Should My Knees Creak?

In an ideal world, your knees would move smoothly without making any sorts of strange noises. Noisy knees are commonplace though and for the most part, creaking knees are not something to be overly concerned about. A creaking sound or feeling in your knees is most likely coming from the under-surface of knee cap. And it is most likely the result of a wear and tear change to the cartilage that lines the under-surface of the knee cap and it’s opposing surface on your femur (known as the trochlear groove). When the cartilage that lines the opposing surfaces of  joint wears away, the motion of the joint can be become creaky or grindy or crunchy etc etc. For some people this wearing out process leads to irritation and sensitivity within the knee such that there is pain accompanying the creaking or grinding symptoms. For others, there is no pain, just the grinding.

Regardless of whether or not your knee is painful, if it is creaking or grinding, it may be worthwhile getting your knee examined by a Physio or Doctor. The reason we would suggest you get your knee examined is to rule out other possible pathologies as drivers of the creaking or grinding symptoms. The following tips can help you decide whether or not to seek out an assessment of your creaky knee joint

  • If the creaking or grinding is painless and doesn’t affect the function of your knee, it is likely nothing to worry about. If the creaking or grinding is painful and/or is associated with swelling or other symptoms such as loss of sensation or tingling, it would be a good idea to get it checked out.
  • If the creaking or grinding is affecting your function or preventing the knee from moving freely, you should book into see your physio or doctor.
  • If the creaking or grinding is a new occurrence. If your knee was going along fine, without making any noise, but suddenly starts making creaking or grinding, it would be a good idea to have it assessed by your Physio or Doctor.

A clinical examination of your knee will hone in on other possible drivers of the creaking or grinding symptoms. In most cases, the assessment will confirm the most likely diagnosis- that there is some osteoarthritis within your knee joint. But it may uncover an alternative diagnosis that requiring more urgent intervention. If your unsure, it is better to err on the side of getting your knee checked out by your Physio or Doctor.

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