What is crepitus?

Many of us might have experienced a popping or cracking sound in the joints, particularly the knee. This is not considered as an issue to worry about but some might find it frightening, believing that there might be something wrong with the joint.

If an individual experiences joint noises such as cracking and popping in the knee, it is called as crepitus. This joint noise can be distressing and cause concern to many individuals, especially if it manifests abruptly. In most circumstances, crepitus is not indicative of any underlying health issue. In some cases though, joint noises can persist for many years without any significant issues from developing.

Many doctors have agreed that if absence of pain is noted despite the disturbing joint cracking and popping sounds, it can be assumed to be caused by the soft tissue present in the joint and not an issue to worry about.


Any joint cracking or popping that is linked with pain can indicate damage to the articulating joint surfaces.

When it comes to the knee, the popping or cracking can manifest if the kneecap is slightly out of its proper alignment and rubs on the neighboring tissues. Other possible causes of crepitus include the snapping of the tendons or presence of scar tissue over a prominence or cavitation. Take note that cavitation typically occurs in the synovial joints once a small vacuum develops in the synovial fluid and an abrupt release triggers a piercing cracking or popping sound that some find annoying.

Crepitus that causes pain

Any joint cracking or popping that is linked with pain can indicate damage to the articulating joint surfaces. The crepitus might be due to tissue damage such as a tear in the meniscus of the knee, but oftentimes due to a loose or overly large meniscus which might snap over other structures in the joint as the knee straightens and bends.

If the individual hears the clicking and popping sound without any connected pain in a particular joint, he/she should not worry but might want to consider starting some conditioning exercises in order to improve the overall integrity and functionality of the joint.

It is important to note that the stronger muscles will relieve the weight off the joint and help minimize the pressure on the articulating surfaces. In case the crepitus is accompanied by pain, it might indicate structural damage that starts to accumulate in the joint. With this in mind, it is recommended to consult a doctor for proper assessment and start the appropriate treatment plan to prevent further damage.

In case the individual finds the cracking or popping sound disturbing, it is best to consult a doctor so that proper assessment can be carried out. In addition, the suitable treatment option can be started in order to help ease any accompanying symptoms that will manifest.


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