What Causes Knee Crepitus?
Knee crepitus refers to the cracking, crunching, or popping of the knee cap. This may happen among certain individuals when they bend their knees. Though occasional cracking or popping doesn't call for any cause of alarm, if this is a regular occurrence for you and accompanies pain or swelling then it is advised to seek medical attention.
Symptoms of knee crepitus may include knee stiffness, swelling, cracking, popping, pain, reduced mobility or soreness.
But what causes it? Though this condition can occur at any age, it typically affects the older population and may come as a result of injury or trauma. Specific causes said to cause knee crepitus include:
This occurs when air passes through soft tissues around the joint, causing bubbles to form in the synovial fluid which can result in popping when the knee is bent.
Damage to the knee
If you have experienced any form of injury or trauma to the knee, for example from an accident, this can cause soft tissue damage and result in swelling or pain.
This can also be a sign of a torn meniscus which can happen during sports or as you age when the cartilage starts to wear. One of the most common knee injuries, it causes forceful rotation of the knee which can end up feeling stiff and painful.
Osteoarthritis of the knee
If you experience pain when your knee pops this may indicate osteoarthritis, causing limited mobility. This occurs usually with old age as the knee undergoes more wear and tear and may experience breakdown of cartilage.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFS)
PFS can result from trauma, injury or over exertion during physical activity, creating extra pressure between the femur and the knee cap and causing the cartilage to thin. This is also sometimes referred to as "runner's knee" and involves pain around the front of the knee by your knee cap. This pain can be worsened by sitting for long periods, taking the stairs, squatting, or kneeling and will likely require physical therapy alongside rest and ice.
Supplements for clicking Joints
If you are experiencing joint pain or knee problems, the good news is that there is a lot you can do to support healthy joints and knee function, naturally.
Even if you do not experience any joint problems it's always a good idea to adopt preventative measures with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
We have assembled some of our favourite joint health supplements and natural remedies for you below to ensure you keep your joints healthy at any age:
Omega-3 fatty acids
These fatty acids are essential and must be consumed either from our food or a dietary supplement. Omega-3 is a common ingredient used in joint supplements to support healthy joints, including the knees, and even for the treatment of arthritis as they are extremely anti-inflammatory (1).
Chronic inflammation plays a big role in joint pain as it can cause increased swelling, joint fluid, cartilage damage, and irritation of nerves.
There are three omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). A combination of DHA and EPA, in particular, has been shown to improve symptoms associated with chronic inflammation of the joints (2)(3).
Research has demonstrated that an omega-3 supplement contained similar pain-reducing effects to NSAIDs in patients suffering from arthritic pain and thus may be a preferable alternative with fewer side effects (4).
You have probably heard of turmeric but what is curcumin? Curcumin is simply the active compound found in the spice turmeric and that is largely responsible for the herb's anti-inflammatory properties and therapeutic effects.
It is growing more popular as a natural joint supplement due to its significant potential to reducing pain of the joints.
Curcumin has been shown to reduce knee pain and osteoarthritis caused by inflammation, with similar efficacy to NSAIDs and often times better tolerated. This compound can be taken orally or applied topically for joint pain and knee arthritis symptoms (5)(6)(7).
This vitamin plays an essential role in bone tissue and joint health. It is involved in the absorption of calcium as your body needs vitamin D in order to utilize this mineral. Vitamin D may also possess anti-inflammatory effects, supporting its potential in combatting joint pain.
It is important to assess your blood levels of vitamin D as this vitamin deficiency has been correlated with a higher risk of joint related pain and autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis (8).
Foods rich in vitamin D may include wild salmon, trout, tuna, and mushrooms however if you are deficient a vitamin D supplement will likely be needed.
Known as an antioxidant vitamin, vitamin E can help to protect tissues from the effects of free radicals which can cause damage and inflammation in the body.
When the body does not have the resources to combat increasing levels of oxidative stress this can lead to accelerated aging and the breakdown of tissues. Vitamin E has been shown to exert anti-inflammatory effects and even reduce pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis (9).
Always check with your health care provider before supplementing in order to avoid potential toxicity levels.
Considering that the protein collagen makes up nearly 100% of connective tissue it may come as no surprise that this protein is one of the most popular supplements taken for joint health. Collagen plays a major role in keeping cartilage and connective tissues, such as the joints, strong and healthy. You could say that it acts as the glue inside your body.
Collagen can benefit the joints specifically by supporting flexibility and mobility as it helps to reduce cartilage breakdown and promote the repair process (10). Though more studies are needed there is evidence that collagen can promote a healthy inflammatory response and represent a beneficial additional treatment for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis (11).
According to Dr. Josh Axe the best collagen to take for joint health is type 2 collagen, which is mainly found in chicken cartilage.
You can include collagen supplements as part of your routine while also consuming collagen rich foods in your diet such as bone broth.
Believe it or not, vitamin B12 has been shown to work as an adjunctive treatment for pain (12).
Low levels of vitamin B12 can mimic symptoms associated with arthritis such as fatigue, and pain or tingling in the extremities.
Vitamin B12 is also involved in regulating homocysteine levels, a marker of inflammation which has been found to be elevated in those with rheumatoid arthritis (13). Low vitamin B6 status has also been noticed in patients with RA therefore a quality B complex supplement may be a good idea to target multiple B vitamins (14).
As vitamin B12 deficiency is fairly common due to poor diet or malabsorption issues we recommend testing your levels regularly to determine whether supplementation may be necessary or whether you simply need to include vitamin B12 rich foods into your diet such as eggs, dairy, clams, liver, beef, trout, salmon, tuna, beef, and dairy products.
Stretch and strengthen your quads
Staying active throughout your life is an essential part of maintaining healthy bones and joints for improved mobility and quality of life.
Working on strengthening your quadricep muscles can be especially beneficial for knee and joint health and may even help to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis and cartilage loss. If you are not working your quadriceps enough they can become weak and tense and this can in turn decrease knee function by putting more strain on the knee.
Before getting into working out make sure you start with some stretching before working your way into more strength based exercises. If you want to add an extra challenge you can add resistance bands or weights to your quad exercises.
Be cautious if you do experience knee problems or pain to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercises.
About the Author
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.