Why Do Our Knees Crack?

If your knees crack often, it may be a sign that you suffer from osteoarthritis. It's important to visit a doctor or physiotherapist to find the cause and treat it.
Why Do Our Knees Crack?

Last update: 04 June, 2021

The knees are one of the most important joints in the body. This isn’t just because it allows us to do such basic actions like walk, but they also support all of our weight. When our knees crack, it may be because something isn’t working correctly.

This fact is a lot more common than you may think. Throughout our lives, in the majority of people, the knees are the most heavily loaded joint. Issues like other joint injuries or obesity can cause further problems for the knees.

Although a lot of the time our knees crack and they don’t cause us pain nor any other cause for concern, if this happens often it could be a sign that there’s something wrong around the joint.

In this article, we’ll explain why knees crack and how you can look after them to prevent this.

Why do our knees crack?

When our knees crack they make a popping sound that could be indicative of different things. Sometimes, this crack happens because there’s an accumulation of gas in the synovial fluid. The synovial liquid is what we can find between the bones that make the joint.

This gas, when we bend our knees, can be what causes the noise. However, if our knees crack often it’s something to worry about. The main cause of this is the wear on the articular cartilage.

When the cartilage is worn, it can lead to osteoarthritis. This is an issue that causes pain, and inflammation, and limits the movement of the joint. If there’s not enough cartilage, the bones knock against each other, which damages them.

Several studies evaluate the risk factors of developing osteoarthritis. One of the factors that specialists studied was knee cracking. They saw that the people whose knees crack regularly are three times more likely to suffer it.

black and white image of a knee and the knee joint highlighted red
Cracking knees is a risk factor for osteoarthritis.

Who does this happen to?

Although everyone’s knees will crack at some point during our lives, some people are at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis than others. And most notably, this risk increases with age.

Alternatively, some investigations suggest that women are more likely to suffer from arthritis of the knee. The same happens with athletes, especially runners. This is because they subject the joint to continuous work that tends to wear it down.

Obese people are also more likely to develop osteoarthritisStudies conclude that being overweight is a risk factor, as this increases the amount of pressure on the joint’s cartilage. Also, those suffering from obesity have a higher concentration of inflammatory substances in their blood, which can worsen the problem.

Being overweight is a risk factor for developing arthritis in the knee.

What to do if your knees crack?

First of all, if you’re overweight, it’s a good idea to reduce your weight. Experts note that every 2 pounds exert the force of 11 pounds on the knee. For that reason, losing weight can cause a notable change to the state of the joint.

Secondly, it’s essential to reinforce the muscles in the knee. By strengthening the quadriceps and the rest of the muscles like the hamstrings, you increase the stability of the joint.

Similarly, you must maintain a healthy posture. This is especially important when sitting down, as that’s where we spent most of our time. We recommend you avoid overstretching your legs and keep them at a 90-degree angle.

If none of these tips help you, you can also visit a physiotherapist. There are even hydraulic acid treatments that can help to improve the state of your cartilage.

Something to remember

When your knees crack, you should visit a doctor or physiotherapist straight away, especially if this noise continues. In addition to this, you can include some of the tips that we’ve mentioned previously to reduce the progression of cartilage wear. You should always follow guidance from someone who has the ability to diagnose you with what’s really happening when it comes to treatment.

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