My Knee Feels Like It Needs To Pop


My Knee Feels Like It Needs To PopWe’ve all been there and we’ve all had that uncomfortable feeling – the feeling that there is so much pressure building up behind your knee that is needs to snap back into place. That’s how it feels like – your knee feels like it needs to pop.

The good news is that usually, a popping knee isn’t something you should be overly worried about, and for the most part is something that can be put down to general wear and tear. Although our bodies are machines that work well, occasionally things will go a little awry. A popping knee is one example of this.

Why does my knee feel like it needs to pop? 

If the popping is caused by overuse, generally the noise and pressure happens because damage or wear and tear has been caused to the joint. When you stand up, the knees are trying to take your entire body weight and if they aren’t in tip-top condition, they can creak, squeak and make popping noises as the cartilage rubs, and on occasion, the knee pops itself back into place.

There are, in fact, quite a few reasons why your knee feels like it needs to pop. Just take a look at some of these:

Meniscus Injury

There are two bones in the knee – the femur and the tibia, and these have a line or cartilage running between them. This fibrous and soft cartilage is called the meniscus and helps to lubricate the joint to ensure it moves smoothly, and also to ensure that the knee itself can carry and bear a tremendous force. Your knees are designed to carry your entire body weight after all.

If you suffer an injury to the meniscus, such as a tear, the joint becomes unstable and the missing or damaged cartilage means the knee doesn’t move as freely as it should, often popping into place, providing that pressure and noise you can hear. Over time, if the problem is not resolved, arthritis can occur because the missing lubrication forces extra pressure on a small part of the tibia.

Runners can often suffer with injuries and damage to the cartilage of the knee, causing Chondromalacia Patella or Runner’s Knee as it is otherwise known. Running, walking and jogging can cause this problem, often causing a lack or cartilage and therefore a lack of shock absorption, leading to problems, popping and pain.

ACL Injury 

The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, sits in the middle of the two bones that guides your shin bone and can withstand forces up to five hundred pounds in weight! Woven and long collagen strands make up the ligament and it is designed to stabilise the knee, guiding the shin bone through what is considered to be a normal sphere of movement.

If you run fast, jump, or change direction rapidly, you can experience a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament which patients report is incredibly painful. This connection between the shin and thigh bone, when damaged, will prevent the stabilisation of the two joints and will therefore cause a number of problems. Just some of these will include pain and a popping sensation.

Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Arthritis is something that many of us will experience as we age but osteoarthritis can happen at any age. Usually associated with being overweight or from a previous injury, the condition is a degenerative one that also comes with this familiar popping sensation as well as warmth and stiffness, pain and even swelling.

When you have osteoarthritis of the knee, the surfaces of the two joints become unstable which means they don’t move together smoothly. The jarred and jagged, unstable movements can lead to the pressure and need to pop.

If this condition of the knee is not diagnosed and treated, it can lead to popliteal cysts or Baker’s cysts. This occurs when too much lubricating fluid is produced by the knee joint and although painless, can lead to a misalignment and therefore a knee that feels like it needs to pop.

Housemaid’s Knee 

This is a real thing although it is more commonly known as bursitis of the knee. A bursa is a sac of fluid that sits underneath the skin, cushioning bones and tendons. They are commonly found over joints such as the knee, hip, shoulder and elbow.

With repetitive movements and other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or infections, the bursa can become inflamed and carpet fitters seem to find it a common problem because of the repetitive kneeling motion.

Ice packs can be used to treat the pressure and knee-popping sensation at home but the pain and swelling can stick around for a few weeks.

How to Pop Your Knee 

There are a number of exercises you can perform from home to alleviate the need for a knee-pop. Start with a quadricep stretch – standing up straight with one arm in front of you, the second arm holding your ankle from the same side-leg against your hip. This will require some balance on your part so make sure you are near a door or wall to catch your balance if you lose it.

For a more stable knee-popping exercise, lie down straight on the floor, bend one knee and stretch the other leg right out in front of you, top half completely flat to the floor. Hold and alternate for ten seconds each leg until you feel the knee pop and the pressure release.

