Spooky creaks and cracks coming from your knees?
Does the cracking in your knees “spook” you out?
Yes – it’s Halloween – and we’re having some fun over here… But in all seriousness – when it comes to cracking in your knees (or any joint for that matter) – people get nervous.
First of all, cracking in your knees (as well as your other joints) is quite common – and most of the time there’s a reasonable explanation for it.
Crepitus is the term used to describe any grinding, creaking, cracking, grating, crunching , or popping that occurs when you move a joint like your knee. You can experience this at any age – but it’s certainly more common as you get older.
So what causes crepitus – and should it be a concern…
The most common causes of crepitus include air bubbles popping inside your joint, tendons or ligaments snapping over your joint’s bony structures, or the degeneration of your joint’s cartilage that generally occurs with arthritis. You may experience uncomfortable sensations, or even a tiny bit of pain when this happens, but in most cases, none of this should scare or concern you.
It’s all a normal part of aging and wear and tear.
But if the cracking in your joints starts to become more regular – is accompanied by joint swelling and more constant pain – or if the cracking turns to “clunking” and your knee starts to feel unstable… then you’re smart to be concerned and it’s possible something more serious could be going on.
If you suspect something like this could be happening – get your knees checked out by an expert.
But assuming you haven’t let your knees get to the “concerned stage” yet… and the most annoying thing to you right now is the cracking, grinding, or crunching…
There are things you can do to prevent it from getting worse.
The first thing I always recommend is to keep moving.
Motion is lotion.
And regular movement throughout the day helps keep your joints lubricated. It’s like applying WD-40 to a creaky door hinge – when your joints creak – move them to lubricate them.
The second important thing to consider if you want to reduce crepitus and prevent it from becoming something more serious is your biomechanics.
Biomechanics refers to how well your muscles and joints function together.
If you’ve got imbalances – it will impact the way your joints move and function – causing more creaking and cracking.
For example, let’s say your hips are on the weak side. How your knees tolerate various activities depends a lot on how strong your hips are. I’ve experienced this first hand… I love to hike. And if my hips aren’t doing their part, I feel the entire hike in my knees, especially on the way down.
And you know what else happens?
My knees crack a lot more on the days after I hike.
The imbalances in my body cause more stress on my knees and the result is they crack a lot more. Now, as I mentioned previously, this isn’t a big concern for me… yet. My knees don’t hurt – they are just very noisy. But in the interest in prevention – I make a conscious effort to regularly stretch my quads, and strengthen my hips and core – so that I can keep this problem at bay and not let it get worse.
My FAVORITE way to do this is with Pilates.
Specifically… on the Pilates Reformer!
When you use the Pilates Reformer – it allows you to both strengthen and lengthen at the same time – as well as focus on your coordination. These three things – when combined together – help to significantly optimize your biomechanics.
If you’ve never used the Pilates Reformer and want to give it a try – check out our Pilates program HERE.
Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth. To get a FREE copy of her guide to knee pain – CLICK HERE