START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

Do Your Joints Pop?

  • 1 of 2
Do Your Joints Pop?

By Kelle Walsh, Experience Life

Have you ever heard a crackle in your knees as you stood up from a squat? Do your shoulders creak during lateral raises? Or maybe youíve heard a ďpopĒ deep inside your hip socket when you ease into Warrior II pose.

These cracking, creaking, popping sounds coming from your joints can be disconcerting, even embarrassing, but medical experts say most of them are harmless.

Normal movement causes some cracking and creaking in even the healthiest joints and cartilage. Some noises, though, are the result of cartilage damage from injury, loss of muscle tissue or conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Understanding what causes joint sounds is the first step in determining whether the racket in your body is just incidental noise or something that requires medical attention. In either case, learning how to better support your joints, especially as you age, may quell some of the clatter.

Totally Normal Noises
One of the most common sources of noise is gas ó but not the intestinal kind. The joint capsule is filled with synovial fluid, which lubricates the joint and provides nourishment to the cells that form cartilage. The fluid contains dissolved gases, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen. When the joint ligaments are stretched, either intentionally (knuckle cracking) or by accident (arching your back), the pressure within the capsule changes and it releases carbon dioxide in the form of bubbles. The cracking sound you hear comes from those gas bubbles bursting. When these bubbles burst, people experience a sense of spaciousness within the joint and a temporary increase in its range of motion.

Another common cracking or popping sound doesnít come from within the joint at all. During movement, tendons and ligaments that cross the joint can temporarily shift position or drag across a bone. When they return to their normal position, they make a snapping noise. You may have heard this in your knees when you rose from a sitting position, or in your neck when you turned your head. Itís also common in the shoulders. Loss of muscle mass from aging hastens this effect because more bone is exposed. This sounds scarier than it is; itís actually a normal and harmless occurrence.

Not-So-Normal Noises
Something called crepitus, on the other hand, is not so benign. It might manifest as a crunching sound when you bend or extend your knees and is often described as sounding like Rice Krispies popping in a cereal bowl. Crepitus occurs when there is damage to cartilage within the joint. Sometimes the damage is due to overuse or aging; sometimes itís a byproduct of injury, such as a tear in the ligament or cartilage. It can also be an early sign of arthritis.

“Cartilage doesnít have pain sensors, so we can injure it and not feel pain. Any ‘grinding’ or ‘clunky’ noises should be checked by a doctor,” says Raymond Brodeur, DC, PhD, adjunct faculty of osteopathic manipulative medicine at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Next: What to Listen For

  • 1 of 2

Read more: Fitness, Health, ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Megan, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

18 comments

+ add your own
2:41AM PST on Feb 2, 2010

I crack my elbows and knees, and recently my right wrist. i do this because after a while of not doing it, it feels very uncomfortable, and it feels like i just have to crack them. Sometimes i can't go 10 seconds without cracking them, sometimes two minutes. I think i really need help because it is starting to hurt in my wrist and elbow. Any info that would help would be appreciated.
cheap r4 ds

6:46PM PST on Dec 21, 2009

I got that. I think it's hereditary.

3:16PM PST on Nov 20, 2009

My knees hurt from running and always crack in the wintertime. It makes me paranoid that I might have arthritis even though I'm in my teens. Is that possible?

2:04PM PDT on Oct 15, 2009

I assume I'm just getting old when the joints start a-snappin'.

2:23PM PDT on Oct 11, 2009

Interesting article. One word of warning I would give is that if you have a family history of diabetes, I would be cautious about glucosamine and chondroitin suppliments. There have been some suggestions that they are linked to developing diabetes. I don’t think anything has been proven, but these are fairly new supplements, so some caution may be called for.

8:29PM PDT on Oct 10, 2009

So,say you go see a Dr. for all this. What can they do for you? If there is damage occuring, can it be stopped without surgery?. Drugs can be given for pain and inflamation, but does that set real healing in motion? I'm sure most of them mean well, but I just think there's probably not too much they can do, and it's very expensive anyway.What new treatments are out there for inflamatory arthritis, numbness in the feet, occational deep pain in the hip joints? I'm already very much into natural things and healthy life styles, don't take over the counter drugs very often, and haven't been to a Dr. in years. I have no insurance and can't afford it anyway. Sometimes, I think that's why I have so few health issues. But, I like to keep an open mind about things.After all, Dr's used to think that fiber had absolutly nothing to do with bowel health, and assured us that our skin did not absorb things.Modern bio science is reverseing a lot of what was previously believed.

9:14PM PDT on Oct 9, 2009

My knees cracking in my late teens and 20's was the first sign of hereditary osteoarthritis. It was such a classic case, my rhuematologist loved me!

7:32PM PDT on Oct 9, 2009

John, see your doctor.
Find out if Physical therapy or simply increasing strength/activity can help or if you need a more agressive approach,i.e. surgery.
Keep the body strong and flxible, with a doctor's supervision if needed, is a wonderful key to feeling better.

6:35PM PDT on Oct 9, 2009

the older I get my knees hurt so much at times and are very stiff, if I get down on my knee ot knee's to do anything I need to make sure I have a chair or walking stick to help me get back up.

4:53PM PDT on Oct 9, 2009

interesting article.

so far i have had the meniscus surgery for my right knee and am now awaiting the rotator surgery for my right arm.

getting older presents challenges. :::::smile:::::

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Thank you

Great tips - I will also add use a fuel additive www.danabase.mysyntek.com. Xtreme Fuel Treatment is…

Tumeric is a gift as are all the spices mentioned, thank you.

Regardless I enjoy coffee and I am sure it does a lot more good than harm.Where would we be without …

Simply love all of these. Kathryn did a great job laying out the infographic, clean and easy to re…

Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.