Sounds Reveal Secrets to Knee Health


ATLANTA, Ga. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Creaks … crackle … crunch … loud sounds from your knee are usually never a good sign, but what about sounds you can’t hear? A researcher has created a device that can give you insight on your knee health.

Megan Denham, a senior research associate at Georgia Tech Research Institute and Center for Advanced Communications Policy, GA Tech shared with Ivanhoe, “Over the last six years or so, I started running more and just working out more, just trying to be more, take care of my body better, and unfortunately my knees were not very happy with that.”

There’s a lot of wear and tear we put on our knees. Frequent knee pain affects about one in four adults and professor and former discus thrower Omer Inan knows all about it.

“I started to notice that I would have sometimes these sounds and kind of creaking effects coming from my knees,” shared Inan, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Tech.

(Read Full Interview)

Now he is the mastermind behind this wearable knee sensor, which uses microphones to measure the vibrations of the surface of the skin and listen in on the sounds the knee makes.

“You have to realize that your joints making sounds are normal,” explained Caitlin Teague, a Ph.D. student at Georgia Tech.

The team did a study where they compared healthy knees versus injured knees.

“What we found that an injured knee has more variability in their sounds,” elaborated professor Inan.

They hope to use this technology to help doctors determine whether a joint is healthy or if it needs more therapy.

Professor Inan shared, “I think that by having these devices out there, we can empower patients and their families and their caregivers to have better data on the long-term basis about how their knees are doing.”

Getting everyone off on the right step.

Inan says healthy young kids without any knee problems have almost no sounds produced by their knees, at least the sounds could be quiet enough where the device can’t even pick it up. Healthy people age 18 and older will most likely produce sounds in their knees.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.

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BACKGROUND: Hearing that snap, crackle, pop when you bend your knees on occasion doesn’t necessarily mean you have arthritis. However, it could mean that you are headed toward having arthritis, which is a joint disease that damages cartilage and bone. In a 2017 study, 92.1 million adults had doctor-diagnosed arthritis or arthritis symptoms. In a new study, middle-aged and older adults who said their knees often crackled were more likely to develop arthritis symptoms in the next year. Of those who complained their knees were “always” noisy, 11 percent developed knee arthritis symptoms within a year.

(Sources:, Jafarzadeh 2017, )

DIAGNOSING: If you have crunching of the knees and no pain it could be crepitus. Gas can build up in the areas surrounding the joint, forming tiny bubbles. When you bend your knee, some of the bubbles burst, and ligaments may snap or pop. If you think you might have arthritis in your knee your doctor will assess your overall physical health and may ask you to stand while they take X-rays. They may also order a bone scan or an MRI. Just know that there are three different types of arthritis that can occur in your knees. Osteoarthritis (OA), a progressive condition that slowly wears away joint cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory condition that can strike at any age and post-traumatic arthritis develops following an injury to the knee.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Omer Inan, PhD was a three-time NCAA All-American disc thrower at Stanford University and with a background as a chief engineer for a professional audio company in the San Francisco Bay area his interest in dissecting the sounds in his knees was stoked. So, he and his team at Georgia Tech University developed an acoustic knee band with tiny microphones and vibration sensors that can listen to and measure sounds inside the knee joint. They look at the graph of the recorded audio, which resembles an EKG and match it to the joints range of motion to see exactly where the knee creaks and pops. Children with juvenile idopathic arthritis  (JIA) could benefit from this device in the short-term. There are roughly 50,000 kids in the U.S. who have JIA. It could be used to study joint sounds, diagnose and track their progress and see how well the treatments are working. Also, if we get injured it could tell us when it’s safe to exercise again, or if you need more time to recover. “The clues are there,” Inan says, “We just have to listen for them”.

(Sources: Omer Inan, PhD,





If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Omer Inan, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Read the entire Q&A