Knee problems – Popping, Grinding and Locking

Knee problems – Popping, Grinding and Locking

Popping, grinding and locking can be associated with knee problems. If the knee shows popping sounds, then there is something wrong with it and needs immediate medical attention. The fact is popping sound may naturally occur due to joint movements. Even slight misalignment of the patella (knee cap) or movements related to ligaments occurring across joints may cause popping of the knee. If pain is accompanied with the sound, then it is definitely reason for concern. Locking and grinding are termed to be better indicators of knee related physiological disorder. However, in such cases, pain factor is important.


While playing any game, the person may feel inability to kneel down or flex his leg or to straighten the leg. If this takes place, then locking is experienced that can be extremely painful. Two types generally take place, namely:
  • True locking: It is caused due to physiological problems faced in the knee. Thus the knee is unable to extend or bend and becomes rigid. It occurs due to bone fragment or torn cartilage getting jammed between the joint surfaces, thus restricting knee joint movement. If the thigh’s interior muscles get fragile and weak or tightening of the outer muscles, then the knee cap alignment may be thrown off, thus leading to locking.
  • Pseudo locking: it is reaction to pain as well as functions such as kill switch where knee gets locked into position if there is excessive tension in the region.It is possible to treat locking with adequate resting. But for true locking, it is only orthopedic surgery at the best knee replacement hospital in India that can remove loose cartilage or bone.


If there is occurred cartilage degeneration of knee joint bones, thus grinding together will mean extreme pain. It is due to rheumatoid arthritis that generally takes place in people under the age of 50. Rheumatoid arthritis may also cause degeneration and hence, the grinding sound and subsequent pain. Cartilage degeneration may also be caused due to patella tendonitis, resulting in grinding sound. This ailment is faced mainly by athletes. It is possible to reverse this degeneration. Doing knee exercises and resting can help strengthen quadriceps muscles, thus helping the knee to get back to normalcy.


Popping sound is found to be perfectly normal, unless it is accompanied with extreme pain. But if pain is felt, then it can be an indicator of tearing of ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). It could be that ACL had got torn into 2 pieces or partial rip experienced. The type of treatment to be provided will entirely depend upon the damage extent cause. Partial tears will require the person to refrain from doing physical activities until the injury gets healed completely. Popping sound 

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