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What does it mean when you walk down the stairs and you here an odd grinding sound coming from your knees?

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Lately I have noticed a very audible sound coming from my knees when I go down my stairs. It actually sounds like the squishing of wet foam shoes as opposed to a grinding noise. I have no pain in my knees, but am concerned that over time there will be pain. I have researched online and most people say that it is due to weak muscle behind the patella(knee cap). Others state that the doctor will most likely dismiss the issue because there is no pain and that there has to be a major disfunction before the specialist gets involved.

Anyone having the same problem? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks JodiSmile

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I have a bad knee due to getting hit by a car when in my twenties.  It was only  really started to bother me in my late  forties. 

 I then had surgery to have my knee put in the right place.  The after effects of the surgery is I have no fluid to cushion the knee so need Synvist shots every so often.  (this is a thick liquid which cushions my knee) 

My knee gets that grinding noise when the fluid is no longer there.   Now my other knee is starting to make the same noise as I tend to put most my weight on that knee.    

 If you can see an orthopedic doctor they can tell by feeling the knee.  Maybe all you need is a few strengthening exercises which they will give you or maybe you need a shoe insert  to support your instep.    I also have a shoe insert as I tend to walk on the inside of my foot which was messing up  knee also.

It does not have to be a major disfunction for a specialist to get involved.

i have the same noise coming from my right knee..oddly enuff my left knee is my "bad" knee..had surgery on it when i was doesnt hurt but the sound is rather

I am 55 years old, ran track when I was 15 years old and when I joined the Air Force in 1973 at 19 we were required to run annually for a fitness exam.  Well I decided to run all the time starting at 3 miles and over the years got to 6-8 miles a day.  Around 1985 I started noticing a creaking sound in my knee, eventually it would swell, not when I ran but when I walked around the block with a neighbor at night or when I went bowling.  In 2003 if you put your hand on my knee you would not only hear a grinding crunchy sound but also feel it and exercise had pretty much come to a stand still, I ended up getting arthroscopy which helped for about 4 months.  In Jan 2007 I had that knee replaced  because the other knee was getting bad and I really wanted to get them both replaced because they said I needed 5 weeks to recover.  Honestly other than some muscle cramps the knee replacement wasn't bad at all, wish I had done it long ago and I can't wait to get the other done just because the pain will be gone.  Rehab isn't great because you have to increase the bending of the knee but its not torture either.  I was probably 32 or so when it first started and the doctor said I had a touch of arthritis.  Prior to the knee replacement it looked like I had no knee cartilidge.  I had SynVisc injections in the left knee a few times but they aren't really helping as much as they initially did so I haven't done it again this year.  If you end up needing anything like this I encourage you to see a joint specialist.  There are advancements in this all the time so maybe by the time you need it it will be a week or less recovery time.

My left knee creaks whenever I squat down, but it doesn't hurt. I mentioned it to my doc once and he shrugged it off. Said people's joints often creak and not to worry about it unleass it starts to hurt.

My knees and various other joints pop. 

Rather than a grinding it is a audible pop like twigs snapping (hubby says I sound like a 90 year old), it comes from knees mainly but also from hips etc.  My doctor although useless as he is, says it nitrogen bubbles in the joints and nothing at all to worry about - you do wonder though why there are nitrogen bubbles forming.  At this stage I can still exercise with no problems so haven't forced the issue.

If anyone else knows for guaranteed that popping is bad, please let me know as my doctor has misdiagnosed previously so I don't entirely rely him.


See a orthopedic doctor, please.  When a joint is popping it can be partially coming out of the socket or you may just be misaligned or your fluid may be low in your joints.  

I have never heard of nitrogen bubbles forming in a joint.  When mine starts popping I know that it is time for my Synvist shot for my knee as one knee needed to be realigned through surgery so now does not have any fluid.  Synvist replaces this fluid for about 6 months.


I have problems with stairs, knee bends, some times standing for long hours.  I have joined a chronic pain group which provides exercises to lose weight and to control pain.  I can not do all of the exercises, but can do some .  So far I have lost 10 pounds.   I know I will have to up my exercises if I want to keep losing.

Please let me know how it goes.  




The cartilage in the knee can make all kinds of noises.  If it gets a little ragged or a piece becomes detached then that can affect movement or cause swelling.  If there's any sensation of 'locking', 'catching' or of the knee giving way then talk to your doctor.  But if none of those apply and there's no pain attached then what you're experiencing is probably quite normal.

yes,the knees do give out and lock up at times,i used to do gymnastics and the dr's think all the problems seem to stem from back then....thanks for the reply

My right knee started making a creaking noise when I walked up stairs about a year ago.  I noticed that my right knee feels the impact more when I run outside vs. running on a treadmill.  The harder impact of the pavement bothers joints more and my knee is evidently more sensitive.

I addressed it with my Dr. and she recommended taking 1500 mg glucosamine daily and using the free weights at the gym to strengthen my leg muscles.   I still have creaking but it has not gotten worse and I try to run on surfaces that absorb impact.

oh my gosh,thank you so much laura! knowing that will help me a bunch.when u have insurance, some dr's milk it and send you to dr after dr and still not get an answer Money mouth  have a nice day

11 Replies