Knee Popping: Why Is It Happening & How to Stop It


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The older you get, the more you can expect your body to make noises; especially your joints. If you find that your knees make sound when standing up or going up and down stairs, this could be completely normal. Whether or not you need to be concerned about knee popping will depend on if it is accompanied by pain.

What Is Knee Popping?

When it comes to knee popping, this can be caused by a variety of things. Some of them are harmless while others might be a sign of a serious issue. Below are some of the reasons why you might experience popping or other discomfort in your knee.

Mechanical Popping

When it comes to this kind of knee popping, it might feel like something is caught on the inside of your knee and is popping as you move your leg back and forth. Often, this is a sign of a meniscus tear or a piece of cartilage that has become loose within the joint. These components may get caught in the knee as you move your leg and cause a popping sensation.


This word sounds incredibly scary and like some serious disease, but it actually describes the crunching sound that you can hear and feel in your knee as you move the joint back and forth. It can be caused if you have chondromalacia, cartilage wear, or arthritis in your knee.

Crepitus is a more constant problem than mechanical popping, and it is often felt more than it is heard. If you’re curious to know what it feels like or if you have this issue, then sit on a high chair or table and let you knees dangle over the edge. Place your hand over your kneecap, and then gently swing your legs back and forth. If you feel a crunchy sensation under your hand, you might have crepitus.

Snapping Tendons

If your tendons are swollen due to an injury or other issue, they may catch on the knee as you bend it. If you have this ailment, you may be able to feel it right beneath your skin at the back of your leg.

Is There a Need for Knee Popping?

In some cases, you may get a pocket of air trapped in your knee, which will give you the sensation you need to pop it—kind of like you pop your knuckles. Knee popping can be done, but it should be done safely, which means you’ll have to move with intention as well as carefully and slowly.

The best way to pop your knee is to stretch it. To accomplish this task, you’ll want to take pressure off the joint by sitting on the floor. You’ll then extend your leg out in front of you and point your toes upward. From there, you will then raise your leg upward as high as it can go. You can then bend your knee in and out toward your body until you hear a pop.

Reasons Why You Might Need to Pop Your Knee

If you don’t have one of the ailments listed above and you actually have to pop your knee, there could be many reasons for this. One of those reasons has to do with the synovial fluid in your joints. This component contains oxygen and nitrogen, as well as other elements, and on occasion, these gases build up and need to be released. This can cause the popping sound or the need to pop your knees.

Why Knee Popping Happens and How to Stop It

There are many reasons why knee popping happens, but most of them are associated with age, injury, or other ailments such as arthritis. When it comes to crepitus, there’s not much that can be done to fix this problem. It’s not possible to smooth cartilage that has become roughened.

If crepitus is accompanied by pain, the only thing you can really do is control the swelling that might be occurring inside your knee. This can be accomplished through physical therapy and exercises, over-the-counter medications, or maybe even steroid injections administered by a doctor.

When it comes to mechanical popping and snapping tendons, surgery may be required to fix these issues. Often this is done arthroscopically. However, you can expect time for recovery after the process and physical therapy to get you back on your feet and moving the way you should.

Stretch and Strengthen Your Legs

stretch leg

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In addition to treating whatever condition might ail you, you might also consider doing some stretching or leg strengthening to reduce the amount of knee popping you experience. Some of the exercises you might consider include:

Calf Release

Sitting on the floor, you will place a tennis ball under your calf. You will then move your body so that the ball rolls along your calf muscle. If you find a tender spot, you’ll need to move your foot up and down for 30 seconds.

These exercises can be beneficial because if your calf muscles are tight, they will put pressure on your knee and may even pull the knee cap out of alignment. This exercise can be done up to six times a week.

Quadriceps Strengthening

Your quadriceps is the muscle at the front of your thigh. To do this strengthening exercise, you’ll want to sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and your back straight. You can put your hands out to your sides on the ground for balance. You’ll then tighten your quads and hold them for 8 seconds, then release them for 2 seconds. The goal will be to work up to a set of 30 repetitions at least 2 to 3 days a week.

Making these muscles stronger will give your knee better support. It may help so that knee popping doesn’t happen as often or so that you don’t injure yourself, which could also lead to popping in your knee.


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In most cases, the knee popping your feel or hear in your body is normal and nothing you have to worry about. However, if you experience pain or other discomfort along with the knee popping, you may consider getting it looked at by a professional.

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