemoral pain and the impact of these beliefs on their behaviour: A qualitative study. Musculoskeletal Science and Practice, 28, pp.59-64.

Pazzinatto, M., de Oliveira Silva, D., Azevedo, F., & Pappas, E. (2019). Knee crepitus is not associated with the occurrence of total knee replacement in knee osteoarthritis – a longitudinal study with data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Brazilian Journal Of Physical Therapy23(4), 329-336. doi: 10.1016/j.bjpt.2018.09.009

de Oliveira Silva, D., Pazzinatto, M., Priore, L., Ferreira, A., Briani, R., & Ferrari, D. et al. (2018). Knee crepitus is prevalent in women with patellofemoral pain, but is not related with function, physical activity and pain. Physical Therapy In Sport33, 7-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2018.06.002

McCoy, G., McCrea, J., Beverland, D., Kernohan, W., & Mollan, R. (1987). Vibration arthrography as a diagnostic aid in diseases of the knee. A preliminary report. The Journal Of Bone And Joint Surgery. British Volume69-B(2), 288-293. doi: 10.1302/0301-620x.69b2.3818762

Robertson, C. (2010). Joint crepitus – are we failing our patients?. Physiotherapy Research International15(4), 185-188. doi: 10.1002/pri.492