You turn your head to the right and your neck goes…..crrrraaaaccckk
You go for a 5k run and your knees go………pop, pop, pop, pop
You rotate your shoulders to warm up for exercise……….crackle, crackle, crackle
A lot of people have noisy joints. Some of you can’t stand the sound and are willing to do anything you can to make it go away. Some think the sound comes from the joints rubbing and grinding against each other. Others just want to know what the noise is, and is it going to cause long term problems like arthritis.
What are these noises and should you be concerned about them?
Just a bunch of gas bags
The noise that’s often associated with a popping or cracking is known in academic and medical circles as a joint cavitation. A cavitation happens when the ligaments surrounding a joint stretch and gas bubbles within the ligament are released.
In a way, it’s similar the sound you hear when you open a can of soda. The sound is harmless, and just a sign that carbon dioxide is getting released as the ligaments expand and pressure is released.
It’s the same sound associated with cracking your knuckles and spinal manipulation. For all intents and purposes, the sounds you hear from your joint are harmless and don’t really mean anything. It doens’t mean an adjustment took place. It doesn’t mean that damage was done. It just means that your joints just released gas.
When it Hurts
There are times when the popping or crunching sound with joint movement can be painful. For these situations, the sound is coming from tendons rubbing against harder structures and create a snapping sound. This is most commonly found in the hip, and is usually diagnosed as a hip pointer.
This can also occur in the shoulder and can lead to degenerative tearing of the rotator cuff muscles.
If popping or crackling is associated with pain, these are the moments that you would want to get it checked out by a professional to determine the need for care options.
What If I just Want the Noise to Go Away?
So let’s say that you have noisy joints and you hate the sound, is there anything you can do about it?
As far as I know, the answer is leaning towards no.
There are times where changing joint movement patterns, joint supplements, or spinal correction can make the noise go away, but there are lots of times where that doesn’t make any difference at all.
While these things may be worth a try, just know that getting these interventions for the sole reason of making the noise go away is likely an attempt at futility.
The most effective strategy is to change your relationship with the sounds coming from your joints, and train your brain to ignore them. Somewhere down the line, you may notice those creaky joints start to go away or become harmless background noise.