I recently had a 38-year-old patient tell me that it is time for her to get a new knee because she is starting to hear popping/clicking in the knee…
This seems to be a common misconception…
What most people don’t know is that popping and clicking in the knee is not inherently bad. Although, most of the general public seems to think it is.
The Knee Popping
Let’s start by discovering what could be causing the popping and clicking.
First of all, the popping noise is called a cavitation in the medical world. The noise is thought to occur due to carbon dioxide quickly being released from the synovial fluid (the fluid that lubricates joints). Once the carbon dioxide is released, it is slowly reabsorbed back into the synovial fluid. In my experience, this is not the most typical reason for the popping/clicking in the knee joint.
Other types of popping/clicking can come from muscles and ligaments rolling over bony protuberances. A common example of this would be in the hip where most people feel a pop/click over the outside of their hip from the IT band.
Creaking and cracking in the joints can also come from joint surfaces that aren’t smoothly moving across each other. Arthritic joints can make noise because the cartilage and joint surfaces have become rough.
The best news of all is that these noises are normal! The only time you want to worry about these is if they are associated with pain. A good therapist can help discover and educate you on if it is an injury or just some soft tissue/joint irritation.
Don’t think you need to have surgery just because your knee is making a little noise!
If you have pain with the popping/clicking, feel free to schedule an appointment to get things checked out here.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org