Crunchy Knee Noise

  • RunnerMD

    Posts: 157

    Apr 19, 2012 10:37 AM GMT
    So first, I have some physical therapist friends that I've asked the same question, but here it goes. Last night after cross training I was in my very quiet room and had to scrunch down to pick up something. I heard this faint crunchy noise.I squat down again and realize I think it's coming from my knee, so I sit on the side of the bed, put my ear to my leg and open and close the joint. Yep, it's my knee making that noise. I have no pain or discomfort in my knees to date, during running, after running, between running et cetera. At the same time I don't want to create a degenerating condition like Chondromalacia by ignoring very early warning signs. Sadly all the advice on the internet with respect to Chondromalacia is about post-pain level healing versus how to avoid it in the first place.

    I'm assuming it's a tracking problem and my knee cap is scraping along my leg bones. The question is how to stop it from doing that. The second question is, has this been happening all my life and I just am now noticing it because I'm hyper aware of any potential knee problems as I ramp up my running.

    I'm not sure either way so thought I'd post here to see if others have had similar experiences.
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    Apr 19, 2012 12:20 PM GMT
    its very likely a recent issue, related to the running. i had the same thing in my right knee when i was rowing and running 5km a day. sounds like you're probably correct about it being an early form of patelo-femoral syndrome / chondromalacia issue, where the knee cap is grating against the grooves of the femur (thigh) bone. this is usually caused by either over/under-developed thigh muscles which are pulling the knee cap in one direction or another, and/or an inward pronation of your foot due to low arches and not enough arch support, and/or some ACL trauma caused by a sport injury, and/or repetitive high impact
    on the knee.

    in any case, you need to see a sports medicine or physiotherapist to get it diagnosed and to figure out what the best course of action is to build up strength there. i had to do ultrasound, electro-muscle stimulation, and light resistance weights to strengthen those muscles, as well as get a custom shoe orthotic insert. it helped. but i had done a lot of damage already (by running on uneven natural trails etc). reluctantly my rowing coach exempted me from running but that eventually meant that rowing wasn't going to be my primary sport. sad but true, i loved it. thats when i turned back to swimming and water polo (much lower impact!). i still run sometimes (which i enjoy), but only on spring-loaded treadmills.

    get it checked sooner than later! good luck!
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    Apr 19, 2012 12:37 PM GMT
    RunnerWannabe saidI'm not sure either way so thought I'd post here to see if others have had similar experiences.

    Yes, at your very age. I ran almost every day in the Army, not always under the best of circumstances, sometimes in boots on hard-top. My knee sounded like a bad hinge. And I could feel the crunching.

    I ignored it for years, until the pain was quite bad. At 39 I had to have knee surgery, to remove torn cartilage. To this day my knees still crack when I go up and down. I'm supposed to have more surgery, but I've had enough, too old to really worry about it, or benefit from having it done for all the hassle. A knee replacement is indicated, but until I can't walk at all I don't wanna go there.

    You need to have it examined. A non-invasive MRI may be adequate, though 25 years ago the Army docs went in with a scope.

    If it is torn cartilage you need to find out quickly, because it will be scoring your joints. In other words, the more you run & walk, the worse you will permanently hurt your joints. So get a referral to an orthopedic surgeon, to learn what you have, and what you should do.
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    Apr 19, 2012 12:55 PM GMT
    If it's the same thing that happens to me the odd time. It's a folic acid deficiency. Folic acid is a B complex vitamin. I only take it when i need it...ie if my knees are grinding. So, once or twice a year i take one or two tablets and it goes away.

    Hope that helps....
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    Apr 19, 2012 1:30 PM GMT
    When I was a kid, I noticed that my Mom had crunchy knees and all kind of joint problems. I said to myself, "Hmmmm. I'm made of 1/2 of her genetics."

    I don't run. I don't do high impact anything.

    I still have crunchy knees, but I'm in much better shape than when my mother was my own age.

    I also take Chondroitin/Glucosamine. I can tell when I miss taking it for a while. I get crackly.
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    Apr 19, 2012 1:36 PM GMT
    you may have some cartilage floating around in there causing he noise.. many don't realize you can tear cartilage just by standing up from a chair. i'd go see an orthopedic specialist and get their opinion. if it gets louder of you feel discomfort you may want to have a scope done to "clean" it out.. floating debris can cause more extensive damage.

