Why Do My Knees Crack?

By Andrew Heideman PT/ATC

Why Do My Knees Crack?

By Drew Heideman, MPT, ATC, PES

Cracking the knees with motions such as squatting or stair climbing can be very common though it is usually harmless. Why do your knees crack then? Through the normal aging process, the cartilage covering the joint surfaces of bones can develop uneven or rough areas that can create a sound when gliding across each other.

Knee Anatomy Lateral View

Lateral Knee Anatomy

Soft tissues such as the joint capsule, muscles, and fascia can also create a popping or cracking noise as they glide and stretch across other tissue layers due to joint movement. Other times, an audible popping noise can be heard when the pressure quickly changes in the joint capsule as the space between the two joint surfaces expands. Occurring most commonly in the hand’s knuckles, this rapid expansion of the joint space releases gas as the pressure changes within the joint and an audible pop or crack is heard.  Your doctor or physical therapist can determine whether the painful popping results from a meniscus tear, severe cartilage wear, or even ligamentous instability.

Causes of Knee Crack or Pop

Popping that is painful should be evaluated by an orthopedic professional.

  • Arthritis breaks down the padding in the joint
  • Loose cartilage
  • Previous knee injury

What are Exercises for Knees Crack

  • Hip flexor release
  • Calf release
  • IT band release

The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute offers physical therapy at 12 convenient locations across Northeast Florida. Physical therapy is a conservative approach to treating disease, injury, or deformity.

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