Why our joints tend to snap, crackle and pop

Why our joints tend to snap, crackle and pop

Have you ever walked up a flight of stairs hearing a snap, crackle or popping sound coming from your joints?  Or maybe you hear a distinct popping in the knee when you stand up.  When you walk is there a clicking noise accompanying it?  Then your lifelong ambition of becoming a cat burglar may be abruptly over.  As annoying and somewhat embarrassing it can be, the good thing to know it can be perfectly natural for joints, particularly in the feet, ankles, back, or knees, to make those popping and cracking sounds from time to time.

There can be a number of reasons why our joints like to make themselves known by making noise even though it is not known exactly what causes these common sounds.  Here are a few ideas of possible reason why:

·      It could be caused by ligaments stretching and releasing or by the compression of nitrogen bubbles in the spaces of the joints.  The nitrogen gas is within the fluid that helps lubricate joints providing nutrition to the cartilage

·      The sounds could occur when soft tissues, such as tendons and ligaments, rub or snap over other tissues and bones.

·      Because of the mobility of our joints, there are many things that will slide over or run past each other causing interaction between them that could result in a popping sound.

·      Joints with arthritis make sounds caused by the loss of smooth cartilage and the roughness of the joint surface.

For those who love to deliberately crack their knuckles, you can keep up your fun.  There is no connection between cracking your joints causing them to swell or develop arthritis.

There has never been found to indicate that the snap, crackle, and pop sound of our joints is harmful or is a reflection of bad health or can lead to arthritis. The sounds do not require any treatment as they are considered normal but the noises may increase as you age.  And don’t believe that taking chondroitin or glucosamine supplements, two of the best well-known supplements many people take for osteoarthritis, will help lubricate or reduce the cracking noises as there is little evidence to prove they work.

If your “musical” body is becoming a little too noisy, there are a couple of things that might help:

·      Stretch your body every day.  This help keep you limber and may help keep the tendons, ligaments and joints performing better. Also do low-impact exercise such as swimming or bicycling.

·      Maintain a healthy body weight.  Data has shown losing weight does improve pain in the joints of the lower extremities plus reduces the risk of arthritis.  The less stress there is on your joints, the longer they can stay healthy.