Popping or Crackling Sound in the Knee

The popping or crackling and crunches that occur when we bend the knee can be considered normal only when they are occasional. If the sounds are uttered every time you bend or straighten the knee, it could be a sign of a knee condition that will need the attention of a knee specialist. But what is the knee condition and why does our knee make such noises? We asked the leading orthopaedic specialist in Mumbai, the same question and paraphrased his answers in this blog for you. Read on to know:

What knee condition causes the popping or crackling sensation of the knee?


Knee Crepitus is a medical term for a condition that causes the popping or crackling sensation of the knee joint. It can happen to any joint in the human body but it is more common to occur in the knee joint when it bends or straightens. The sound is often described as pop, crunch, crackle, and snap, creaking or clicking. For the remainder of this blog let us call this noise a pop.

Is the popping noise from the knee joint serious?

“It is quite normal when these noises are occasional and painless. If a patient is also experiencing pain with the noise, then it is a sign of an inherent knee problem that needs to be examined”, says top knee surgeon in Mumbai, Dr Chirag Patel.

What causes the popping noises in the knee?


The most common cause of the popping sound in the knee joint is the presence of air bubbles in the joint. A knee joint is a complex system – made up of bones that joint together by ligaments, lined by synovium, lubricated by synovial fluid and supported by cartilage. Tiny air bubbles can develop anywhere in this system (most probably in the synovial fluid).

The air bubbles break to produce the popping or crunching sound in the knee when climbing stairs, bending or straightening the knee joint. This sound is completely normal, painless that need not be worried about.

Treatment for painful knee popping sound:


Snapping of ligaments, Patellofemoral instability, Injury or previous surgery are some other causes of knee popping or crackling sounds. However when the popping sound is accompanied by pain in the knee that could be a sign of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatment for painful knee popping sound is performed by an orthopaedic specialist based on the underlying cause. Weight management, medications, heat and cold therapy, and physical therapy are some of the common treatment options for painful knee popping sounds. Vitamins for knee popping sound (crepitus) and other natural products like curcumin, frankincense and specific teas are used for pain relief. But their efficacy is not verified yet. In very rare or severe cases surgery or knee joint replacement surgery may also be recommended by joint replacement surgeons. If you are suffering from knee painful popping sound then we advise you to consult a knee specialist to find the underlying cause and start the treatment plan to get rid of the pain at the earliest.