A look at what makes our joints crack and pop, what it means for our health, and how we can prevent it.
Everyone experiences cracks and pops in their joints and these noises seem to get a little worse the older you get. Sometimes, the sounds can get so loud that they are a little embarrassing or even a little disconcerting or worrisome.
Why Do Joints Crack in the First Place?
In general, joints can make noise for different reasons. If you are hearing your joints crack and pop when you move from out of or into a specific position, it is likely that you are hearing tendons pop because the fluid in your joints changes pressure, which creates bubbles that pop.
On the other hand, if the popping is happening with some kind of repetitive motion (like when you are lifting a small weight at the gym, and your shoulder keeps popping), you probably hear a tendon stretching and releasing. This kind of repetitive noise can also be a tendon slipping over a bone, which is perfectly normal.
Is Joint Cracking a Normal Thing?
For the most part, yes, joint cracking is a relatively normal thing that should not cause you any real concern. According to an orthopedist affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic Dr. Kim L. Stearns, M.D., the noises from your joints may be an annoyance, but should really not cause you any worry.
This information usually brings up the question of whether there is such a thing of joints popping and cracking too much, but that really is a hard thing to measure. Everyone’s body is different; joints even age at different paces according to a person’s health habits and musculoskeletal makeup; joints may even be overall built differently. Therefore, joints can also make different or more noises according to the person.
While you might not want to hear it, age is a factor in noisily, cracking joints. The reason for the change in the frequency of pops and crackles is there are changes in the soft tissues, such as the cartilage and tendons, and sometimes a change in the fluid surrounding the joints due to inflammation relative to illness or similar conditions.
When Should You Be Concerned About Noisy Joints?
The primary thing that should cause concern relative to crackling joints is if you are experiencing other symptoms besides the sounds you keep hearing. For example, you should contact a doctor to get checked out if you are hearing pops that are accompanied by:
• Pain in the joint when the pops occur
• Swelling in or around the joint that is popping
• Uncomfortable sensations that radiate from the popping joint
• Popping that temporarily affects your ability to use the joint
These symptoms in addition to the noise can point to musculoskeletal problems, illnesses, or injuries. For instance, pain and swelling that accompanies popping in the knee could mean you have an underlying knee injury or joint problems developing.
What can I do to help quiet my joints?
Some doctors recommend staying active and getting sufficient exercise because it helps keep the soft tissues in your joints stay lubricated, which may prevent some of the noise.
As far as supplements for creaky, noisy joints, you may try opting for supplements that support joint health and a healthy musculoskeletal system.
To learn more, check out our articles below regarding supplementation for joint health:
- 5 Antioxidant-Rich Foods for Joints
- Collagen Supplementation: Hype or Healthy?
- 4 Vitamins to Help Grease Your Joints
- The Little Known Antioxidant You Need to Know About