Why Did I Have a Loud Pop in Knee Followed by Pain?

Loud Pop in Knee Followed by Pain
Knee noise by itself, like squeaking or cracking, generally isn’t a problem if pain doesn’t accompany the noise. Knee noise without pain is called crepitus. However, if you hear a loud pop in knee followed by pain, you likely injured yourself. If you’re suffering from knee pain and a loss of function after a loud pop in knee followed by pain, call the Pain Relief Center at 214-709-1904 and we’ll take care of you. Our pain management clinic Dallas TX is one of the region’s most experienced pain management providers.

Possible Causes of Loud Pop in Knee Followed by Pain

There’s definitely a major difference between the slight crackling sounds of crepitus and a loud pop in knee followed by pain. The latter indicates you possibly suffered a major knee injury like the ones listed below.

ACL Tear

The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is one of four ligaments in the knee that connects your thigh bone to your shin bone. ACL tears are generally caused by sudden knee twisting motions and are very common injuries among athletes. Many patients who suffer ACL tears often say that their injury began with a loud pop in knee followed by pain. Typical symptoms of an ACL tear include:
  • Intense pain
  • Knee instability
  • Swelling or stiffness
  • Bruising
  • Limping
  • Inability stand or walk

PCL Injury

The second of four knee ligaments that people can injure is the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament). A PCL injury is far less common than an ACL injury because it’s generally stronger than the ACL. Still, PCL injuries happen, usually from hitting the front of the knee or falling on a bent knee. Patients with this type of injury may not hear a loud popping sound like with an ACL injury. Symptoms of a PCL injury include:

MCL Injury

The MCL (medial collateral ligament) is another knee ligament that you can tear. Similarly to an ACL tear, patients will generally hear a loud pop in knee followed by pain with an MCL injury. This ligament can tear when something hits the knee on its outer side. Patients may experience these symptoms:
  • Intense pain
  • Feeling like the knee is wobbling and about to give out when standing
  • Swelling
  • Locking of the knee joint
  • Tenderness around the inner part of the knee

LCL Injury

The fourth knee ligament that people can tear is the LCL (lateral collateral ligament). This type of injury is generally caused by a direct hit to the inside of the knee. Patients will generally experience these symptoms with an LCL injury:
  • Intense pain
  • Swelling, especially on the outside of the knee
  • Feeling like the knee is going to give out when standing
  • Stiffness
  • Locking of the knee joint

Meniscus Tear

Another type of knee injury that can cause a loud pop in knee followed by pain is a meniscus tear. In fact, Americans suffer from approximately 500,000 meniscus tears every year. The knee meniscus exists to provide cushion between the thigh bone and the shin bone. Similarly to a torn ACL, people can generally tear their meniscus by suddenly twisting their knee. Additionally, deep squatting or any other activity that puts too much pressure on the knees can cause meniscus tears. Symptoms generally include:
  • Intense pain
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty moving the knee, standing, or walking
  • Inability to move the knee in its full range of motion
  • Locking of the knee joint
  • Feeling like the knee is about to give out when standing

Cartilage Injury

Similarly to meniscus, cartilage also acts as a cushion that prevents bones from rubbing against each other. The difference between the two is that the meniscus is sandwiched between two bone ends, and the cartilage covers the bone ends. Knee cartilage injuries can happen through an accident, arthritis, or joint overuse. Symptoms generally include:
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Feeling like your knee is grinding or clicking when you move it
  • Difficulty standing or walking
  • Locking of the knee joint

Patellar Tendon Tear

Another injury that may cause a loud popping sound is a patellar tendon tear. The patellar tendon is in charge of connecting the kneecap to the shin bone and can tear from landing wrong after a jump or from falling. Additionally, patellar tendon tears can happen if a person already struggles with weak tendons or patellar tendinitis. Common symptoms of this injury include:
  • Pain right under the kneecap
  • Feeling like the kneecap isn’t staying in place
  • Swelling and bruising at the front of the knee
  • An abnormal soft spot around the kneecap where the tendon should be in tact
  • Difficulty standing or walking

Knee Arthritis

Knee arthritis is a condition, not an injury, that causes a gradual loss of cartilage in the knee joint. This condition is also referred to as osteoarthritis. However, it can cause popping noises and pain. Other common symptoms include:
  • Gradual increase in pain over the course of weeks or months
  • Swelling or tenderness around the knee
  • Locking of the knee joint
  • Poor range of motion
  • Knee deformities

When Should I See a Doctor for a Loud Pop in Knee Followed by Pain?

