All You Need To Know About Your Knee Creaks and Cracks

We know noisy knees are worrying. You hear the creaks and cracks when you squat and run. Maybe even when you walk – upslope or not. Your knees also hurt. You are worried your knee pain is the beginning of your worst nightmare and you don’t know what to do.

Stop worrying about your cracking knee!

The good news is the knee crepitus you are experiencing is most likely benign! In a study of 497 knees (McCoy 1987), 99% of the subjects with normal, healthy knees had creaking in their knees.

In short, normal knees can be noisy. Don’t worry about it 🙂

But what is crepitus?

Crepitus is a crackling or grinding sensation within the joint. Period.

While older definitions of crepitus may refer to crepitus as rough surfaces coming into contact with each other, this definition largely refers to arthritic knees. While true in patients with arthritis, this definition is considered outdated and does not include the crepitus individuals with healthy, normal knees may experience.

Too often we hear patients with knee pain referring to the sensation as “bone-on-bone” or “wear and tear”. This is NOT true.

Again, arthritic knees do present with knee crepitus but healthy knees – more often than not – also experience the same crepitus.

Do I need help?

If you do not have pain or any observable symptoms, no. You more than likely have a perfectly healthy knee which makes a little noise whenever it feels like. If you are still concerned your knee crepitus may mean something serious, seek professional help from a trustworthy clinician for a peace of mind.

If you do have pain, pay a visit to your trusted chiropractor or physiotherapist. Remember, noisy knees do not automatically mean you have knee arthritis. You could have knee pain unrelated to your knee crepitus. Your healthcare provider will be able to advise you accordingly.

Take home message?

Knee crepitus is not an indication of joint damage or ageing knees. When you doubt, seek help from some one you can trust.

Don’t give up your knees. They are not giving up on you yet.

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References:

  • McCoy G, McCrea JD, Beverland D, Kernohan G, Mollan RB. Vibration arthrography as a diagnostic aid in diseases of the knee. J Bone Joint Surg (Br) 1987; 69-B, 2: 288-293