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    Apr 19, 2012 2:02 PM GMT
    You want your knees to work well and without pain for the next 50 years. By the time I was 26 my crunchy knees hurt so bad I could hardly walk. The severe pain only lasted a few days, but since then have had ongoing low-grade pain for the last 25 years. I wish then and now that I had never gotten into long distance running. Take good care of your knees. Get great professional advice.
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    Apr 19, 2012 6:00 PM GMT
    my family has bad knees. Mine are already crunching a little when I crouch. It happens with inactive people as well.

    My mom says glucosamine and condroitin are awesome.
  • RunnerMD

    Posts: 157

    Apr 22, 2012 4:07 PM GMT
    Turns out my neck makes a similar noise. Maybe I'm just being overly sensitive about the whole thing lol.
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    Apr 22, 2012 5:20 PM GMT
    I think it may well be early chondromalacia. If you visit an ortho, make sure he/she is a runner. They are then more likely to understand your desire to run and less likely to suggest risky surgery. Surgery for runner's knee is not usually successful, but many doctors are very quick to recommend surgical interventions.

    Anti-inflammatories and strapping from a good physio kept me running when I had runner's knee. Changing to a fore-foot strike fixed it after about 18 months of pain and 6 months of daily strapping. By saying that, I am not encouraging you to adopt a fore-foot strike. Many people have injury troubles with a fore-foot strike while many heel-strikers are injury-free. It is worth having a physio look at your running gait if it causes serious issues.
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    Apr 22, 2012 5:26 PM GMT
    SkinnyBitch saidmy family has bad knees. Mine are already crunching a little when I crouch. It happens with inactive people as well.

    My mom says glucosamine and condroitin are awesome.

    bad knees and cant cook..... icon_eek.gif ...... our engagement is definitely off....Im not pushing you around in a wheelchair when you get to be my age. ....
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    Apr 22, 2012 5:29 PM GMT
    I dont know...

    Crepitus refers to joint noises, such as popping and cracking in the joints, especially the knees. Such joint noise can be quite disturbing and cause concern, particularly if it shows up suddenly. In most cases, these noises are not indicative of any underlying problem. Most joint crepitus, cracking and popping usually has a 'bark that is worse than its bite.' Joint noises often persist for years without any significant problems developing.

    Most physicians agree that if there is no pain associated with the annoying joint cracks or pops, you can assume it is being caused by the soft tissue in a joint, and is not something to worry much about. In the knee, for example, cracking or popping may occur if the patella is slightly out of alignment, and rubs on the adjacent tissues. Other causes of joint noise is the snapping of tendons or scar tissue over a prominence, or something referred to as cavitation. Cavitation frequently occurs in synovial joints when a small vacuum forms in the synovial fluid and a rapid release produces a sharp popping or cracking sound.

    Joint Noises That Cause Pain
    Any joint popping or cracking that is associated with pain may indicate damage to the articulating surfaces of the joint. Such pops, cracks, creaks and clicks could be due to tissue damage, such as a tear in the meniscus of the knee, but are sometimes due to an overly large or loose meniscus which may snap over the other structures in the joint as the knee bends and straightens.

    If you hear joint pops and clicks with no associated pain in a joint, you don't need to worry, but you may want to begin some conditioning exercises to improve the overall integrity of the joint. Stronger muscles will take the weight off of the joint and help reduce the pressure on the articulating surfaces.

    If there is pain along with those joint noises, you may have signs of structural damage building in the joint. It would be wise to see a physician for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment pain to help prevent further damage.

    http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/injuries/a/aa092500.htm
  • RunnerMD

    Posts: 157

    Apr 22, 2012 9:40 PM GMT
    Thanks for the extra input guys! I'm conferring with some physical therapist friends on the way to make sure I minimize potential to be doing damage. I doubt any orthopedist would suggest operating at this point. I don't have any joint discomfort much less pain. I can't really hear my joint noise unless I put my ear up to it in a quiet room either, so the combination probably means that I'm being overly sensitive. I'd rather err on the side of caution however.