Woman's Knee Cracks Walking Upstairs

And is it something you should be worried about? Jim Newman explains.

Perhaps you notice it when you walk upstairs. Maybe it’s all too clear when you crouch to pick the post off the mat, remove the dog’s collar or do a bit of weeding. It’s that unmistakeable ‘crunch’ that sounds like a bowl of Rice Krispies snapping, crackling and popping in your knee.

So what’s really happening? And is it something to worry about?

Generally speaking, as long as it’s not accompanied by any other symptoms, a knee crunch isn’t something to worry about. The condition is known as ‘crepitus’ and it’s a sign that the gliding cartilage beneath the kneecap is softening, roughening and may be beginning to split.

That sounds worrying but it’s something virtually everyone will experience at some point. The fact your knee crunches isn’t any great predictor of the sort of wear and tear that leads to osteoarthritis. The same is true of the degree of crunch. Whether it’s a mild crackle or sounds as though you’ve stood on a bag of crisps, the level of ‘crunch’ doesn’t appear to correlate with how worn the kneecap is.

As long as the crunch isn’t accompanied by pain and providing it doesn’t bother you in some other way, it shouldn’t be a symptom of anything requiring treatment and I wouldn’t seek a medical opinion about it.

The position changes if the crunch is accompanied by other factors. If, for example, you said to me, “I’ve got terrible pain at the front of my knee. It’s worse when I go up and downstairs and there’s a terrible crunch when I flex the knee joint,” then that may well be an indicator of something more significant. It would certainly be reasonable to seek diagnosis and mention the crunch as one of your symptoms.

If that’s the case for you, contact a YKC knee surgeon now or phone us on 03453 052 579.

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James Newman

James Newman

Private appointments weekly at Spire Methley Park Hospital

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