Do your knees sound like the Rice Krispies cereal? Do they snap, crackle, or pop when you move them? This actually pretty common occurrence happens to many people as they exercise or move. Why does it happen? What should you do about it? Read on for more information.

Rice Krispie Knees

Unknown man holding his knee(with edited rice on the knee)

Rice Krispie knees may be a little disconcerting, and even sometimes painful. You may be wondering what is going on and what to do about it.  Your knees popping and making noise when they move actually has a scientific name. When your knees move and there is a popping, cracking, grating, scraping, or snapping noise (etc,) that is called “crepitus.”

And, crepitus doesn’t just occur in your knees. You can get that rice krispie sound in any of your joints, such as your neck, shoulders, spine, or hips. Those times when you’ve popped your knuckles are also crepitus. Crepitus can affect everyone but typically becomes more common as people age and get older.

Crepitus happens most often when when there’s air bubbles inside the joint. When the joint moves the air bubbles pop, causing that rice krispie sound. Crepitus can also occur when a ligament or tendon snaps over a bone. In some cases crepitus can be due to arthritis.

Crepitus is a common occurrence and isn’t a problem, unless you feel pain. Yes, it can be a weird sound for your knees or other joints to make, but most forms of crepitus are harmless. Our bodies make noises, such as your gut rumbling, your heart beating, ringing in your ears, burping, or hiccups. Crepitus is just another sound that our bodies make, and shouldn’t be something to overly worry about.

However, if you feel pain accompanied with the sound at all, you need to go see a doctor as something more serious might be going on.

What to do for crepitus?

Old man in pain because of his knee

Your knees sounding like breakfast cereal may not be a problem, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want the sound to go away. The noise your joints sometimes make may be a little disturbing, but there are some things you can do to lessen crepitus.

  • Food

Keeping your diet full of anti-inflammatory foods and eating lots of healthy fats, like avocados or omega 3 fatty acids, can help reduce inflammation and joint pain. Healthy fats may also help lessen the rice krispie sound in your knees and other joints. Adding collagen is another great supplement for your joints. Collagen is essential for healthy skin, bones, tendons, and joints. It is a lubricant for your joints allowing them to move smoothly and without any pain. Supplementing both with collagen and omega 3 fatty acids is very helpful for your joints.

Other food to help your joints stay healthy, move smoothly, and lessen crepitus includes eating tons of fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water every day, ditching sugary food and other junk food, and maintaining a healthy body weight. Losing weight will put less pressure on your joints and knees, which will reduce or eliminate the popping sounds.

  • Exercise

Another highly important factor to go into lessening the crepitus sound is to exercise. Exercise is a great way to reduce inflammation, improve mobility, aid the lymphatic system to removing waste or build up of liquids, and decrease joint pain.

You want to strengthen the muscles surrounding your noisy joints, in order to protect them, as well as doing a lot of low impact exercises like yoga, swimming, or walking to alleviate pain, reduce the frequency and intensity of the popping noises, as well as relieving the pressure on the joints. Choosing exercises that will increase the range of motion in your joints is also really beneficial to reducing stiffness and opening up your joints.

Other ideas you can try to alleviate the noise or pain of your joints would be to take a hot shower, soak in an Epsom salt bath, ice the joint, or get a massage.

Yoga to help crepitus

Jen of Let's Practice Yoga doing triangle yoga pose

Yoga is a fantastic form of exercise that is low-impact which is perfect for the joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Many people practice yoga to help alleviate knee pain and increase balance, range of motion, mobility, and strength.

Focus on simple yoga moves that will help open up your hips and joints, increase range of motion, and gently strengthen the surrounding muscles next to your knees or other popping joints. Poses like the Triangle pose, Mountain pose, chair pose, or locust pose are great for your knees and joints.

Remember to not skip out on the warm ups in order to gently prepare your joints for the yoga ahead, and if needed modify the stretches and poses to fit your needs.

This article talks about many yoga stretches and poses that are good for knee pain specifically.

When to get professional help

Professional helping out patient with knee-pain

As stated before, crepitus is a normal and natural occurrence and is something that you typically don’t need to worry too much about. Your joints might make noise as they move or as air bubbles inside pop. Crepitus by itself is not a big deal, however if you feel pain it does become a big deal.

If your knees or other joints feel pain accompanied with the rice krispie sound then you do need to get medical help because something could be wrong. The noise can be paired with swelling, tenderness or soreness of the joint, stiffness, or pain and in cases where any of those simultaneously occur with the noise you should go see a doctor.

Crepitus may also be a early sign of osteoarthritis, and your doctor can check for that as well.

If your knee hurts, swells, prevents or decreases mobility when it pops, stop what you are doing and seek medical attention.