Understanding patellar crepitus causes and test that can be done to diagnose the underlying problem is important if you want your patellar to always be at its best. Patellar crepitus can be described as a crunching noise that emanates from the patella, which is also called the kneecap. The noise can be audible enough to be heard without any assisting devices such as a stethoscope. Patellar crepitus can have different causes based on how discomforting it is. Considerations such as the degree of immobility it creates, severity of pain, are made so that the exact cause of the crepitus can be understood.
Patellar Crepitus Causes
Patella crepitus could arise from a mechanical strain. This kind of crepitus is not associated with pain, and it usually subsides when it is left alone. It is experience when there’s an abrupt movement of the knee joint, especially from a position of rest. A fine example is when one gets back on their feet after a prolonged squatting period. The other cause of patellar crepitus is disease, which is characterized by the thinning of the protective cartilage that makes articulation at the joint a tad more difficult.
In this latter cause, the sound is produced from the grinding of the tip of the femur with the kneecap. The sound, however minor, is distracting, and does not improve on its own without any intervention. Pathological causes of patellar crepitus are almost always associated with pain. As such, it becomes increasingly hard to use make movement without complaining of discomfort. Patellar crepitus could also be caused by injury. Any moderate to severe trauma experienced by the patella could lead to a fracture, and this would cause noticeable crepitus, associated with a lot of pain as well.
Patellar Crepitus Test
It needs to be said that patellar crepitus is not a disease or a condition. It’s only a symptom that is indicative of an underlying problem. As such, a test is required to determine the cause of the crackling sounds, so that the best treatment approach can be taken. Knee-motion tests are done to determine whether full motion of the joint can be had without the crepitus. A physician may use a stethoscope to listen to the nature of the crepitus crunching sounds to have a better idea of what to expect. An X-ray might be ordered to show if there has been any recent damage to the patella, or knee-joint as a whole.
If it is established that the sounds emanating are not related to any trauma, arthritis has to be eliminated from the table. It is the most common cause of degenerative cartilages and a simple blood test will confirm whether there are any antibodies present.
Even when patellar crepitus does not come with any pain, it is still discomforting, especially if the noise is made with every stride you make. You may need to see a doctor if it does not go away on its own, or if you start picking up signs of knee joint inflammation or swelling. Surgery is sometimes done to treat the crepitus knee symptom, but it’s rarely a first option.