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Grinding sound from knee!

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I've been riding my MTB fairly regularly (about 50 miles a week) over the past 4 months. Thankfully I have experienced little - if any - pain from my joints, muscles, etc. over this time. Recently, however, I've noticed a "grinding" sound coming from my knee when walking up stairs. It causes NO pain but the sound is horrible - like bone scraping bone. Any ideas what may be causing this and should I be worried about it? Thanks.
post #2 of 20

Re: Grinding sound from knee!

Quote:
Originally posted by mmpc001
I've been riding my MTB fairly regularly (about 50 miles a week) over the past 4 months. Thankfully I have experienced little - if any - pain from my joints, muscles, etc. over this time. Recently, however, I've noticed a "grinding" sound coming from my knee when walking up stairs. It causes NO pain but the sound is horrible - like bone scraping bone. Any ideas what may be causing this and should I be worried about it? Thanks.
My guess is you may be experiencing a little Chondromalacia.

Try this link to find out more about it:

http://healthlink.mcw.edu/article/926052680.html
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply, Cipher. I notice the sound has lessened or gone away completely now after a couple days of walking on a treadmill. I think I might've overdone it on my last ride and will have to be a bit more careful about that. Fortunately I didn't have any of the pain mentioned in the link you provided.
post #4 of 20
The funny thing is cycling is prescribed by P.T.'s as good (low impact) exercise to 'treat' Chondromalacia... (I guess anything in excess can lead to trouble).
post #5 of 20
A little info, I suffer from chondromalacia and it had started the same way. Be careful not to put too much impact on the knees. like Cipher mentioned biking is the low impact and good for the knees.
post #6 of 20

Re: Grinding sound from knee!

Quote:
Originally posted by mmpc001
I've been riding my MTB fairly regularly (about 50 miles a week) over the past 4 months. Thankfully I have experienced little - if any - pain from my joints, muscles, etc. over this time. Recently, however, I've noticed a "grinding" sound coming from my knee when walking up stairs. It causes NO pain but the sound is horrible - like bone scraping bone. Any ideas what may be causing this and should I be worried about it? Thanks.

Hi mmpc001.

I want to take an opportunity to tell you something that I can only WISH I would have been told years ago. Do NOT take what you described lightly!

One of the first ways of diagnosing Chondromalacia is by a creaking in the knees while climbing stairs. This is considered a sure-tell sign that things are going wrong. The creaking may have gone away, but it usually comes back. Another sign of it is if your knees start feeling “stiff”. This is usually much harder to detect, because someone that is trying to grow in their athletics is usually used to the feeling of having places in their body feel stiff. Hence, it’s very hard to know if your knees are responding the way they should or not. If, at any time along the way, you go to a movie or sit for a few hours on an airplane and you feel your knees are stiff afterwards (even if only for a few minutes), this is a huge sign that what you’re doing is slowly damaging your knees. This damage is irreversible and can haunt you into your old age (for the record, I’m not that old ). The more you ignore it the more irreversible damage you will do.

Even advanced stages of Chondromalacia won’t necessarily cause you a lot of pain. In a nutshell, Chondromalacia is mistracking of your kneecap with in the knee’s grove. This causes excessive rubbing of the underside of the kneecap with the outer edges of the knee joint. This rubbing will slowly turn the cartilage under the kneecap from smooth to rough. And that is what causes the creaking. When this roughness rubs against anything, it causes what’s underneath to become inflamed. And that’s when the pain starts.

A few things cause this mistracking of the kneecap: One is Biodynamics. Your genetic makeup could be that you have an excessive Q-Angle and/or Antiverted Hips. I have this problem and am still learning what is best about dealing with it from a biomechanical point of view. Some times it’s because your inner quad muscle is unproportionally weak compared to your outer quads. That can be corrected by strengthening your VMO (inner quad muscle) via certain exercises. Ironically, cycling is a great way of strengthening that muscle.

This problem is much more common in runners (which is where my problem began) and people tht play big impact sports like Basketball and Volleyball. However when it comes to cycling, the problem is often due to the following reasons.

1) Over exercising – You may want to become a great cyclist in 20 rides or less, but take it easy. Improve your pace/mileage gradually (recommended is by no more then 15% per week).
2) Seat Height – Ensure your seat height is optimal. Chondromalacia is often caused from a seat being too low.
3) Seat Fore/Aft position – If you put your crank at about the 5 O’Clock position where your cranks are perfectly lined up with the seat tube and the ball of your foot is on the center of the pedal, you want to be able to drop a string with a weight from the front of your kneecap and the string should bisect your pedal axle.
4) Push easy gears. Spin those legs and don’t try using brute force. Your cadence should hover around 90 and up. You’ll become a better athlete this way and a much better cyclist. Plus, your knees will thank you!
5) Lastly, if you’re using a clipless pedal system, ensure your cleats line up with your natural foot alignment. I’m writing such a book here that I’ll have to leave it up to you to research that position. My personal recommendation is to purchase speedplay pedals. If you buy the zeros, ensure you adjust them to have the full range of float. The other speedplays don’t limit your float so adjustment isn’t important.

I happened to ruin my knees partially because my biomechanics are less then great, and I choose sports that didn’t compliment that fact. Now, I have no choice but to focus on every knee friendly detail. However it took two years of solid training before I noticed anything like "creaking". You've just noticed it in 4 months. Ensure you do your research BEFORE your knees make you do so!

