Is Knee Clicking Dangerous?

Article by Alex Clarke

Is Knee Clicking Dangerous?

We all know the creaks and groans that our knee joints can sometimes give us when we move. But is this an indication of something more sinister going on? When should we get further advice?

What Causes Knee Clicking?

There are a few possible reasons why your knees might click.

Physiological Reasons

Some joint noises are entirely normal and termed “physiological noise”. There should be no pain or swelling associated with these physiological noises. The click occurs when one anatomical structure rubs against another.

Meniscus Tears

Clicking in your knee can also be due to a tear in your meniscus – soft cartilage inside your knee. This crescent moon cartilage can develop either acute (sudden) tears or chronic degenerative tears due to an overload of the structure. Pain with clicking, and swelling of the knee, could indicate a tear of your meniscus.

More information about meniscus tears.

Knee Arthritis

Clicking, or grating noises, may also result from arthritic changes in your knee. Some of these changes are considered normal degenerative (age-related) changes. There is a poor correlation between any findings on a scan and the level of pain (if any) experienced. However, we know a good correlation between these clicking noises being present and the future presentation of arthritis in your knee and patella joints exists.

The common name for repetitive joint noises is crepitus. Crepitus may be audible (we can hear it) or palpable (we can feel it but can’t hear it).

More info:

Knee Osteoarthritis

Kneecap Arthritis

When Do You Need To Be Concerned?

Painful clicking or swelling should be investigated immediately with your physiotherapist and GP. Clicking without pain is generally not a cause for immediate concern. Still, it would be best if you examined it at some point to help identify risk factors and prevent the progression of the condition.

What Can You Do About Knee Clicking?

Research evidence supports knee exercises to help strengthen and loosen your knee will control pain and knee function. This improves typically your joint control, alignment and biomechanics, which results in less clicking. Your physiotherapist will prescribe an individualised exercise program to help keep your knee joint in good health, build strength in the muscles around the joint to help with shock absorption, and improve your balance. Diagnostic imaging, if required, can either be organised through your physiotherapist or discussed with your GP or specialist.

If you have any questions, one of our team would be more than happy to discuss this further.

If you are unsure, please call us at PhysioWorks. One of our knee physiotherapists will assist your decision process based on your concerns.

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