Cracking Joints

Overview

In layman’s term, Cracking joints is manipulating joints to produce distinct cracking or popping sound. It is sometimes performed by chiropractors, physical therapists, and osteopaths. The cracking of the joints, mainly in the knuckles, was believed to lead to arthritis and other joint issues. However, this is not supported by medical research nowadays.

Painful joint popping can be one symptom of the early stages of arthritis, bursitis, or tendinitis. Arthritis is characterized by joint inflammation, which will cause a painful pop as the bones of the joint start to rub together.

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Symptoms

Also known as Crepitus, joint sounds can be a normal part of your movements. Many people experience popping joints when they get older. Some of the symptoms you will notice are:

  • Cracking or popping whenever bending the elbow or knees
  • The crunching sounds in knee whenever you move up the stairs or kneel
  • Grinding or cracking sounds or crunching sensation whenever you are moving your shoulders
  • Continual or occasional swelling around the joint regions

Causes

Most of the time, cracking sound in joints seems harmless. It happens whenever the air seeps into soft tissues around the joint area. So, when you bend your joints, the air bubbles will burst, creating cracking sounds. While most of these sounds are harmless, some crepitus can cause a problem. If the sound comes with pain, then visiting a physiotherapist is the main cause. Some of the causes are:

  • Osteoarthritis:

Arthritis is one common condition where the cartilage starts to rub away and leaving the bones unprotected and causing inflammation. Whenever the bone grinds and rubs, it results in stiffness and pain, which worsens with activity.

  • PFS:

Mostly stated as runner’s knee, PFS will cause the Crepitus along with pain behind the knee cap area. It takes place when you increase the activity level and mostly caused by running, jumping, or squatting. It is common in women mostly.

  • Torn cartilage:

Cartilage tear can take place because of a slip and fall, sports injury, or an accident. Cartilage damage seems to be another painful cause behind Crepitus.

When to See Physiotherapist

Primarily, the joint popping is pretty much harmless, and you need not have to worry about that. But, if the cracking or popping in your joints is followed by swelling and pain, then it is better to visit a physiotherapist first and get the conditions treated through exercises, therapies, and some pain medications. Visit your doctor, if the Crepitus is accompanied by:

  • Any injury
  • Brushing
  • Joint suddenly locking up after popping
  • Pain
  • Limited motion range
  • Swelling

Risks

It is always mandatory to call professionals to treat Crepitus if you don’t want the popping sounds to cause some extra issues. If ignored for a long time, then certain risks will evaluate from crackling joints.

  • Risks associated with ligament movements
  • Manipulation
  • Formation of the nitrogen bubbles
  • Creating rough joint surfaces
  • Causing pain while bending the joints
  • Snapping the tendons
  • Tearing the ligament, resulting in complete bed rest and excruciating pain

How to Prevent

One significant way to avoid creaking of the joints is to get up and start moving as much as you can during the day. According to experts, motion is the main medication. So, the more you move, the more your body will start to lubricate itself. But, if you are sitting or lying around, then the fluids within your joints won’t move. So, the more active you can be, the more your joints will start to lubricate, resulting in lesser cracking or popping sounds.

Make sure to cover up some joint exercises as well. It will keep the joints flexible and will ensure better movements all the time. Try exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes every day for 5 days a week, and you will see a significant difference in your movements.

Lastly, try to practice some healthy body mechanics. Sit upright with your back supported and flaying your feet flat on the ground. Proper postures will prevent joint popping.

Treatments

There are multiple causes of knee joint cracking sound, and some of the solutions will involve home remedies using the RICE method. But, if the pain is unbearable, then visiting a physiotherapist for your right treatment is important. Some of the non-invasive treatments available are listed below:

  • Physical therapy:

Physical therapies are tailor-made treatment plans to your conditions, goals, and activities. There are exercises, and laser therapies included based on the seriousness of the condition.

  • Bracing or splinting:

Sometimes, a splint or a brace can help in aligning the joints to help to heal the injury faster and in a proper manner.

  • Custom orthotics:

Orthotics are mainly special shoe inserts, which are designed to stabilize the knee and foot. It helps in relieving pain and also gives you the chance to remain active for a long time.

  • Pain relief:

Reputed physiotherapists will take pain management quite seriously. If handled in a proper way, pain relief methods will eliminate inflammation and discomfort and will let you get back to your favorite activities easily.

Related Conditions

Apart from preventing your joints from brushing against one another and causing pain, proper physiotherapies will help in preventing the formation of osteoarthritis and other forms of arthritis as well. It will prevent movement restrictions and painful spinal cord injuries. Proper treatments will make your bone, muscles, ligaments, and tendons strong and won’t cause any problems later in life. So, visiting a physiotherapist for immediate help is a necessity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes excessive joint popping?

There are various reasons behind joint popping. It can be caused by ligaments stretching and releasing or by compression of the nitrogen bubbles right in the joints’ spaces.

What vitamins can help in cracking joints?

There are multiple healthy supplements available to focus on this topic. Some of those are MSM, Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Tamarind seed, and more.

What are these cracking joints indicating?

Painful joint cracking or popping is the major symptom of the early stages of bursitis, tendinitis, or arthritis.

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