Jump to Topics

Pop goes the knee now

Pop goes the knee now

There are many reasons why the knees create a popping sound. But does it indicate an underlying condition? Experts share their insights
If the knee pop and the pain is coming from one area in the joint then it needs to be checked by a health expert
An injury to the meniscus in the joint can also cause knee pops.

Different sounds hint at different conditions or injuries. And most of the time, it is the bubble of carbon dioxide built up in the synovial fluid (a thick liquid located between the joints) that causes the popping sound. Experts say that it is an involuntary process that causes no harm to the body.

One should not be concerned about painless popping emanating from different sides of the knee, says Dr Pramod Bhor, head of the department, orthopedic surgery, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi – Mumbai.

Crepitus: a crack is different from a pop

According to Dr C Kamaraj, senior orthoscopic surgeon, Kamineni Hospitals, Hyderabad, a popping sound is different from a cracking sound.

“A cracking sound is called crepitus (a grating sensation) which is caused due to the wear and tear of the joints. The surface of the joints becomes very rough and irregular, and when the two rough surfaces rub against each other, it causes a cracking sound. It is an indication that the joint has had some degenerative change; this is age-related wear and tear,” he explains.

Dr Bhor says that the cracking sound is very common among older people and it is often related to osteoarthritis. “Mostly women above the age of 50 and men above the age of 60 have osteoarthritis which causes wear and tear of the joints, resulting in crepitus,” says Dr Bhor.


Osteoarthritis: Cause, symptoms and treatment – Happiest Health

Pain/sound in one place needs attention

People with osteoarthritis experience painful cracking and the pain is in one place. The sound will also be heard in one place, says Dr Bhor.

“If the painless popping keeps on changing the position, then we need not worry about it. But if it is coming from one place or always on the inner side or the latter side, then it needs attention. It could be due to some injury or arthritic changes in the body which needs to be examined,” he says.


Five ways to manage osteoarthritis


What are the other causes of knee popping?

Dr Kamaraj says that a condition called discoid meniscus can also cause a popping sound. The meniscus is the c-shaped cartilage between the thigh bone and the shin bone.

“If there is a twisting injury in the meniscus, there will be a tear leading to a clicking or a popping sound. More than popping, it is clicking of the joint,” he says, adding that it can occur in young people as well.

Dr Kamaraj adds that in discoid meniscus, the popping sound could occur without pain but the cracking sound (crepitus) is usually associated with pain due to degenerative changes.

“In discoid meniscus, some children experience a popping sound whenever they sit down and get up or when they try to move the knee. For some people, it can be very painful and for some, it will be painless,” he says.

Damaged ligaments and loose fragments in the joints can also cause popping sounds. “The sound can occur in the knee joint or the patellofemoral joint which is in between the kneecap and the thigh bone,” says Dr Kamaraj.

Stating an example, Dr Kamaraj says, “there are ligaments called medial meniscus and lateral meniscus. If there is damage or any injury to these ligaments, it can cause a popping sound. It is also called locking of the knee where the knee gets locked.”

The other reason for the popping sound could be synovitis, an inflammation of the synovium (soft tissues) of the joint, points out Dr Bhor.

Bone-related injury or an injury to the soft tissues could also be the reasons for popping sounds. “Sometimes there will be a dislocation of the patella, the kneecap, where you can experience the movement of the patella which some people may express as a popping sound. There could also be a problem with the soft tissue; some tendon may move over the bone, causing a popping sound or a popping sensation,” says Dr Kamaraj.


It is important to identify the cause of popping or cracking sounds, says Dr Kamaraj. “If the sound is due to discoid meniscus or a tear in the meniscus, it may require surgical intervention. If it is at a very early stage, it can be managed by medication, physiotherapy and exercise. Most of the time, people tend to neglect the sounds and come at a later stage. A reversible problem may become irreversible due to negligence,” he says.

Dr Bhor says that normally people visit the doctor only when they experience pain or trouble in the knee and not when they hear a popping sound.

According to Dr Kamaraj, whenever someone experiences something abnormal in their body, they should approach the doctor. “They should not wait for the pain to start because by then the damage would have already occurred. Even if it is minor, one should consult the physician before it gets worse,” he says.

Knuckle cracking is different from knee popping

Dr Bhor says that knuckle cracking is different from the sound of the knee popping as knuckle cracking is a voluntary movement. The knee-popping sound is involuntary, and the sounds created by both are different.



Is it safe to crack your knuckles?

Share Your Experience/Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating. According to American Heart Association, immediate CPR can double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest. Keeping the blood flow active, even partially, extends the opportunity for a successful resuscitation once trained medical staff arrive on site. It is an important lifesaving first-aid tool that can be performed by anyone.
A new lifestyle adaptation seems to be about breaking a set of habits that are not as innocuous as they are believed to be
Chocolates have been credited for providing better heart health. According to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in 2020, eating chocolate at least once a week helps reduce the risk of heart disease. The study says that eating chocolate more than once a week was associated with an eight per cent decreased risk of coronary artery disease. But how does one choose a good dark chocolate? Watch to find out.
People with vitamin D deficiency have a lower insulin secretion than those with optimal levels of the vitamin, according to some studies




Opt-in To Our Daily Newsletter

* Please check your Spam folder for the Opt-in confirmation mail
We use cookies to customize your user experience, view our policy here

Your feedback has been submitted successfully.

The Happiest Health team will reach out to you at the earliest