Why Does Your Knee Snap and Pop? by: Howard J. Luks, MD

Click on Photo to go to the Howard Luks, MD Website for more information

Click on Photo to go to the Howard Luks, MD Website for more information

Why Does Your Knee Snap and Pop?

Snapping and popping knees bring many patients in the door. Some patients have painful snapping of their knee and some simply have snapping with no pain. Some patients note a history of trauma, some do not recall any injury. While not all cases of knee popping require treatment, some do. Let’s explore what are some of the more common reasons that our knees will snap and pop.

What Makes Our Knees Snap and Pop?

Our knee joint is composed of three bones — the end of the femur or thigh bone; the top of the tibia or shin bone, and the patella, or kneecap. The knee is supported or held together by a number of ligaments. The knee moves because of a number of large strong muscles and tendons. The force across the knee is borne by the medial and lateral menisci, which are two cartilage discs that protect the cartilage surfaces of our knees.

All of these structures can be damaged by activity, trauma, injury or simple degeneration. Many injuries to the knee structures mentioned above can causes snapping and popping of your knee.

Most common reasons your knees pop or snap:

Chondromalacia
Meniscus tears
Cartilage Defects
Patella Instability
Osteoarthritis

(See website for description of each).
 
 
 
There are many more less common causes of knee snapping and popping. The issues mentioned above usually cause painful snapping and popping within the knee. If you have painful popping, snapping and swelling you should see your doctor.

Many of you will have painless knee popping and snapping. Sometimes our knee pops or snaps for no known reason. In many situations it is simply “normal” and no treatment is necessary.

 
 
 
Howard J. Luks, MD
About the Author:

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon who specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. I have a very “social” patient centric approach and believe that the more you understand about your issue, the better your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and my recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision making principles — all geared to improve your quality of life.