Crepitus in the Knee

Many people experience a crackling, grating, or popping sensation when bending the knee. The medical term for this is knee crepitus.

A person with knee crepitus can usually feel the crunching or cracking sensation by placing a hand over the knee cap as the knee bends and straightens.

Occasional popping or cracking can be normal and is generally considered harmless. However, if the noise occurs regularly and is painful, it may indicate osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or patellar dysfunction. People who have regular, noticeable knee popping noises accompanied by pain and/or swelling are advised to seek a medical evaluation.

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Arthritis Symptoms Associated Knee Crepitus

Crepitus caused by knee arthritis is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as:

  • Pain while walking or bending the knee
  • Knee stiffness that improves with gentle stretching or exercise
  • Knee tenderness or sorness, most commonly on the inside of the knee (medial knee)
  • Occasional swelling of the knee

Many things can cause the creaking or crunching sensation while flexing and extending the knee. A doctor can conduct a clinical exam to determine if knee symptoms are caused by arthritis or another something else, such as patellar motion.

Crepitus and Arthritis Crepitus may be caused by arthritis. Learn More: What Is Knee Osteoarthritis?

Knee Crepitus Treatment

Most people experience the occasional knee pop or crackle, especially when kneeling to the floor or with repetitive knee extension and flexion. If creptius is painless, it is usually not a concern. If there are other symptoms, however, it is generally advisable to seek a diagnosis with an appropriate health care professional. A health care professional evaluate the patient and determine if the knee crepitus and other symptoms are caused by arthritis or another condition.

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