08 Nov Is It Normal For My Knees To Crack?
Do your knees crack when you move around or bend them? This sensation is known as crepitus, which occurs when air bubbles build up in the synovial fluid in the knee joint and burst when the joint adjusts. These air bubbles can produce a loud cracking sound when they burst, which can sound alarming but is usually harmless. At New York Sports Medicine Institute, we treat patients with various knee joint problems. If you are experiencing crepitus, continue reading to discover more about this sensation and how it is treated.
Why Do The Knees Crack?
Crepitus can occur for various reasons. The knee is one of the largest joints in the body, and as you straighten or bend your knee, the kneecap (patella) glides smoothly back and forth. The cartilage in the knee cap allows for this smooth movement and provides stability to the knee. As a result of arthritis or general wear and tear, the cartilage in the knee can wear down and cause the bones to grind against each other and cause crepitus. The bursting of air bubbles in the synovial fluid is rarely cause for alarm, but if you experience pain when your knee cracks, it could be a sign of a more serious issue. Some of the common conditions or injuries that can cause crepitus include:
- Runner’s Knee – Runner’s knee, or patellofemoral syndrome, is a condition caused by excessive force on the knee cap.
- Meniscus Tears – Meniscus tears are prevalent among athletes. This injury can cause pain and crepitus as the knee joint moves.
- Osteoarthritis – Osteoarthritis is a condition that combines age or activity-related stress and biomechanical changes. This condition causes the cartilage supporting the knee joint to wear down over time and causes inflammation and crepitus in the knee joint.
If your knee cracks and you don’t experience pain, it could simply be an early sign of overuse. However, you should never leave your knee pain unchecked. Our experts at New York Sports Medicine Institute will evaluate your symptoms and determine if your crepitus results from an underlying injury or condition.
Crepitus usually requires no treatment. However, it’s best to consult our team at New York Sports Medicine Institute for care if you have pain or other symptoms from a cracking knee. Treatment for crepitus will be based on its underlying cause. Some of the recommended treatments include:
- Lifestyle changes.
- Weight loss.
- Steroid joint injections.
- Ice and heat therapy for inflammation.
- Therapeutic exercises to support and strengthen the knee joint.
Some causes of crepitus may require surgical treatment to correct the issue. Our team at New York Sports Medicine Institute will advise you on the most effective treatments for relieving joint pain and minimizing further damage. Some of the surgical options to eliminate pain-causing crepitus include:
- Arthroscopy – Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure involving using tiny instruments and small incisions to access the joint. In cases of patellofemoral syndrome, our surgeon will remove bits of damaged tissue and reposition tendons to provide better knee movement.
- Joint Replacement – Joint replacement surgery may be indicated if you have advanced arthritis or joint damage. This procedure involves implanting an artificial joint in place of a damaged one.
- Debridement – Debridement is another minimally invasive procedure that enables the surgeon to smooth out damaged cartilage to reduce friction and pain.
The knees are critical for daily functioning, so it can be alarming when something feels off. At New York Sports Medicine Institute, our team will carefully examine your knee to determine the root cause of your symptoms and develop a treatment plan that gets you back on your feet pain-free! To learn more about treatment for cracking knees, contact us today and request an appointment!