Is Your Knee Crunching a Sign of Arthritis?

You're coming to the end of another working day at home in quarantine. You go to stand up from your (correctly set up) desk and you hear a loud 'crunch'. Now I'd imagine you haven't just stood on one of your kids carefully constructed lego models, as you would more than likely be screaming by now instead of reading this. You realise that the awful sounding crunch noise is actually coming from your knees, and you're start to sulk about your 'old knees'. So what exactly is causing this noise?


Many people will experience a crunching, clicking or popping sound when bending the knee. The medical term for this is knee crepitus. A person with knee crepitus can usually feel the crunching or cracking sensation by placing a hand over the knee cap as the knee bends and straightens.


The reason for this noise is a relatively grey area, but we can place the noise into two main categories - Physiological and Pathological.


Physiological Noise may present as occasional crunching, popping or clicking which is normal, and is generally considered harmless. There is no association of pain or history of injury, no aggravation of sounds and combined symptoms, and a sporadic nature due to buildup of air in the joint fluid.


What causes the Physiological Noise?


Tendons and ligaments around the knee can stretch slightly as they pass over a small bony lump, and then snap back into place, causing a clicking sound in the knee. This is typically the biceps femoris tendon on the outside of the knee.


Pathological noise occurs regularly and is associated with pain or swelling, it may indicate conditions including Osteoarthritis, Mensicus/ligaments issues and the kneecap tracking incorrectly.


Most people will experience the occasional knee pop or crackle, particularly when kneeling to the floor or when performing exercises such as squats. If the sound is painless, it is usually not a concern. If you have other symptoms, however, it is important to seek a diagnosis from a medical professional to establish the root cause of the noise. Following this, an appropriate treatment plan can be put in place so that the underlying issue can be addressed.


If you have noticed knee crunching, clicking or cracking with associated pain or swelling, you are welcome to ask me for advice or guidance on this via email or instagram.


Email - Ben@bencohenosteopathy.com Instagram - Bencohenosteo


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