The most common question people ask here about their knee health is: “Why does my Knee Click?”
People’s reactions to these noises a kneecap can make include: Is it Arthritis? or Am I wearing out my Knee Joint?
WHAT IS THE CLICKING NOISE?
First of all, medically we call the clicking noise a joint make - CREPITUS. Kneecap crepitus is incredibly common and is found in a quarter of all knee injury cases. The noise usually occurs when you bend your knee more than it used to going, producing a loud, audible noise (a crack, click or a popping sensation).
WHAT CAUSES KNEECAP CLICKING?
There are a few known reasons for getting kneecap noises - it's either from bubbles of gas popping or knee anatomy.
Gas Bubbles: Sometimes tiny air bubbles (nitrogen) build up within the fluid inside your joints. These bubbles make a noise when they burst during joint movement. The gas gets pushed through a very narrow joint space making a noise (e.g. just like cracking your knuckles!) By the way it’s a Myth you’ll get arthritis from cracking your knuckles!!!
Your anatomy - Structurally your kneecap is held in place on top of the knee joint by muscles, tendons and ligaments. If these soft tissues get tighter on 1 side of the knee more than the other, the kneecap can get pulled a tiny amount into different positions as you move, creating a noise sensation. You could otherwise just be born with a shallower groove that the kneecap sits in, so it will just move more naturally? Lastly, if it may not even be the knee that’s at fault? The hip and foot are also culprits in fixing kneecap pain/clicking!
Both of these 2 causes are fairly normal and occur in everybody.
Kneecap clicking is not often painful and people are used to living with it for years. Hearing unusual noises from the knee can worry people, as you fear the worst when you can’t see what’s going on inside. Don’t panic! Noise doesn’t always mean damage.
We do know that Kneecap clicking/crepitus is more common in women than men. This is possibly due to the bio-mechanics of women having a wider pelvis (allowing knees to knock in more), and there’s also hormonal differences (estrogen) in women that can increase soft tissue laxity, allowing the kneecap to be able to move more freely?
Note: real arthritis is very different to a popping or clicking sensation (which is what we’re talking about in this blog).
Should you start to feel any major pain, develop swelling or the knee gives way underneath you then please seek medical advice from a Physio or Doctor straight away.
CAN PHYSIO HELP WITH CLICKING KNEES?
Physio can definitely help anyone who has a kneecap that’s clicking. We can help by looking for any muscular imbalances - you need to keep all the muscles around the hips and thighs strong enough to support the kneecap efficiently. We use a variety of techniques here at the clinic including: k-tape, massage, rehab exercises and custom insoles.
If you or a friend are struggling with knee pain at the moment click the link below. Remember If in any doubt, get it checked out by one of our team members!