If you hear little popping and crackling noises in your knees that don’t cause much pain or discomfort, there’s no reason to rush to the doctor. However, if an accident causes a loud pop in your knee that makes you practically bed bound with pain, you should certainly see a doctor. Additionally, pain that doesn’t improve with at-home remedies can indicate a more serious injury. It’s important to understand when to go to the emergency room for knee pain.

At Home Treatment for Knee Injuries

Maybe your knee hurts, but the pain is manageable and you’re still able to walk and move without many issues. Or maybe you just got home from the doctor with instructions to be careful and take care of yourself. No matter the scenario, you should consider these at-home treatments for your knee injury.

RICE Method

The RICE method stands for: rest, ice, compress, and elevate. Resting with your leg elevated allows your injured muscles, tendons, and ligaments to recover. Too much movement can cause more pain and make the healing process even slower. Also, the elevation can aid in pain and swelling relief. Icing your knee for 15 to 20 minutes a few times a day can also help relieve pain and swelling from your injury. Lastly, wrapping your knee with something like an ACE bandage can prevent swelling while keeping everything immobilized.

Pain Medications

While you’re recovering from a knee injury at home, you’ll certainly want to manage your pain as much as possible. Your doctor will likely tell you to take NSAIDs like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen. Additionally, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections (steroid shots) and hyaluronic acid injections.


Your ability to move without a whole lot of pain will depend on the type of injury you sustained. No one is expecting you to go on a 10 mile run every day while you recover, but it’s important to move your knee around a little if possible. You may do this through a few little walks around your house throughout the day, or through various stretches approved and recommended by your doctor. Rest and exercise often go hand in hand when it comes to pain relief, healing, and improved knee function. If you’re an athlete, you should not resume vigorous exercise until:
  • Your doctor says it’s okay
  • You can fully bend and straighten your knee without pain
  • Walking, running, and jumping no longer cause pain
  • All swelling is gone
  • Your injured knee and uninjured knee have similar strength and function
Resuming vigorous exercise before your knee has fully healed can certainly cause permanent damage.

How is a Knee Injury Diagnosed?

If you do decide to head to the doctor after a loud pop in knee followed by pain, you should expect to undergo a variety of tests. Firstly though, a doctor will look for swelling and bruising while asking you questions about your accident. They will also try to bend and rotate your knee a bit to see how it moves and where the pain is. Lastly, you will probably undergo either an X-ray, a CT scan, or an MRI so that your doctor can get a clear picture of your injury. X-rays and CT scans will generally show broken bones while an MRI will generally show any ligament or cartilage damage.

Other Treatments for Knee Injuries

Depending on what kind of knee injury you sustain, you may need surgery. If you injured your LCL or MCL, you may not need surgery. But if you injured your ACL or PCL or tore your meniscus, you will likely need surgery.
Your doctor may also recommend regular physical therapy, wearing a brace, and using crutches or a cane until you regain full knee function.

Call The Pain Relief Center Today

If you’re recovering from any type of knee injury, the Pain Relief Center wants to help by managing your pain and promoting healing. We have a variety of treatments available to help you get back on your feet, literally, after you experienced a loud pop in knee followed by pain. Call us today at 214-709-1904.


The most critical step on the path to recovery is finding a pain management doctor who can address your pain management needs successfully. The Pain Relief Center and its five specialized institutes are dedicated to meeting any and all of a patient’s needs. Located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Dr. Rodriguez and his friendly staff will help you along the path to recovery.

Our new center in Dallas is part of a nationwide development by Pain Relief Centers, geared to providing individualized and comprehensive healing and pain management services with unprecedented levels of compassion, care, and comfort for each patient.

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