Physical Therapist Questions Knee Problems

My knees are cracking all the time - Do I need PT?

Whenever I stand up and start walking, my knees crack for a couple of strides. It happens every time no matter how long I'd been sitting. Should I be worried?

16 Answers

Generally, we don't have reason to be concerned if one has cracking sounds without pain, swelling or weakness. If other symptoms later occur, seeing a doctor for a complete diagnosis and a physical therapist for treatment including exercises, possible taping techniques, anti-inflammatory modalities and biomechanics training would be recommended,
This can happen time to time. Over time, gas can build forming tiny bubbles in the synovial fluid. When you bend your knee, some of the bubbles burst, and ligaments may snap or pop. If you have pain with the cracklings that can maybe be arthritis. If your knee locks or gives out - that might indicate a little tear in the meniscus.
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If they hurt while they crack then yes you need PT or else good quadriceps strengthening exercise and hamstrings exercise will help out taking care of your knee cracking. Once again if it hurts this is the first phase of arthritis and you need PT.
If there is no pain, stiffness, or any discomfort then there is nothing to be worried about. The cracking (joint crepitus) is a sign of minuscule instability if you have no other symptoms. If you do have pain and especially during the cracking, then that is definitely something to be worried about.
You might need to check your knees with an x-ray to make sure your cartilage is intact first
That could be normal, but don't forced,as long as you don't feel pain you shouldn't be worried.
Does it hurt when your knees crack? The cracking could be something called crepitus in the joints but might not be something to worry about. If pain coincides with the cracking, or there is pain before or after, I would go see a PT.

Cracking knees can be a cause of the knee pain. If you have a history and pain, get it checked out! You might look into physical therapy. A trained PT can help with pain reduction, prescribing the right exercises for you and relieve pain.
To whom it may concern,

There is no need to be worried, as this is a fairly common complaint. However, it would be recommended to seek the assistance of a physical therapist. It is great to catch this type of issue early before it becomes painful and the cartilage breaks down under the knee cap. It is typically due to tension of the thigh or quad muscle causing compression of the knee cap (patella) into the joint, causing it to "crack" click or pop. Weakness of the hip muscles and joint mobility can be other factors that a PT would help determine. Then, with treatment and recommendations for exercises to continue with at home, this issue can be resolved. I have cleared these issues in as little as one visit, but, depending on the severity, it may take 6-12 visits.
If there is no pain associated with your knees cracking, then there isn't a direct concern. However, it is important to address the imbalance before it develops into a more complicated situation.
Knee "cracking" is generally an indication of a muscle imbalance in either the hip, knee or ankle. Scheduling a few visits with a physical therapist for a few weeks would be beneficial and likely will get those knees back on track.
Strengthening them would be good to help support the joint so therapy would
be a great idea!
Like a lot of things in the healthcare field, it depends. Is the cracking painful? Do you feel like you have weakness in your hips and knees when walking? There are a lot of times when we have cracking in our bodies and it doesn't mean much. Other times, it can be accompanied by pain or locking of a joint or body part. No online advice will ever be as good as a thorough, in person evaluation. If this is something that truly worries you, I recommend finding a skilled physical therapist that specializes in the treatment of orthopedic conditions as they will be able to evaluate you and find the source of your issues. I find clinically that often times there are weak muscles that can lead to faulty mechanics, but again, if you are worried a good PT will be able to help you get some piece of mind.

Hope this helps,

Dr. Eric
Knees cracking are very common. As we age, the joints will go through changes of arthritis and cartilage wear and tear. If there is no pain or swelling associated with the cracking, then there is nothing to worry about. If there is some pain, see your doctor. Chiropractor, acupuncturist or physiotherapist. They will be able to go through some orthopaedic tests to determine if there is anything to be alarmed about.

Cracking alone is not indicative of any significant injury or irritation. It may be beneficial to see a PT for a full assessment to determine if there are any imbalances contributing to the cracking, especially if you are having any pain or limited mobility.
Thanks for the question... that's certainly one that I receive quite frequently. My follow-up question is usually: Is there pain associated with the cracking or popping? If the answer to that question is "no" and you have no other impairments (such as weakness or functional limitations), then you probably have little to be concerned about. If you are getting pain with the "cracking" and/or other impairments associated with the knee, then it would probably be within your best interests to be evaluated by a professional.