Knee Popping; When to Be Concerned

A typical symptom that leads to outpatient clinic appointments is when patients are experiencing a knee popping noise. Despite its great occurrence, there have been no previous review articles on noise around the knee. A recent study looked at noise features such as sound type and onset, as well as factors that might be used to distinguish between normal and pathological noises. It looked into the origins of physiological and pathological noises, as well as how to deal with noise in the knee.

RESULTS: Popping, Snapping, Catching, Clicking, Crunching, Cracking, Creaking, Grinding, Grating, and Clunking have all been used to describe the sounds surrounding the knee.

Check for pain and swelling/effusion in the knee joint to distinguish between physiological and pathological noise, as this is commonly accompanied by pathological noise. Damage to the ligaments or meniscus is frequently indicated by a loud “pop” accompanying pain at the time of injury. If there is no history of damage, crepitus could indicate cartilage lesions in OA or inflammatory arthritis.

Physiological noise can in many forms, including:

  • Tiny bubbles in the synovial fluid build-up or burst.

  • Ligament snapping is a common occurrence.

  • Synovium catching or physiological plica catching.

  • Meniscus hypermobility or discoid meniscus are terms used to describe a hypermobile or discoid meniscus.

Don’t worry about the loudness if there is no pathological problem. The fundamental cause of pathological noise will determine how it is managed.


  • A common occurrence is noise around the knee.

  • Most often, we find that the sound is physiological, and there is no reason to be concerned.

  • Pain, effusion, swelling, and a history of injury are all symptoms of pathological noise.

  • Patients who are experiencing physiological noise should be provided with the necessary information and reassurance.

  • Patients can benefit from a careful assessment of noise characteristics and distinction.

If you are experiencing knee popping or noise around the knee, and you live in the Asheville, NC area, then CONTACT us here at 1on1 Physical Therapy today!

(828) 785-8388

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