(sorry for the book...)
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Postie, thank you for the wealth of information, you've given me a bunch of things to look at. The information on biomechanics is especially interesting - one of my legs (the one with the noisy knee) is actually slightly misshapen. At any rate, I'll be sure to keep a close eye and ear on it - don't want to do the permanent damage you mentioned...
post #8 of 20
Oh... so that's wat it is

I've had that grinding noise from time to time... but it goes away....

Ah well.. glad I checked here
post #9 of 20
This sounds like my issue. My knee first started making noise in 1997 after I restarted step classes. It didn't hurt so while careful not to go too high on the steps I didn't do too much about it.

Last Columbus Day, I did a marthon session scraping rosin paper off my kitchen floor (I love working on old houses). Most of my weight and pressure was on my knees as I was scraping with both hands. (no knee pads, dumb I know ). I knew I'd be sore afterwards so I didn't think anything of it. After a few days my right knee got better but I had pain under my left knee. I couldn't tuck it undermyself while sitting (OK, I know that's not good either <sigh>). And the noise seemed to get worse. I suspended leg workouts. When it wasn't better by early December I went to the doctor who suspected a stress fracture and advised a few more weeks of rest. When it was no better Jan 1, I went for an MRI, then to an orthopedic surgeon , I was told I had patella pain and it's not uncommon.

He said even if I wanted surgery he would not recommend it until later this year, when I had exhausted all other options. And sent me downstairs to PT.

She claims I'm fixable which I'm happy about. I am not as diligent about the exercises twice a day like I was the first week but we're both seeing some improvement.

Like someone else said, she told me my inner thigh is weak on that side so I'm doing a number of exercises for that. Plus stretching for my hips.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed. So far the biking is doing OK with it. I have to be careful on high treadmill inclines. I hope I can stil blade, I don't remember problems the few times I went out last summer but that was before I killed it so badly.

Glad to know I'm not the only one with this issue! Now I have to see what pedals are on the new bike I get.

Diane
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Glad you're seeing some improvement, Diane. From the research I've been doing over the past month, it seems knee conditions can be difficult to diagnose properly. I've been off my bike since starting this thread and not liking it one bit. I plan to see a doctor in the next week and - in the meantime - have just been walking and swimming.

My hope is that the doc tells me I'm okay to ride as long as I take it easy. My plan then will be to take my bike to a shop I trust and make sure the fit is okay.

Hoping for the best here - and wishing you continued healing!
post #11 of 20
Well, she saw more improvement than I expected as she told me I was done with her! I really didn't expect that and was not ready for it.

I still want to ask her if I can resume a step class at a low level, I suspect I can resume anything as long as I have no pain.

She gave me a few other exercises and cut me a piece of a band to do them, some that sort of mimic a blading motion. I may try that next week.

So far no pain while on the bike but I am sure my seat is not perfect on it, it's my old Huffy and I put on an even older woman's seat for more comfort but not sure it's adjusted right. I took last night off.

I also wonder if it will feel better after losing the weight I've gained at my job. And when I get my leg strength back, I've really stopped squats and the like.

Oddly enough, I was doing light leg extensions (on a machine) instead of presses, and she said that was the total opposite of what my injury required. So....... I have to get back into the swing of things!

Tonight I'm headed to the LBS to try some more new bikes.

Hope your doctor has good news as well. I'm really glad I insisted on a MRI!

Diane

<edit - fixed spelling errors though probably missed a couple lol>
post #12 of 20
I have the same grinding from the knees, doesn't hurt one bit. The only worry is the sound every time I walk downstairs or crouch down. I have been told many things, like a weak inner thigh, getting orthotics, swimming....you name it.

I have also been told not to worry about it...........and thats what I plan to do.
post #13 of 20
I was told not to worry about it either, "old age", etc. Until I finished if off working on the house. Then it really hurt, hadn't hurt at all previously. I had it in the left knee for 6 years before that happened.

I like being active and what scared me is that last summer I started kayaking and mtn biking and I am trying to get away from a desk job (which for an active person, sitting for 8 hrs a day really hurts!). I can't bear the thought of being limited physically at 38.

I will say I don't get much noise going downstairs, it's upstairs that creaks.

Diane
post #14 of 20

Re: Grinding sound from knee!

I have had knee problems myself, which I guess is hardly surprising as I've been doing sports activities for years. I sometimes hear a very slight grind in my knees when bending down but it's only slight. My physio told me it was basically worn cartiliage but added that it's not that serious since these days they can clean the cartiliage up via simple surgery.
My own experience had been that some people cope less well with certain exercises than others. Cycling doen't bother my knees at all and squats are fine. However, running has negatively affected the back of my knee in the past, causing it to jolt.
Glucosamine and chrondroitin is thought to be especially helpful where cartialage is concerned so you might try about 2000 ml a day and give it 2 - 3 months to kick in. It might also help to check if you have any imbalance in the knee area and look at ways of strengthening the joint.


Quote:
Originally posted by mmpc001
I've been riding my MTB fairly regularly (about 50 miles a week) over the past 4 months. Thankfully I have experienced little - if any - pain from my joints, muscles, etc. over this time. Recently, however, I've noticed a "grinding" sound coming from my knee when walking up stairs. It causes NO pain but the sound is horrible - like bone scraping bone. Any ideas what may be causing this and should I be worried about it? Thanks.
post #15 of 20
Of course a doctor will tell you that noisy knees don't mean a thing and they won't do anything until is swells or you lose mobility or pain all the time.

In the meantime, my left has clicked for 2 years loud enough that the guy next to me can hear it on a 'quiet climb'.

It bugs me just like a clicking bottom bracket, but it ain't slowin' me down.
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