A Knee That Keeps Popping: Is It Normal or a Cause for Concern?

April 30, 2023
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Have you ever squatted or bent down to pick something off the floor, only to hear a loud popping sound coming from your knees? If so, don’t worry. It’s not a premature sign of aging but rather a very normal joint sound known as ‘crepitus.’

The reason why knees pop is because carbon dioxide gets trapped inside the kneecaps. More specifically, gas bubbles form inside the knee joint’s synovial fluid. Thus, when your knee bends, the bubbles rush past the opening, leaving behind a popping sound. But despite being a common occurrence, if your knees keep popping all the time, it could be a cause for concern. To learn more, carry on reading this blog.

Is It Normal For Your Knee To Pop A Lot?

Surprisingly enough, it is completely normal for your knees to pop every now and then. Even though it might sound scary, there is usually nothing to worry about, given that there is no swelling, tenderness, or pain associated with the sound.

However, if your knee starts popping after every leg movement and is accompanied by redness or swelling, seek immediate medical attention.

Why Does My Knee Keep Popping?

Think of your knees like your knuckles. Much like how knuckles crack and are safe, knees, too, can pop or crack and be completely okay. It’s only when the popping gets too frequent that it might indicate something is wrong, which can include the following causes:

1. Injured Cartilage
The cartilage in your knee is already fragile. Thus, when your kneecap rubs against the femur, it can damage the cartilage and cause it to wear off. This can further lead to bouts of pain, making it difficult to move your leg freely.

2. Meniscus Tear
Did you know that between your knee joints lies a soft, cushiony muscle known as the meniscus? Although it is bouncy and tough, sudden shock can cause it to rupture. A torn meniscus can be extremely painful and difficult to deal with. Depending on the severity of the tear, you might need surgery to be able to move your leg again.

3. Muscle Inflammation
Overusing your leg muscles can lead to muscle strain, but it can also irritate your knee. When this happens, a lot of popping and cracking sounds echo from the knee. But you can slowly get rid of the haunting sound through rest and time.

Treatment Options For A Popping Knee

Usually, a popping knee heals on its own. But if the sound doesn’t go away and keeps bothering you, let a medical professional know. Based on the results, the doctor will most probably recommend one of the following treatment methods:

  • The R.I.C.E Method (Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation)
  • Physical Therapy
  • Knee Surgery
  • Using a temporary crutch
  • Wearing a knee brace for support

Bottom Line

All in all, the reason why your knee keeps popping is probably due to a strain or leg muscle injury. It could also just be a harmless crepitus sound. Although rather than brushing it away and facing the consequences later, it is better to get it looked at by a professional.

For more information, contact Mufaddal Gombera, MD, at (713) 794-3457. You can also visit our clinic inside the Texas Orthopedic Hospital at 7401 Main St, Houston, TX 77030.

Dr Gombera Cover

Dr. Gombera

Dr. Gombera, earned his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and completed his orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Michigan. Expanding his expertise, he undertook a sports medicine and arthroscopy fellowship at Northwestern University in Chicago. Recognized as a Super Doctors Rising Star and honored for patient care excellence at the University of Michigan, he holds multiple certifications and licenses, solidifying his dedication to delivering exceptional medical services.

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