"Popping, Clicking and Locking? What’s going on with my knee…"

March 5, 2023
5 min read

Knee pain can be a frustrating and debilitating experience that can impact your daily life. One of the most common complaints associated with knee pain is popping, clicking, or locking. These symptoms can indicate a variety of underlying issues, some of which are more serious than others. Let’s explore the possible causes of popping, clicking, and locking in the knee..

  1. Meniscus Tear - The meniscus is a rubbery, C-shaped disc that cushions the knee joint. When the meniscus tears, it can create a popping or clicking sound. You may also experience pain and swelling, and your knee may lock or give out.
  2. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome - Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is a common condition that occurs when the patella (kneecap) rubs against the femur (thigh bone). This friction can cause a popping or clicking sound, and you may also experience pain and swelling around the kneecap.
  3. Ligament Injuries - Knee ligament injuries, such as a torn ACL or MCL, can cause a popping sound at the time of injury. If you've experienced a knee injury and you hear a popping sound, it's important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  4. Osteoarthritis - Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that can cause popping or clicking in the knee joint. As the cartilage that cushions the knee wears down, the bones in the joint can rub against each other, creating a popping or clicking sound. You may also experience pain, stiffness, and swelling.
  5. Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome - The IT band is a thick band of tissue that runs from the hip to the knee. When the IT band becomes tight or inflamed, it can cause a clicking or snapping sound in the knee joint. You may also experience pain on the outside of the knee.

Now remember, these are what are known as the diagnosis. Whilst the above diagnosis may explain the cause of the popping, clicking or locking it’s more important to identify the functional impairments that have led to that diagnosis. Some examples of functional impairments may be quadriceps weakness, tight hamstrings, anterior pelvic tilts or core instability. At Movement Therapy our focus is on addressing these things so that no matter what the source or the discomfort is, we focus on the root of the problem so we can aim to eradicate pain and improve your quality of life.

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