Knee popped

Knee popped


Several people suffer from a knee popped , it is a squeak or a crackle a phenomenon called as crepitus. In reality most of the times this is no big deal at all however a loud popping noise might give a person a pause and rightfully so.

Such kind of knee pops can be accompanied by severe pain and swelling, signs that indicate an injury has occurred. This sound , that is sometimes called pathological noise or sound can indicate  that something is wrong.

Often , knee injuries can be mild, however they can also be severe enough to have a surgery. A person might even not know for sure until a doctor gets a look at the knee himself.

Down below I have explained the possible causes of knee popped, and the mode of treatment available plus when to see a doctor for knee popped keep reading.


What are the causes for knee popped?

When to see a doctor for knee popped?

How to diagnosis knee popped?

What kind of treatment is available for knee popped?



What are the causes for knee popped?

Causes of a popped knee which is followed by pain are as following :

  • ACL tear

One of the major signs of a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the popped knee that is a loud popping sound, that is usually followed by intense pain. One might not even be able to stand on the same leg or put weight on it.

  • PCL injury

The ACL isn’t the only knee ligament which can get injury but injury to the posterior cruciate ligament at the back of the knee joint is much less common than the ACL injury.

This injury is less likely  to make the same kind of loud popping sound at the time of injury than the ACL. Person will mostly experience some pain and swelling.

  • MCL injury

Any tear to the medial collateral ligament that is MCL in the knee can also lead to some pretty severe pain and swelling, and even an audible popping sound can occur if the ligament tears. The pain level can vary, depending on whether the person can stretch it or actually tear it.

Later on person likely feels some swelling and stiffness, and then perhaps an inability to bend and even straighten the knee.

  • LCL injury

The last one among the four big ligaments in the knee, the lateral collateral ligament  that is LCL is a very  commonly injured ligament.

However in some cases it may be injured along with some other ligament in the knee and not alone , so while a person one hear a popping noise or a cracking sound if it’s torn, it could also be the sound of some other ligament.

One may feel pain, weakness, and perhaps sometimes numbness or stiffness also.

  • Meniscus tear

Sometimes a sudden moment or some rotation, or even direct pressure can tear one of the two pieces of cartilage which is sandwiched between the thighbone and the shinbone.

It's called as a meniscus tear, such kind of injury can easily generate a popping sound .

Severe pain, swelling, difficulty in moving, and a weird sensation of instability may follow the pop .

One may also feel an weird slipping sensation if the cartilage becomes loose and then blocks the knee joint

  • Cartilage injury

If a small piece of cartilage becomes damaged by any means it can make a popping sound as the knee moves back and forth.


  • Patellar tendon tear

The patellar tendon that connects the top of the shinbone to the top of the kneecap , can become inflamed by certain things and this inflammation is known as patellar tendonitis and if it tears one may hear a tearing or popping noise.

One might not be able to even straighten the leg, and it may feel like the kneecap is moving up into the thigh. One might also develop some pain, even cramping, sometimes bruising, and feeling of an indentation at the bottom of the kneecap.


  • Knee arthritis

Knee arthritis, it's the arthritis of the knee and is also known as osteoarthritis, develops when the cartilage which separates the bones in the knee joint breaks down by any means.

When a person moves the knee, he can feel the bones grating or we can say grinding against each other, that can cause knee popping noises.


When to see a doctor for knee popped?

The popping sound might occur after a person collides with another person, or it might happen after a person rotates, pivots, or jumps and lands hard.

Regardless of what a person was doing or the level of fitness he is in, if anytime a person hears the pop he should get it checked out.

One may need some medical  tests to determine the cause and the extent of the damage that has happened.  Additionally, it's important to get the treatment, as it may help in avoiding other injuries which can happen down the road.

A research was done  on knee arthritis and it was found that unstable knees made people more vulnerable for falling and for other fall related injuries.

However appropriate interventions on time could reduce these risks.


How to diagnosis knee pooped?

Concerned doctor will perform a physical examination of the knee which is a must, taking note of any bruising, swelling if present or any other abnormalities which may have developed.

This will also mostly include some range of motion tests to check and note that what happens if the knee is bent or rotated.

For example, when the doctor suspects for an ACL tear, they might perform certain physical diagnostic tests accordingly like the Lachman test or the anterior drawer test to check the ACL stability. In case if it looks like it might be a meniscus tear, they will mostly perform a McMurray test, that puts some stress on the meniscus to check and see how it reacts.

Next step most likely will be imaging tests like an X-ray which is often the second step, followed by an MRI scan as to get a better look at the ligaments and structures that we concerned for damage in the knee.


What kind of treatment is available for knee popped?

 The mode of the treatment for knee popped will vary based on the diagnosis :

  • RICE :

It's not actual rice it's just an approach, which stands for rest, ice, compress, and elevate, and is helpful for the treatment injuries while being at home, including knee injuries.

The Sports medicine community and experts typically recommend to use this approach for at least 2 or 3 days after sustaining the injury.

  • Pain relieving medicines :

As it's obvious a knee injury can hurt. So commonly doctor may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that is the NSAIDs which will  help to reduce the pain, or in some severe pain cases one may even be a candidate for corticosteroid injections.

  • Exercise :

The concerned doctor might suggest to incorporate  some knee exercises into the daily routine to improve the flexibility of the knee and it's range of motion.

Some researches suggest that  land-based exercises can help in improving function and pain and the  water-based exercise may also help to improve the knee function.

  • Knee braces or other supports :

If in case your knee is noisy and it's the result of osteoarthritis, the doctor might suggest using a knee brace or a knee sleeve to support the knee joint, as it s might help this.

Orthotic inserts can be put in the shoes which might help too there’s a chance that it might not eliminate the sound , but for sure a cane might help a person to get around a little easier.

  • Physical therapy :

In few cases, physical therapy alone after some recovery time can be enough to help the person on the road to recovery from any knee injury.

However it’s  often recommended after surgery to help people regain strength and mobility of bones and muscles.

  • Surgery :

Surgery can be necessary to repair some partially or completely injured or torn ligaments. For instance, the doctor may recommend ACL reconstruction after a person tears the ACL so he can regain strength and stability in the knee.

A ligament from some other part of the body or from a donor will replace that torn ligament. A torn meniscus can need arthroscopic surgery to trim away the damaged meniscus tissue or to sew the edges of the torn meniscus  ligament together.



Knee popped can be caused by many injuries or accidents which damage the ligaments present in the knee area, sometimes it can be something serious other times it can something minor which many just require some rest. 

However Don’t grin or just bear it x if the  knee makes a loud popping sound by any means or makes series of popping noises get it checked out right away with a doctor as it can lead to serious issue in future or just in the mean time it can cause walking issues.

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