Everyone sometime in their life may have experienced crackling sound or popping of their knee joint, especially while climbing stairs or walking. In medical terminology it is referred as crepitus. Various factors underlie popping and crackling of knee joint. It may be accompanied with pain or without depending on the underlying cause. Young as well as elderly people all can experience this.
When the knee pops without producing any pain and discomfort, you don’t have to worry and most probably you do not need any specific treatment. However, crackling and knee popping if associated with pain and discomfort while walking or during some physical activity it needs medical attention as this may be related to an injury or wear and tear of the knee joint due to osteoarthritis an age related problem.
What Causes Popping And Cracking In The Knees?
There are many reasons that may cause your knee to pop and crack. Some of them are non medical reasons while few may be related to an underlying health condition. Crepitus in knee can occur in a young person and older people. Both males and females are equally afflicted by this problem.
One of the main reasons for popping of knee joint in majority of people is formation of air bubble in the knee joint. Build up of air bubbles in the joint burst causing cracking sound.Gas bubbles are formed due to change of pressure in the joint space created by regular physical activities. Snapping of ligaments and tendons over the joint can burst the bubbles producing popping sound.
Popping sound is also expected when the ligaments and tendons overstretch during some routine physical activity. All these reasons are common occurrence in day to day life and do not pose any health problems to the joint.
Medical causes for crackling and popping:
- Injury to the knee can produce popping sound. Knee injury can sometimes damage the ligaments leading to its tear. A loud popping sound may be heard during the tear of the ligament. Mostly the anterior cruciate ligament is vulnerable to get damaged in knee injury. It commonly occurs due to traumatic injury while playing contact sports such as soccer or football. Pain and swelling are immediate after such type of injury.
- Meniscus tear can also produce clicking sound. Meniscus is a tissue which acts as a lubricator between the bones of knee joint. Damage to the meniscus can put you off the balance especially when you put more force on the knee joint. This may result in crackling sound. It can develop while playing any sports or may also result from fall or slipping while walking on an uneven road.
- Cracking and popping sound is common in osteoarthritis of knee joint. It is an age related condition. With aging there is gradual wear and tear of the meniscus and ligaments of the knee joint. If the knee joint is overstretched it may cause knee to crackle and pop. The problem is commonly seen after the age of 50 0r 60 years. Pain and swelling may be present along with knee popping.
- Popping and crackling is common in runner’s knee, condition seen in long distance runners. This condition occur when there is constant friction between patella (knee cap) and the lower end of femur.
Home Remedies For Popping And Cracking Knees
Knee pop and crack is common and it does not pose any grave problem unless it is accompanied with pain, difficulty in walking, swelling of knee joint or complete immobility. In case of ligament tear, osteoarthritis or chondromalacia of patella medical care may be needed.
For example pain relieving medicines and anti inflammatory medicines will alleviate the condition in case of arthritis of knee joint. Patient is also advised to take rest for few days and reduce mobility of the joint. Few home remedies are useful in alleviating the condition.
- Give complete rest to the knee joint.
- Applying ice fomentation over the knee joint.
- Wear knee brace to reduce mobilization of knee joint.
- Physical therapy exercise to strengthen the knee joint. Perform exercises that will help to strengthen the hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteus muscles. The provide support and stability to the knee joint.
- Turmeric is effective in reducing pain and swelling. It is considered a natural anti inflammatory remedy. Take a pinch of turmeric powder and mix it in warm milk. Drink a cupful of milk daily in the morning.
- It is essential to improve the movement of your hip and ankle joint. Immobility of these joints put unnecessary pressure on the knee which in turn causes pain and cracking of knee.
- Eat fish, flax seeds etc as they contain omega 3 fatty acids that help to reduce inflammation naturally in the joints.