Why Does My Knee Crack or Pop? Should I Be Worried and What Should I Do?

Why Does My Knee Crack or Pop? Should I Be Worried and What Should I Do?

We’ve all experienced that popping or cracking sound in our knees. Whether it came from bending over to lift something up or even just getting off the coach, we may have asked ourselves “Where did that come from?”

Most of the time it’s completely normal. Sometimes when we are stationary for long periods of time, pressure can build up in our knee joint. When we move from this position, pressure is released from the joint creating the popping sound. This can sometimes happen when we move at an awkward angle as well. 

However, there are signs that these noises could be more serious. If you have pain when experiencing cracking or popping it would be helpful to have your knee assessed by a rehab specialist. They will help you the determine the source of the cracking and ways to improve your pain. This article will explore some of the potential causes and ways to treat it. 

Meniscus tears:

Your meniscus is a rubbery disc that sits in the bones that make up you knee. It acts as a shock absorber when you walk or run and also helps to stabilize your knee when you rotate through it.

Meniscus tears can happen from sports, especially those that involve twisting and turning. One of the most common features of a meniscus tear is painful cracking and popping sounds, usually when the knee rotates.

Monster Walks to reduce knee pain courtesy of Kenaston Common Physiotherapy

Cartilage injuries

Cartilage is a protective substance that coats the ends of the bones that make up our joints. As you get older, you may start to develop arthritis which makes the cartilage less resilient to stress. With arthritis, your cartilage begins to thin and becomes less efficient in it’s ability to tolerate load. Sometimes, if different surfaces of the knee joint age at different rates it can create pressure gradients in the knee. This can cause you to hear frequent clicking or popping from the knee, as pressure is released from the joint.

If this is not painful, then you have nothing to worry about. However, if these clicks are painful it might indicate an irritation to the cartilage. In this case a reputable physiotherapist or chiropractor can help!

How to keep your knees strong and healthy

Regular exercises

Whether with weights or resistance bands, strength training can help strengthen your legs and knees and protect them from injury.  Additionally you can strengthen the cartilage in your joints through endurance activities such as like cycling, running or swimming.

Keep your joints flexible

After you exercise, stretch your muscles. This is a great way to feel looser and allow your joints to move more freely. 

Wear shoes that fit right 

Old or poor fitting shoes can put more stress on your knees and contribute to injury.

Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight puts extra stress on your knees which can contribute to pain. In people with osteoarthritis its been shown that losing only 10 lbs can cause a 50% reduction in symptoms. 

Physiotherapy can also help build up your knees and slow down the aging of your joints. If you have muscle imbalances in your hamstrings, glutes (buttocks), hip flexors, ilopsoas, and quadriceps it can contribute to knee injuries or problems. A physiotherapist can help you address this.

If the above strategies do not help you, using a Knee Brace can provide extra support when you move around.

Here are some of the benefits of Custom Bracing (Read the caption) of courtesy of ADM Ottawa Physiotherapy:


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most people experience a pop or crack in their knee every now and again. However, these noises may become more frequent as we get older and our knees start to age.

Occasional cracking and popping sounds are normal. If it occurs very frequently and is painful then it would be good to see a doctor to determine if it is arthritis or another injury such as a meniscus tear.

There is no evidence that supports any particular vitamin reducing the amount of cracking in a joint. However, it may be helpful to supplement with vitamin D and calcium to keep our bones and joints strong.

About Taylor Sipos

Taylor is a physiotherapist at The Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic located in Toronto, Ontario. He treats patients with various musculoskeletal conditions using patient education, exercise therapy, manual therapy and acupuncture. His treatment philosophy involves giving his patient’s the means to self-manage their injuries. He does this through reassurance, education and health promotion. Taylor uses the same principles as a patient educator at Pain Hero. He aims to provide you with high-quality, easy to understand information to teach you about your condition and how to improve it.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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