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Crunchy Knees: Understanding the Crunchy Sounds in your Knee

Do your knees sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies when you climb stairs or exercise?

THE GOOD NEWS Is is not your bones rubbing together!!

If you've experienced that unsettling grinding this phenomenon is often called crepitus, a term used to describe the audible crackling or popping sounds within a joint that usually does not cause pain.

Crepitus is often associated with movement and can be experienced in various joints of the body; it's important to note that Crepitus sounds occur when there is a shift inside the knee joint.

Can the crunchy sounds go away? The answer is yes.

Causes of Crepitus

Joint Instability

When ligaments, which are responsible for stabilizing joints, are stretched or damaged because of muscle imbalances within the knee joint, this instability can cause the knee cap to move out of the trochlear groove of the femur resulting in Crepitus. The sounds are usually heard once the knee is in a bent position like climbing stairs, exercising or standing up from a chair.


Osteoarthritis can contribute to Crepitus. In osteoarthritis, the joint surfaces may become irregular, leading to increased friction and noise during movement.

Meniscus Tears

This causes the knee joint to become unstable resulting in pain and crepitus

Note: Continue crepitus over a period of time can result in the wearing down of the cartilage inside of the trochlear groove causing the knee cap to shift out of the groove when bent.

Lady sat down holding her knee

Symptoms Associated with Crepitus

Sound and Sensation

The most noticeable symptom is the audible noise or sensation of grinding, crackling, or popping within the joint during movement.

Discomfort or Pain

Crepitus is sometimes accompanied by discomfort or pain, especially if it is associated with an underlying condition such as arthritis, meniscus tears or a joint injury.

Swelling and Stiffness

Swelling and stiffness are common symptoms associated with inflammatory processes or joint damage, and they can contribute to the occurrence of Crepitus. When the soft tissues surrounding a joint become inflamed or when there is damage to the joint structures, it can lead to an accumulation of fluid (swelling) and a reduced range of motion (stiffness).

Ladies working out in a park

Action Steps to Reduce the Crunch

  • Reduce Inflammation

Reducing inflammation is a key factor in managing and eliminating Crepitus. By addressing what is causing the inflammation, individuals may experience decreased pain, swelling and grinding sounds. This not only provides immediate relief but also supports the overall health and longevity of the joint.

  • Correcting Muscle Imbalances

Muscle imbalances impact joint positions. The quadriceps tendon is usually the main cause of crepitus. There are 4 muscles in the quadricep family. If one or more of these muscles becomes weaker, stronger, looser, or tighter than normal this will create a muscle imbalance. Simple exercises and stretches are required to begin correcting this imbalance and creating a smooth movement within the knee joint.

Are Your Knees Crunchy?

If you've been grappling with crepitus, I invite you to schedule a "Eliminate the crunch chat"

It's not as intimidating as it may sound—we'll engage in a conversation and perhaps explore a couple of exercises, all with the aim of uncovering the root cause of your pain and charting a course toward relief and freedom.

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