Crepitus in the knee is a common phenomenon that many people experience at some point in their lives. It is characterised by a crackling or popping sound within the knee joint, often accompanied by a sensation of grinding or grating. While crepitus itself is not always a cause for concern, understanding its underlying causes, associated symptoms, and potential treatments is crucial for maintaining joint health.
CAUSES OF CREPITUS IN THE KNEE
Normal Wear and Tear: Crepitus can be a result of the natural aging process and the wear and tear on the joint over time. The cartilage in the knee may begin to break down, leading to friction between the bones and the development of crepitus.
Osteoarthritis: One of the most common causes of crepitus is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease. In osteoarthritis, the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears down, causing pain, swelling, and the characteristic sounds of crepitus.
Injury or Trauma: Previous injuries, such as ligament or meniscus tears, can contribute to crepitus. The altered mechanics of the joint due to an injury can lead to irregular movement, resulting in the characteristic sounds associated with crepitus.
Loose Bodies: Small fragments of cartilage or bone, known as loose bodies, can develop within the joint. These loose bodies may move around, causing friction and generating the sounds associated with crepitus.
SYMPTOMS OF CREPITUS
Sound and Sensation: The most noticeable symptom of crepitus is the audible crackling or popping sound during joint movement. Individuals may also experience a sensation of grinding or grating within the knee.
Pain and Discomfort: While crepitus itself may not always be painful, underlying conditions such as osteoarthritis can cause discomfort and pain. Pain levels can vary, ranging from mild to severe.
Swelling and Stiffness: Inflammatory responses to conditions like osteoarthritis may lead to swelling and stiffness in the affected knee.
HOW CAN OSTEOPATHY HELP KNEE CREPITUS?
Osteopaths can use soft tissue massage to muscles around the knee such as the Quadriceps, Hamstrings and calf muscles to reduce tension and improve blood flow. Joint articulation around the knee, hip and ankle can help to improve mobility and reduce restrictions within these areas.
Stretching techniques around the knee joint can be used to help alleviate tension, improve muscle balance and improve flexibility. Trigger point therapy can be applied to tight, taut bands of muscle that can contribute to knee crepitus. Press can be applied using the hands to these points to relieve tension and improve overall function.
Our osteopaths can recommend specific strengthening exercises to improve joint stability and flexibility. Isometric exercise involves a safe and pain free why to start exercising to help knee crepitus. Unlike a dynamic exercise which involves joint movement, isometric exercises involve static muscle contractions against an immovable force. This helps to improve muscle strength without placing excessive stress on a joint.