View Full Version : Seeking advice on "crunching" knees

11-11-2004, 12:20
Well, I took my first backpacking trip since 1988 last month around Mt. Monadnock in NH, hiking about 18 miles on the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway. Though I worked through my pack three times, I ended up with about 50 pounds for the week-long trip. I was also wearing good Zamberlan boots.

Anyway, about three weeks after the trip, I noticed "crunching" in my right knee on bending it, though there's been no pain. I've yet to consult my primary care doctor, but I'm concerned something's going on with my meniscus or something else. The left knee seems fine.

I was also using Leki's for the trip, which we useful.

Here's my question: what's going on in that knee? Anyone have similar challenges? Is it possible I've done serious injury to it?

I know most of you are perhaps not doctors, but your personal opinions and experiences with such situations would be most welcome.

Also: recommendation on what sort of specialists I should consult on this?

With gratitude to my fellow hikers,

11-11-2004, 15:16
Anyway, about three weeks after the trip, I noticed "crunching" in my right knee on bending it, though there's been no pain. I've yet to consult my primary care doctor, but I'm concerned something's going on with my meniscus or something else. The left knee seems fine.

No pain = no worries. My wife's does that, but she has never had any pain. Don't worry about it. Joints make sounds. As long as they feel fine, there isn't any concern.


11-11-2004, 15:43
I'd be concerned that there was a sudden change in the feel and sound of the knee, even without the pain. I'd encourage you to get it looked at, as you may have some damage that isn't recognized beyond the "crunch."

I suspect that you are hearing fluid moving between bursa and that there is no biggy problem, but I'd not trust a cyber doctor.

11-11-2004, 17:20
The crunching you hear/feel is called "crepitus" and can be totally harmless on one hand or can represent the beginning of a serious problem if left unattended. Depends a lot on where in the knee joint the crunching is originating.

I work in sports medicine and I would suggest that you consult with your physician and at minimum, get a good set of knee xrays to check for visable bony or cartilagenous problems. MRI is an expensive diagnostic tool but if your problem persists and causes you concern I would seriously consider having that exam and getting a definitive diagnosis. Unlike regular xray, MRI is excellent at detecting soft tissue and cartilagenous problems.

AT 2003

11-11-2004, 18:33
My knees have been 'crunching' for years. Usually when I walk up or down stairs. It's never bothered me so I've never had it looked at.

The Solemates
11-11-2004, 19:19
My knees "crunch" a lot and I am still young. This is especially true if I do a deep knee bend, like when I stoop down and get back up. I can both feel the sound and hear it. I figured it was because I lifted so much weights with them. I typically work my legs out once a week with weights, doing lying leg presses in a weight range of 450-1200 pounds. This puts tremendous pressure on the tibial plateau. I figured that even with this high compression, my knees and the surrounding joint would strengthen with time. This may not be true, however, for the cartilage or menisci between the tibia and femur. Such high weight many times normal body weight can be dangerous if you are not properly operating your joints. I rarely have pain in my knees though, and I plan to continue with my lifestyle unless pain commences. If I ever feel that I push myself too hard or far, I immediately take extra rest depending on the intensity of lifting or a hike. The main thing is...do what your body is telling you to do. The human body is amazingly efficient at repairing damaged tissue, but if pushed too far, the repurcussions of exceeding the limit can be devastating. I work for an orthopedic company and I test knee implants every week. I have seen first hand what can happen, but I will not live my life in fear of what could happen.

The Hog
11-12-2004, 07:46
Wow, it's nice to know I'm not the only one. I notice the crunchy sound coming from my left knee when I walk down stairs. There is no pain associated with the sound; however, I do notice some tenderness when I jog at a faster than normal pace. There has been little, if any, change in these symptoms over 20 years.

My approach has been to jog slowly on dirt roads in training, and to carry less and less weight when hiking. I've been thinking that perhaps I should see a specialist, but am kind of afraid they'll tell me to stop jogging and stop hiking. Question to you doctors out there, do you think I should see a specialist?

IMO, pushing the pace when hiking downhill is a real no-no. In fact, pushing the pace at all often gives me problems.

11-12-2004, 14:05
I think I have spent my life thinking about my knees ! I had my right knee cap cut off by a riding lawn mower and my left one crushed between two cars. I also have degenerated cartlidge. The dr has always told me that it is rough places on my cartlidge that cause the rough feel and noise. I have solved 95% of it after 25 years. I went to the gym two years ago and made my quadriceps strong and my legs strong in general. It has completely changed me knees in so many ways. Also I would definitely suggest lowering your pack weight.