Joint Popping – Snap, Crack, and POP

We all hear some form of joint popping or cracking when we move one or some parts of our body! It’s totally normal. The right knee that sounds like velcro when you stand up, the back cracking you get sometimes if you turn quickly, or your hip snaps when you stand up after watching that bingable reality show on Netflix. IT’S OKAY! Most of these sounds are normal and expected. As long as they are not associated with pain, keep on moving! Sure, it’s good to know that these are safe, but what do they mean or why are they happening?


Joint Crepitus? Never “Heard” of it!

Crepitus is the name given to the sound that your body makes when structures rub together. This can sound like clicking, grinding, squeaky, etc. Usually these sounds are associated with NORMAL changes in your body as we age. Read that again, NORMAL. These sounds should be considered not normal when they are accompanied by pain or moments of feeling unsteady in the joint/body part in question. These sounds and accompanying symptoms have different causes and treatments for each. So be aware that that arthritis cream that your friend gave you may not help a meniscus injury. These cricks and cracks can happen at any joint in the body, even the jaw! The other aspect to be conscious of is if these noises are around a joint that gets stuck or feels “tight.” If this scenario is happening to you, reach out to your Physical Therapist, this may need to be addressed as well.

Back Cracking – “Can you crack my back?” 

This is a pretty common question in the world of rehabilitation. The back cracking techniques used are sometimes called manipulations, mobilization, and/or adjustments. These techniques all have clinical practice guidelines for their usage; meaning boxes that need checked before a clinician completes them on you. The sound produced is actually called a cavitation! The hard facts about these maneuvers is they do NOT fix anything – they do not put something back in place, nor do they realign your joint being worked on. What research has proven is that these provide some short term pain relief in the area around where the pop is felt and relaxation. This response is what perpetuates a “masking the issue” cycle versus a “treating or fixing” the problem cycle. Now, that does not mean these techniques should not be used. Science actually demonstrates that used along WITH specific exercises patients have the best results in becoming pain free!


Is Joint Popping In Your Knuckles Bad?

We all were told this growing up… Someone told you that cracking your joint would make them “puffy” and lead to early arthritis. Well, so far we haven’t found that to be the case. What we do know about joint sounds or, “cavitations,” is that these are produced by changes in joint pressure causing a release of gas bubbles. The process is actually way more complicated, but at the end of the day just know that it is not causing arthritis or damage to your body.  


What Questions Do You Have About Joint Popping or Back Cracking?

Your body is allowed to make noises; it’s made to move and sometimes pressure is released when we move a certain way! But remember, if at any time these snaps, crackles, or pops hurt, they feel unstable, or you notice a loss of motion after one you should give us a shout! Give us a call at 614.467.0285 or visit our website to inquire about becoming a patient. Entering the ring next is the topic of “Sore muscle knots!” Do you have some? Let’s chat!

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