My knee keeps 'popping'. Help, please!

This is a real life worry. Help me out if you can. . .

I’m 26 years old, and as of a few months ago, every time I go down stairs, my right knee starts ‘popping’. It sounds almost exactly like when you pop a knuckle on your hands.

Why am I worried? My father seriously tore up his knee in front of me in the middle of a basketball game once. I play a lot of ice hockey. I take serious hikes with good loads on my back. I’m military, and I like my job. Why am I worried? That damn popping noise. It always happens. Before I work out, after I work out. There’s no pain, but just the noise. It’s freaking me out.

Anybody have this before? Should I be concerned? After walking empty handed down the stairs tonight, I guess I said “enough is enough”. I just had to ask . . .

This could end my stellar amateur hockey career.

I’m young as well and can crack all the joints in my body. I used to be addicted to it, but it’s lost iits interest, I guess. I’d done it for at least five years before, and have not intentionally done it now for two months.

I’ve nothing unusual to report. My knuckles are larger than most people’s but so’s the rest of me.
I think there’s a SD report on this somewhere - the gist is, the popping is the sudden formation of bubbles of gas (nitrogen) in the fluid in your joints. It’s always there, happily dissolved in the lubricating stuff (wonderful term yes?) and when you suddenly increase the volume of the space that fluid occupies, the gas bubbles out in the low pressure. Kinda like a temporary “the bends” between two bones.

My grandmother says it causes arthritis. I have no idea. Several of my profs (I’m a music student) crack their hands once in a while, and they’re not in pain playing their respective instruments.

It could be what ** cdhostage ** says, or it could be torn cartilage. I’m not a doctor, but I tore up my knee a couple of times in high school, and they always asked if I had any pops or clicks- when I asked why, they said that it’s a symptom of torn cartilage.

It could be what ** cdhostage ** says, or it could be something seriouse. I have it, too once in a while and it’s a result of a displaced patella-bone. This might especially be the case if your legs are somewhat misshaped (like an O- or X-shape).

Don’t ask us! – ask a orthepedist who can take a detailed look at your knee. Don’t ask someone at the emergency room or a General Practitioner either; make sure it’s someone who knows about knees.

That’s the lesson I learned from my first knee problem.

Yeah, but don’t go there without some prior knowledge about the issue. They might just tell you anything. On the other hand, if they get the impression, that you know something and don’t just accept any theory, they’ll make some effort to explain things to you.
Try here.

Well, for what it’s worth (probably very little) I had similar trouble for a long time. Not particularly painful except sometimes. I found it worse when things were a bit cold. Neoprene braces helped, whether because of keeping it warm or because of support, I don’t know. I asked a few doctors (GP’s), and they gave slightly different accounts but with a common thread of needing to strengthen thigh muscles. I didn’t really pay much attention to this as I was big into biking and tele skiing at the time, and figured my thigh muscles were the only ones in my body that didn’t need strengthening. But I’ve since started doing more varied sports, maybe, and doing a bit of weights at the gym, and the knee problems seem to have gone away. Again, whether that’s time or increased strength, I don’t know.

If you’re worried about it, take Quercus’s advice and ask someone who can give you a real answer…

I had a similar problem once that was due to weakened cartilege in the knee. A good physical therapist taught me an exercise to strengthen the surrounding muscles. The symptom went away and never returned. YMMV. If you’re at a gym, there may be a trainer or therapist that could advise you.

IMHO the story about such things causing arthritis is a myth.

The first time I crouch, my knees pop. If I crouch after that, they don’t, though. They’ve been doing that for about two or three years. I’ve never had any knee problems. Should I get this checked out? I haven’t really thought twice about it, but now I’m a bit concerned.

Not quite. If something is not running smooth (like with a displaced patella) you work up your condrocytes. That’s causing arthritis. The popping sound might be comlpetely harmless, though.