Image source: scottchan /


  1. Been three days and my out of the blue knee pains till won’t let me lock my right knee :/ normally walking fixes it this time no dice. I’ll ask someone to pull my leg like you advised earlier. I’m only 23 :/ not sure what I did to make my knee so angry at me!

    • At some point, you may want to go to the doctor and get checked out. They may just recommend a knee brace, but at least you will find out if there are any other options for making your knee feel better. Good luck, Lexy S.–I hope that your knee pain gets better!

  2. If I don’t pop them intentionally, mine will pop all by themselves when standing or walking, especially the right knee, where I’ve been dealing with a tumor in the ball of my right foot since 2012 (active duty medicine is amazingly fast, isn’t it?). The pressure builds up behind my kneecap and burns like fire until it pops. If I do a quick extension of the knee, especially while holding my kneecap, I can get it to pop earlier and thus relieve the pain.

    Unfortunately, the active duty “doctors” tell me it’s psychosomatic and that I can’t possible have anything wrong with me since I’m only 39, regardless of how much pain I’m in, the fact that I’ve been in the military for 22 years, or the MRI that said MCL, ACL, and meniscus tears, so I’m stuck having people look at me like I’m a hypochondriac until I get access to real doctors. :-(

    • If you are unable to speak with a non-military doctor, then perhaps seek out someone with experience in physical therapy. They may have joint strengthening exercises that may reduce your pain. If you are unable to speak with a different military doctor, then perhaps speak with your current doctor’s superior. If military rules prevent you from doing that, then your best option may be to seek a way to get off of your knees and feet as much as possible.

    • Try both ways, prone and supine, and determine which way works best for you. If you find that you have different experiences or insights, feel free to share them with the community. Thank you for your comment and thoughts, Sherry!

  3. My knee hurts off and on I had a previous injury and I use to popy knee all the time and now when I walk sleep walk up and down stairs my knee tends to hurt off and on and it also hurts when I stand on it for long periods of time

    • It is likely that your old injuries are making themselves known. This may be because of activity or time. Remain positive as you move forward. If you find that you are concerned over the next week, then speak with a doctor or physical therapist about strengthening exercises. This will help you keep your knee strong for the future. Remain positive and mindful as you move forward, Amanda.

  4. My knee makes constant noises. I get a lot of snaps, crackles and pops. Over the last year, year and a half when I walk my knee will feel weak (upper half usually) as if I cannot fully extend it. I have to stop several times a day, stand on the same leg, lifting opposite and hop to “pop” it back to feeling normal. I was hit by a car when I was younger. Couple minor fractures, removal of tons of scar tissue. Its becoming a nuisance. Is this still “normal”?

    • It is possible that what you are experiencing is old injuries taking a more active role in your life. If you find that these pains are troublesome, then speak with a doctor or physical therapist about strengthening exercises for your leg. It is likely that your experiences are normal and nothing to be concerned about. However, if you find that you become worried or unable to do things, then be sure to take action now instead of later. Remain mindful and positive, Sara!

  5. What is a easy way to pop your knee because mine hurts and I do cheer and my sister is trying to help but she needs something to help me😀😀

    • It is advisable not to turn your knee to the side or try to pop it through torsion. You can pop your knee, if you must, by having someone pull your leg away from your body while you are laying down. Always be mindful of your body when practicing sports, and have a great time, Eliza!

      • Please help. I popped my left knee through torsion (standing up straight and then twisting body fast while keeping leg in place). I have done it many times before but for some reason this one time came along with a loud popping noise (louder than a regular pop) and a sharp pain that prohibited me from walking and putting weight on it for hours. It’s now two days later and I am still in pain but able to walk. The back of my knee is tight, ankle hurts & thigh feels a bit sore. I have pain along where the mcl is and am not sure what to do!

        • If you are able to see a medical professional, then you should do so as soon as possible. Until you are able to see a doctor, you should minimize the use of your knee. Sit more and care for knee as much as possible. Look up any small exercises that you can do to strengthen your knee in the meantime. Be sure to make the appointment within the week, as it is important that you take care of it right away.