Knee Popping Sound

by Sam Malone

Knee popping and cracking are common symptoms often experienced by athletes or those who are very active physically. Many of us exert our knees when we are working out, training or even when we are just going about our daily activities like climbing stairs. You are more likely to hear the knee popping sound when your knee joint is in motion. The movement of the ligaments in the knees causes this motion. At times, it can also occur because of an imbalance in the kneecap (patella). Moreover, when there is friction between the knee socket and ligaments, a popping sound is heard at the front of the knee, surrounding the kneecap.

In a few instances, a knee cracking sound may have nothing to do with pain or discomfort in the knee. However, in most cases, the popping sound is accompanied by pain and general discomfort in the knees. In case you experience knee popping or cracking once in a while, you have nothing to be concerned about. However, if the phenomenon is frequent, it may be a symptom of a degenerative condition that needs immediate medical assistance. Some of the factors that could cause you to notice the knee cracking sound include:

  • Tears in the menisci, i.e., the cartilage in the knees that act as shock absorbers and enable smoother knee movements
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, a problem in which the cartilage behind the kneecap gets frayed and leads to pain and popping
  • Misalignments in the ankles, hips or knees or the overuse of these joints.
  • Arthritis, a degenerative disease that causes the knee joints to break down and gradually deteriorate
  • Movement of the tendons, ligaments as well as the gases (oxygen, nitrogen) in and around the knee joints
It is best to get the knee popping sound checked by a doctor, especially if it is accompanied by pain. If your doctor confirms that the sound is not caused by a major problem, you could prevent it by following a few steps:

  1. Strengthen the muscles in your legs, especially the hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps. This provides added support and therefore stability to your knee joint. The most effective exercise for overall leg strength is squatting below parallel.
  2. Improve the mobility in your hips and ankles. The lack of mobility in these joints compels your knees to compensate, which in turn leads to knee pain and cracking.
  3. Before engaging in any exercise, lubricate your knee joints using the right warm up stretches.
  4. Learn to jump correctly, as landing with straight knees forces these joints to absorb the impact. This is bad, not only for your knees, but also your other joints. The most appropriate way to land after a jump is the half squat.
  5. Follow a healthy diet, which provides the right nutrition for all the joints in your body. Make sure that you consume a high variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day, as they are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The antioxidants present in these foods enhance connective tissue health. Also include fatty fish, supplemented with fish oil to your diet, to reduce inflammation in the joints.
  6. Avoid exercises and activities that put additional pressure on your knees, cause knee pain, or worsen the cracking sound. Talk to a fitness expert about the problem you face while performing a particular activity and look for the right technique.
While these tips to reduce the knee cracking sound are quite safe if practiced correctly, it is best to check with a doctor before trying any of them. In case the cracking sound worsens or occurs more frequently, it is important to get it checked by a doctor immediately.

References:
  1. http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/joint.html
  2. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/knee-pain/DS00555/DSECTION=symptoms

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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