What kind of brace are you using? is it a custom knee brace if so what type? ACL, PCL, Patella stabilizing..., or is it a store purchased brace, if so what is it made from neoprene? Does it have metal lateral supports? The fact that you can play aggressive basketball w/o difficulty is good. Cracking is not necessarily bad. The popping sound you hear from joints is release of gas, pressure from the joint. (No you will not get arthritis from "cracking" your knuckles). Sometimes after an inury to a joint the surrounding muscles weaken and the joint absords more stress then it's designed to do causing pain. Also when the quad muscles weaken you can devolop a patella (knee cap) tracking problem which could cause the craking or grinding feeling of your patella. It would be difficult to determine a Meniscus injuy from an xray. you'd basically be looking at the spacing between the femoral condyle and tibial condyle which if acute could be misleading secondarily to swelling. There are a number of manual tests that could performed to determine the likeleness of a meniscus injury but the best diagnosis is from an MRI. Most refferal's are only good for 30 days. if it's been longer than 30 days since your doctor as asked you to get an MRI you may want to go back and talk to him to get another refferal to have an MRI performed. If you don't hear anything after a week of getting the referral, call them! Even if you do have a Menisus injury your best bet would be to do colsed chain strengthening. This type of strengthening is done by exercising so that your feet are always in contact with a hard surface e.g. leg press, standing squats (light weight, high reps). strengthen quads; hamstring; hip abductors, rotators and extensors and your core, core is not your abs. Core is transvers abdominus. Do planks flat and sideways. If you do not know how to do these SAFELY, seek the help of licensed professional e.g trainer or PT. I'd consult your doctor first before anything though. Good luck!
Thank you, this is very informative!
as for the knee brace, i had that huge plastic one with the angles selector, which mine was set at 15 degrees (restraining my leg to be fully straight). I had that for about a month. Then latter brace is purchased from a sport clinic that is a sleeve with straps. Im not sure exactly how to describe it but, here it goes, it has plastic lateral support and a "donut" shape that keeps the knee cap from "tracking" if that is the correct term.