Knee Pain And Popping Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Home Remedies

Knee Pain And Popping Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Home Remedies

Knee Pain 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. 

What causes Knee Pain And Popping?

Ligament Tear

This is most often associated with knee injury popping, where a popping sensation is felt at the time of injury. ACL tears are especially known to make a popping noise during impact. Knee popping may also occur after a ligament tear, since the knee joint won't be moving normally due to the injury.

Meniscus Tear

A tear in the cartilage of the knee may also cause a popping noise. Meniscus tears can occur suddenly or over time, so the onset of popping may be gradual. Since the meniscus cushions the knee joint, a tear may cause the knee to make the popping noise. It may come and go depending on the way you are walking or using your knees.

Knee Hyperextension

When the knee ligaments are stretched past their normal range of motion, it may cause strained tendons. Before the joint has fully healed, a popping knee sensation may be felt.

Chondromalacia or Runner's Knee

Overuse injuries to the leg may also cause knee popping. Typically during these conditions, the knee will not track properly in the joint, causing knee pain with popping. This is most common in athletes who have the onset of knee popping without a traumatic injury.

Osteoarthritis of the Knee

As the knee wears down over time, it may cause the joint to move in such a way where the knee is popping and painful. The popping noise may be caused by the bones in the joint rubbing, since the cartilage has thinned out and is no longer supporting the area like it used to.

The most common cause of popping knee without pain are usually gas bubbles (similar to when you crack your knuckles) or just the natural sound of your ligaments and tendons stretching as you move around.

How is knee pain and popping diagnosed?

Knowing when your knee pain and popping began is vital to diagnosing your condition and choosing appropriate treatment methods. If a loud pop was heard when you initially injured your knee, you may have torn a ligament. A pop might also be heard when the knee is dislocated. However, if your knee pain preceded a popping noise, your diagnosis may be different. The knee pain and popping may still be signs of a stress injury that is less severe than a dislocated joint. Chronic joint conditions, such as arthritis, can result in knee pain and popping, too.

Treatment for Knee Pain And Popping

If your knee is popping without the sensation of pain, it may be perfectly normal. However, it is still advisable to check with your doctor at your next appointment (or right away if you are concerned or if other symptoms such as swelling or knee pain are present.).

When the cause of your knee pain and popping is the result of an injury, your treatment plan should involve adequate rest. Anti-inflammatory medications and pain killers help control the symptoms while you recover.

If your doctor has determined you have torn a ligament or the meniscus, then surgery may be required. After surgery, the knee may continue to pop without pain since the muscles supporting the knee may atrophy during recovery. Physical therapy and the use of a knee brace can not only help prevent knee popping, but may also help minimize the risk of re-injury.

For ongoing knee popping conditions such as chondromalacia or arthritis, then your doctor may suggest rest until pain has been minimized. After that, physical therapy may be recommended to help strengthen the joint. Patella tracking braces such as the DonJoy Reaction Knee Brace may also help the joint track properly and prevent knee popping. (The DonJoy Reaction may also be used to help provide arthritis support.)

Remember, if you have knee pain with popping, be sure to see your doctor to determine the cause of the knee popping and to develop the best treatment plan for your situation.

How can you prevent knee pain and popping?

Preventing knee pain and popping is easier and more effective than treating it. To prevent joint pain, whether it is chronic or temporary, avoid unnecessary strain and reduce your activity until the pain subsides. Stretching your muscles before working out improves your range of motion and protects your joints from injury. A diet full of lean proteins and fresh produce provides your body with the nutrients it needs to properly recover. Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise may not only reduce the amount of strain that is put on your joints, it may also improve flexibility further decreasing your chances of injury. Proper foot wear with durable soles and flat heels takes some of the pressure off of the joints in your legs, too.

It can be easy to take your knees for granted. Take treating your knee pain and popping seriously in order to prevent the worsening of your injury. Talk to your doctor about the treatment options available for your knee pain and popping.

Home Remedies for Knee Pain and Popping

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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Before engaging in any exercise, lubricate your knee joints using the right warm up stretches.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.