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Clicking in the Knee

Bidisha Mukherjee Apr 17, 2019
Clicking knee can be a serious warning sign in some people and for others it could be a minor issue. Here is some more information on the possible causes behind this condition.
The knee joints are one of the most crucial joints of our body. The joints are exposed to a lot of stress, as it provides support to the entire body weight. If one is involved in sports activities or any other such strenuous activity, then the repetitive movements of the knee joints put some additional amount of pressure on them.
As a result, it is susceptible to various forms of injury involving the bones, muscles, and ligaments in the region. Any problems related to the knee are alarming for us, simply because there is a fear that it can affect our body movements in everyday life. Clicking knee is one such problem where an unpleasant noise is emitted when the joint is moved.

Causes and Symptoms

It can be a symptom of a large number of health-related issues. Here are some of the major causes that can trigger this symptom. They are:

Knee Injury

If one had a trauma in recent times where he/she has banged his/her knee against any hard surface, then it is likely to have caused damage to the knee joint. It may result in fractured bones, or stretching of the ligaments, or muscle fibers. Depending on the severity of the injury, one gets a clicking knee joint along with sharp pain.
If the pain subsides after a few hours then the injury is not so serious. However, if it lasts longer than that and tends to worsen when the affected person tries to walk, then there could be a fracture in the bones or minor or major tears in the ligaments.

Meniscus Tear

Medial meniscus that lies in between the thigh bone and shin bone is a fibrocartilage band which acts like a shock absorber for the knee. It is responsible for maintaining uniform distribution of the body weight on the knee. Usually, it gets torn due to abnormal twisting of the knee joint or overstretching of the cartilage due to overuse.
For this reason, one experiences clicking knee when bending or straightening of the knee joint. Here, it is accompanied by other symptoms like leg pain and tenderness in the knee joint and blue and black bruise marks can be observed in the region.


If the knee continues to produce clicking sound quite frequently without any knee injury, then it could be a warning sign of degeneration of the knee joints or arthritis. It is most commonly found in the elderly people.
With increase in age, the bones and cartilage of the knee joint deteriorates and the pressure builds up in the area causing the clicking sound. It is accompanied by pain, inflammation, and stiffness in the knee joint.

Other Minor Causes

If one experiences no pain during certain movements like climbing up the stairs or while doing squats exercise, then it is a harmless condition. This is observed particularly, after a period of inactivity. When one performs these movements regularly, the clicking sound will disappear.
If the knee clicking is accompanied by a minor discomfort in the knee region, then it could be due to imbalance in the leg muscles. Usually, it happens when the hamstrings are weaker than the quadriceps. This problem can be rectified by the right training of the leg muscles.


The treatment is based upon underlying cause of the knee problems. First thing that needs to be done is to give adequate amount of rest to the legs, in order to minimize the stress on the knees. Then, application of ice can provide substantial relief from pain and inflammation. If this home treatment fails to cure the symptoms, a doctor should be consulted.
They often prescribe anti-inflammatory medicines to bring down the joint pain. When there is clicking knee without any pain or other symptoms, then medicines are administered to improve the lubrication of the knee joint. If a fracture in knee bone is diagnosed, then it would have to be splinted to set the bones.
Tear in cartilage and arthritic symptoms are often managed with the help of rest, physical therapy, and knee exercises that strengthen the knees. In case the ligaments are badly damaged, surgical option is availed as a last resort.
When one experiences this condition along with pain and tenderness, he/she must strictly avoid any kind of sudden and jerky movements. All kinds of sports activities must be suspended. Lifting of heavy objects can also have a negative impact on the knees. Swimming and short distance walking on grass can be highly beneficial for this condition.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.