Dear Crunching and Grinding:
You describe one of the most common noises associated with the knee. The crunching, grinding, and popping you may hear is called crepitus. Not only can you hear the grinding in your knee, but you may also ‘feel’ it, too.
The most common source of these knee noises is your patellofemoral joint—where the back of your kneecap (your patella) connects with your thigh bone (femur), explains Jim Fiechtl, MD, a sports medicine physician at Vori Health. “Grinding can happen here as a result of some roughness of the cartilage behind your kneecap,” Dr. Fiechtl says. “Crepitus is most noticeable when the knee is bent, such as when squatting, kneeling, or going up and down stairs.”
Crepitus, by itself, is generally not too worrisome and often nothing more than a noisy nuisance, Dr Fiechtl explains. It does not appear to affect activity levels or knee function, but it can be associated with some early arthritis behind your kneecap (Silva 2018, Schipof 2014).
The primary concern with crepitus is to keep the cartilage behind your kneecap healthy and prevent any progression of possible arthritis. Talk with a personalized care team to find out how to keep your knees as healthy as possible.