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Hearing a Pop in the Knee? Three Steps to Take Today

Last updated: Dec 18, 2022 Post in Pain Management Doctors in Brooklyn by Century Medical & Dental Clinic.

Hearing a pop in the knee can be alarming, especially when accompanied by swelling or pain. A popping sound without any pain is not concerning, but you must take measures to have your joint checked to avoid any injury or further problems with movement. The experienced and board-certified pain management doctors at the Century Medical and Dental Center diagnose the reasons behind these unusual sounds and help you focus on the best preventative measures. The expert physicians strive to come up with personalized treatment for knee injuries and discomfort to ensure you stay active and on your feet for a long time.

The knee is a strong yet complex joint, but it has a limited range of motion. As a hinge joint, it can only flex in one direction. It leaves the structure vulnerable to being forced out of place if it is hit or twisted. The popping is actually the sound of ligaments tearing or cartilage breaking. The small bits of torn cartilage floating loose inside the knee joint can also cause catching and popping sounds.

Learning About a Knee Pop and What to Do About It?

Squeaking, cracking, or even crackling of knees is a normal phenomenon experienced by many people, and it is not a big deal. However, a lot of popping sounds is something to be concerned about. This kind of pop comes with pain and swelling, signs that indicate an injury. The noise also called pathological noise, may mean that something is wrong.

Sometimes knee injuries can be mild, but they can be severe enough to require surgery. You must know what a knee pop is all about and what to do about it by consulting your healthcare provider. You will not know what to do unless a doctor has run diagnostic tests and evaluated your knee condition. The uncertainty of symptoms can result in a delay in treatment and more pain. Taking timely measures to treat a possible injury can help to prevent further complications.
Knee Pop

Possible Causes of a Knee Pop

Knee pop can indicate several knee conditions and result from many causes. Depending on how much pain you are having or how it has limited your mobility can give you a good idea of how serious a problem you have.

Here are some possible causes and a few knee conditions that may result in a knee pop.


Crepitus describes the popping, grating, or creaking sensations and sounds within the joint. A buildup of gas bubbles in the surrounding areas of the joint and the sudden release of the gas may cause these noises.

Crepitus is usually painless and not a matter of great concern. However, if it is accompanied by symptoms such as swelling or discomfort, you should seek medical assistance as precautionary measures may be necessary at this stage.

Meniscal tear

Meniscus tears are among the most common knee injuries, usually suffered by athletes during activities that cause direct contact or pressure from forced twists or rotation of the knee. Getting up too quickly from a squatting position can result in a meniscal tear.

The combined symptoms of a pop in the knee and swelling are associated with a meniscal tear. Most patients do not experience these symptoms after a certain period of inactivity, but they will end up with a tear.

Knee arthritis

Several types of arthritis can form in the knee, such as osteoarthritis or inflammatory arthritis. It develops when the cartilage that separates the bones in the knee joint breaks down. As you move the knee, you can feel the bones grinding against each other, and it often causes popping sounds. The general symptoms of knee arthritis include stiffness, swelling, and instability of the knee joint that cause a popping sound with movement.

Ligament injuries

Four ligaments stabilize the knee. They include the anterior cruciate (ACL,) posterior cruciate (PCL,) medial collateral (MCL,) and the lateral collateral (LCL.) An impact injury or abrupt tear in any of these ligaments can result in a popped knee, depending on the severity and level of the trauma. Such ligament injuries can result in an inability to walk, straighten or bend your knees.

Three Ways to Treat a Pop in the Knee

Recurring popping sounds accompanied by pain and swelling should not be left untreated. Visit an experienced pain management doctor to have your condition accurately diagnosed and addressed, before it turns serious.

Take some first aid measures to keep down the pain and inflammation while you connect with a physician. Here are some doctors’ recommended tips for treating a pop in the knee and keeping yourself fit and active.


Doctors suggest rest, icing, compression, and elevation for injuries to the knees and other parts of the body. Lots of rest, icing the affected area, compressing, and keeping it elevated can reduce inflammation and pain and help with faster healing. Experts suggest using the R.I.C.E approach for 2 to 3 three days to seek relief from painful knee conditions or after sustaining an injury.

Proper immobilization

Along with rest and compression, using a brace or sleeve to prevent the knee from moving can reduce the discomfort and keep the bones and ligaments in place. Based on the type of brace and your living conditions, using crutches or support can prevent further deterioration of the injury.

Recuperation exercise

In some cases, a pop in the knee indicates instability. It means the knee requires stronger surrounding muscles to support it during activity. Rehabilitation exercises strengthen the knee and stabilize the area. The knee specialist or a physical therapist can help you in this regard and recommend the best workout to maintain your balance and avoid injury.

Report any pain or feelings of discomfort to your healthcare provider so that they can be carefully checked and identified. You should avoid exercising too much at once as overexertion of the area may worsen the condition.

Knee conditions and painful symptoms should not be ignored or taken lightly, as they can result in restricted movement and further problems. Staying off the knee and applying ice to keep the swelling down should be the first line of treatment while you seek medical attention. Do not put weight on the leg or try to walk if it is causing pain.

When to See a Doctor for Your Knee Pain?

If you hear a pop in the knee after you have collided with another person, rotated, twisted, or jumped and landed hard on your feet, get it inspected by an experienced doctor. The knee is a significant part of the body that helps you maintain balance and walk free, and any injury or discomfort must be promptly examined.

Regardless of your level of fitness and the extent of injury, getting medical attention is the right choice. You may need to go through some tests to determine the causes and extent of the damage.

Getting treatment is significant as it can help you avoid other injuries in the long run. Many people with knee arthritis or unstable knees are more vulnerable to falling and fall-related injuries. Timely and appropriate intervention can reduce the risk of knee injuries and falls resulting from weak knees.

If you are suffering from any knee injuries or hear any unusual popping sound as you get up or walk, call your doctor to know about the possible causes and their treatments. The expert pain management doctors at the Century Medical and Dental Center use the best diagnostic tools and tests to determine what is functionally wrong with your joint. Knee injuries can be very troubling, but they can be managed with effective treatments and therapies, and you can remain active and fit despite minor injuries. Schedule an appointment with the top pain specialists in NY to have your condition accurately diagnosed and get timely relief for specific discomfort.

SHARE THIS POST Page Updated on Dec 18, 2022 by Dr. Dvorkina (Primary Care Doctor) of Century Medical & Dental Center
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